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Refreshing an internet directory

I’m beginning the last segment of the website reconstruction – cleaning up the Natural Childbirth Directory.  This is a big task.  The directory has over 200 pages of information just about services available in the United States.  Every page has to be reformatted to the new look.  Every link has to be checked to ensure it still works.  And that is what I find interesting today.

Having a list of useful links on a website is like shooting an arrow at a moving target. The internet is a dynamic information source, changing daily.  A link that was helpful last week may be “broken” this week.  A website with some interesting articles a year ago may be gone today.

When I began the directory, I wanted to be able to send readers to great sources of information.  I wanted the unique articles that start discussions. I sought out web pages that complimented the information on Birthing Naturally, not pages that gave readers the exact same information. I wanted to be a link to resources families might not find otherwise – the hidden gems.

But the internet has changed. I think I first built the directory in 2005, and at that time it felt like a big deal to me to not send families to commercial sites they would find listed in any internet search (remember when search was basically looking through an edited list of websites?). I reasoned that if it took me a long time to find these resources, as plugged into the natural birth community as I was, it would be nearly impossible for families looking for information to find them.

I still think there may be hidden gems out there in the folds of the web, but I don’t spend time each week finding them.  Many of the articles I considered great reads don’t  exist anymore. But what is more interesting to me is that I don’t need to send families to an unknown webpage in the middle of a family’s personal website to provide research.  There are great websites that do a fabulous job of educating women, integrating research and statistics with advice and basic information.  Childbirth Connection, La Leche League, even the World Health Organization has pdfs that can be downloaded free to help women plan for birth – and usually in multiple languages.

So, just as in the other sections of the website, I find the needs of readers have changed and the directory must change to provide the best opportunities for the readers.

 

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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