Fifth Anniversary of Ensign

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, Victoria Day, May 20, 2002

North Central Internet News exists and continues to exist because you come and visit. Since we began this web publication five years ago today we have uploaded 25,081 files for a total of 539.9 megabytes of material. So essentially the web site has grown at about 100 MB a year.

The use of high speed connections has seen the development of more QuickTime VR projects and more Flash presentations which both are serious memory hogs and sometimes I wonder if these large projects actually add to the quality of the web site, as we still have so many visitors who are on dial-up connections and will remain so in the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, so much depends on your reaction and comments. Please take time now and then to
tell us what you think.

Since early winter you have seen the increase in contributions on the national political scene from White Rock B.C. to Halifax, people have been submitting their opinions and I am proud to have been able to include these submissions. This may seem to indicate a shift in the emphasis of the web site, but in reality is just a further enhancement. The amount of local content has remained almost constant and these new contributions have just been in addition to what was always here before.

It is important to let you in on what happens here at Ensign every single day. When I receive an opinion-editorial from someone I do not know, I set about checking into their prior publications and in most cases these will be listed in references with the article. By doing this I can authenticate the submission and maintain a level of confidence in the material that gives you the visitor, some confidence that these voices are worth consideration. The quality of the submissions and the impressive backgrounds of these contributors is outstanding and I am definitely pleased and proud of their addition to the project.

Mario deSantis established the basic pattern of opinion material on Ensign when he and I worked out a standard for material back in 1998. Both Mario and I wanted students to have a model to follow as more and more high school and collage papers will be made in the web format, we thought it would be appropriate to set a kind of standard for web based material. Essentially, we feel and demonstrate this with each piece posted, that the reader be given the opportunity to verify and decide if the ideas expressed have merit or are just rhetoric. This means that where ever possible, we try to back up each important statement with a reference. This makes the material more reliable but it also means that you have to read just a bit more carefully. Mario is in the habit of taking a phrase from an authority and restating it assuming you have checked the source and if you sometimes find yourself lost in the thoughts expressed you have missed a reference.

We have, in most cases used this same standard for the submissions from other contributors and as a result, even when I disagree with a point made, I can confidently post the story, knowing that my opinion is hardly important because we are able to provide you with a wide and varied perspective.

I am convinced that the popularity of
Ensign and of Saskatchewan News rests in the lack of confidence most people now have in the Nation's daily and weekly news papers as they are compromised by ownership and essentially bribed by advertising.

Just so you understand some of the structural components to both Ensign and Saskatchewan News, here are some points that help to explain the things you see:

    • Pictures - reading text on a computer is not an easy task as you find with this page which is really just a wall of text. From the beginning, we have tried to have most stories illustrated and at least have a picture that expresses the essence of the story at the top of the page.

    • Sidebar - Most text articles are accompanied with reading points, word or phrases that pick out something important out of the paragraph to assist you in reading the story, or allow you to skim it without reading it all.

    • Paragraphs - Web based text can not have the same kind of paragraphs that you find in print paper based material and have to be shorted so that a single clear idea is presented in each paragraph. It makes for less fluid prose but improves readability.

    • References - We do not include trivial or deliberately misleading hyperlinks. We believe that you are the ultimate authority on what decisions you make about things and want you to have at your disposal, evidence that will help you confirm, or refute a concept. Where ever possible check out these links, because in some material, such as those stories written by Mario deSantis, the whole story is not in the text on the page but is buried in the links.

Thank you for visiting Ensign, and I really appreciate
hearing from you about anything you see or would like to see on this web site. The potential of the Internet to fill our infinite need to know, depends on its ability to produce material that the user needs.


Timothy W. Shire