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Hallo again to all.

In 1789, the Reverend Gilbert White of Selborne, in England, published a collection of letters that were, essentially, his journal of the natural world of his parish.The Natural History of Selborne, cover of an edition He called the collection, rather straightforwardly, The Natural History of Selborne in the County of Southampton. His observations include the nature and habits of, amongst other things, hedgehogs, thunderstorms, echoes, house martins, peacocks, and ponds. He occasionally and charmingly notes things outside his immediate parish, which one can see in entries in his self-compiled index: 'Music, It's powerful effect on some men's minds'.

Gilbert White and his observations, over time, of his world occurred to us as we mused on anniversaries and the passage of time. Two prominent ten-year anniversaries that occur this time of year are the death of the Princess of Wales and the election, as Prime Minister, of Tony Blair. In a few short weeks it will also be ten years since we snatched the nearly fallen baton of Anglicans Online from Tod Maffin, its founder, who in August 1997 was wearying of the work he had begun in December 1994.

Ten years seems a long time to oversee a website. But perhaps measuring Internet time is something like measuring dog years, where one internet year = five 'real' years. Whatever the measurement, the net and the world itself are sharply different than they were in summer 1997. We shan't bore you by sententiously counting the ways. But we do think that it's time for us, as a sort of 'Natural History of Anglicans Online', to take stock of the intangible readers of — and visitors to — this international website, with no borders, but surely with a goodly heritage, which it has been our privilege to manage for so long.

Through those years, we've come to know a number of you through your emails or letters to us. We have some general sense of who 'you' are, where 'you' are from, and a mini-survey five years ago helped with some of that. But with the sharp increase in church-related websites, the exponential growth and maturing of the blogosphere, and the burgeoning of Anglican news available online, it makes sense to have you help us see where AO fits in this universe.AO survey July 2007

We can only determine what Anglicans Online 'means' with your help, but we promise not to ask much of you. There are, basically, two questions, and you can scribble as little or as much as you like in answer to them. By telling us what you value about AO and giving us an idea of what we can change — or add — to make this a more valuable resource for you, you will assist us immensely. Please do take a minute or two out of your busy lives to help us. We should be most grateful.

We'll report back in a fortnight or so with general observations about the state of the parish.

See you next week.

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Last updated: 1 July 2007


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