The Future of PaddlingABC

February 23, 2014
Eric Howey

This is a probably a bit long-winded and perhaps a tad narcissistic but there is a lot to tell and a lot to celebrate. The two sentence summary is as follows; PaddlingABC is thriving (check out some of those numbers below) and will be now be owned and managed by both the Alberta Whitewater Association and Paddle Alberta! There will also be some significant improvements to the website over the next few months so don’t be alarmed if things look a bit different.

PaddlingABC exists to promote the enjoyment, exploration and protection of western Canadian waterways through accessible information. In other words PaddlingABC is about disconnecting people from their computers and connecting people with nature. I don’t care if you are dropping 30ft waterfalls or gently paddling across a lake, they are both badass in my books and beyond that they both contribute to individual and communal wellbeing. PaddlingABC is in an amazing place today and successful in its mission to get people adventuring outside. Here are some interesting numbers from the past few years to reflect on:

5 or so years ago that it started as a rough website and concept
6075 visits in 2010 (first year I kept stats)
28,281 visits to the site in 2013
1471 unique visitors in 2010 (first year I kept stats)
11,378 unique visitors in 2013
60.8% of the visits were returning visitors in 2013
103 entries in the RiverWiki and mapped on Google Earth
North Saskatchewan from Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House is the most popular entry in the RiverWiki with 1046 unique views this year. Lower Kananaskis comes in at number two with 809 unique views this year.

PaddlingABC is clearly thriving and is doing so because of YOU. That’s right, you, whether it is commenting on a blog post, adding a new river entry, editing an old one, sharing a thought on Facebook or simply checking river levels. PaddlingABC would be nothing without all of your contributions. PaddlingABC is a resource that belongs to everyone and as such is also the responsibility of everyone. My role is to ensure that the website and the information in it is safeguarded and managed properly for the future. This is a duty that I have been thinking a lot about over the past couple of years, particularly as the site has gained in popularity and my motivation is being gradually pulled towards new pursuits. How can I make sure PaddlingABC continues to thrive and grow for years to come? For years after I lose interest?

Answering this question is difficult for me; I have planned my own retirement so to speak. In doing so my priorities have been to (a) ensure the website does not languish is cyber limbo with rare updates, (b) ensure the website remains free and noncommercial, (c) ensure the information that people have worked hard to contribute is safeguarded. I am very happy to report that the best possible answer to this predicament has presented itself, clear line river right if you will. I am pleased to announce that in 2014 PaddlingABC will become a joint venture between the Alberta Whitewater Association and Paddle Alberta! These are both fantastic organizations and they represent all aspects of the paddle sports community. I believe this is the best possible outcome for the future of PaddlingABC.

A few side points about the change of ownership and management. I will remain heavily involved in the website through 2014 and will gradually reduce my involvement through 2015. I am not making any money on the ‘sale’ of the website, I don’t see myself as an owner, only a caretaker if you will. There may start to be some subtle advertising on the website with any revenue split equally between these non-profits.

The website itself will be undergoing some structural and visual improvements over the next few months in order to be ready for the 2014 paddling season. It will have a new responsive design which means it will run smoothly across a variety of screen sizes and media devices. No more “m.” for the mobile site so you might need to update a couple of bookmarks on your mobile devices. I have also tried to simplify it up and reduce some clutter in the layout. The blog is being completely reworked so that it doesn’t crash the site like it did last year (doh!). New river levels will be added including live feeds from Environment Canada. Hopefully going back to some color coded levels as well, we will see what time permits. Last but not least I am planning to review as many entries in the RiverWiki as I can to make sure they are accurate and error free going into this paddling season.

In closing I just want to say thank-you to everyone that has encouraged me, given me feedback, offered help, said thanks, and actually read all of this. It has been very rewarding for me to build this site and see it grow to where it is today. PaddlingABC is something we should all be proud of!

Keep adding and updating rivers in the RiverWiki! Go outside!



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