Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ravages of Time--Women and Veterans

Recently visited the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY. Interesting subject, interesting park, with knowledgeable Park Service employees, but of course I have to find fault. Two problems:
  • the visitor center had material on the place of women in American culture, including a 3-dimensional graph (the best description I can think of) comparing the numbers (percentages?) of men and women in various occupations over the years. The problem I have is the last figures shown were for 1990, almost 16 years ago. Women have gained in that time, in the professions and in ranking. (Since politics is timely, look at this boasting by Emily's List, which hasn't been updated to reflect the two additional women Senators just elected.
  • the web site (see above). It's "under construction", with the last performance plan posted being for 2003.
My guess is that the park and the web site suffer from faults common to bureaucracy: something happens (in this case probably the 150th anniversary of the 1848 meeting in Seneca Falls) that generates activity (the Women's Rights National Historical Park). And the Internet comes along and people want to have web sites. But the golden hour passes, the party in power changes, projects get reprioritized, and interest fades. Result: a park that will gradually lose interest year by year.

I repeat, it's not a unique problem. It's a version of NIH (not invented here)--as time passes the first blush of enthusiasm pales and the founders move on to other things, the people who inherit don't devote the same time and energy to maintaining the project.

The same applies to Veterans Day. The 11 minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month can never mean the same to us as to those who fought in the trenches in WWI.

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