Steps Forward and No Steps Back
By Steve Paul Johnson
January 3, 2001
2000 was a good year.
In a way, the new millennium was a new start for Interment.net.
We've been around since March of 1997, but in those days we were
just a baby. It seems that 2000 marked a time when we got bigger,
and people started to take notice. It's like we stepped out of the
house and ventured outdoors.
2000 was a defining year for us. Defined our role in the community,
defined how people perceive us, and defined our expectations.
Coming out of the starting blocks, we migrated the site to a dedicated
server to give us more bandwidth, and that alone was quite a learning
experience. In July of 2000, we upgraded to yet an even more powerful
Probably the most significant moment is bringing our editor, Maggie
Rail, on board. Maggie's diligence and dedication has made this
site grow faster than it has ever had, and she has also been a big
advocate and spokesperson for us. At the beginning of 2000, she
began helping me format raw transcriptions into a publishable form,
and by the end of the year, she has taken on the day-to-day duties
of publishing transcriptions.
The site has received quite a bit of publicity in 2000. Several
of the articles I wrote for our journal have been republished in
a variety of locations, including Ancestry.com, the Journal of the
Ontario Genealogical Society, and a variety of smaller websites.
We've received newspaper publicity in California, Texas, and Washington,
and through the Associated Press. We've been reviewed in magazines
including Smart Computing Magazine, Family Chronicle, and FamilyTreeMagazine.
In 2000 we established partnerships with other websites. The first
one, with Software Wonders of NJ, the creators of CemeteryJunction.com,
RecordsRoom.com, GenealogyToday.com, and others, was to create an
alliance that would help us develop new features and cross promote
each other. We also struck a similar deal with SavingGraves.com.
And finally our partnership with DistantCousin.com has further solidified.
These partnerships have helped us reach out to more people as well
as refer new material to us.
In the past year we've helped people find the resting places of
their friends and family. We've received lot's of e-mail from people
expressing joy that they were able to find a long lost aunt, or
great-grandfather, and even a brother separated at birth. I personally
have received such an e-mail about once or twice a month, and Maggie
just the same. For every such e-mail we receive there are probably
several more people who found success but did not write to us. Even
the people who have had their cemetery transcriptions published
on our site, have told us that they had received similar e-mails.
It's hard to put a number on it, but it'd be safe to say that we've
helped resolve a few hundred mysteries out there.
Interment.net has also emerged useful as more than a genealogical
reference. Members of the funeral industry have contacted us about
"The Cemetery Column", our journal of Interment.net. The funeral
industry have found us a worthwhile venue for reaching out to people
regarding pre-planning needs. Interestingly, people who are searching
for a missing person, or trying to track down an old high-school
buddy, are also using our site to see if any familiar names "pop-up".
I have also been contacted by a number of librarians around the
country trying to find out specific information about a cemetery.
Groups trying to protect cemeteries have found us to be a good venue
for bringing attention to their causes. One such group in Portland,
Maine published their cause in our journal, and received several
letters of support which proved key towards banning dogs from a
The amount of content on Interment.net has increased significantly.
At the start of 2000, we had published transcriptions from about
1,000 cemeteries. At the end of 2000, we have over 3,400 cemeteries.
At the start of 2000, we went from about 50,000 total records to
over 1.9 million by the end. We also started some projects including
our National Cemeteries, Woodmen of the World burials, and the California
In 2000 we launched our Mobile Edition. This allows people to access
some of our content on their handheld computers. While it mostly
is a offline vehicle for reading the articles in our journal, it
also provides some site news, and a list of the newest cemeteries
that we add. We get about 20 to 30 syncs to the mobile edition each
day. Considering the average handheld user syncs their device about
once per week, that probably translates anywhere from 150 to 200
So what do we have in store for 2001? Publishing more cemetery
transcriptions is the first order of business. We want to establish
ourselves as the most popular destination for cemetery transcriptions.
If you have compiled a list of burials at a cemetery, we want you
to think of us. Our mission is to publish it on our site and give
it as much attention as we can give it. I'd like to set a 2001 goal
of publishing a transcription, complete or partial, for 3,000 cemeteries,
bringing our total up to 6,500.
Expect a significant development of our journal, "The Cemetery
Column". I would like it to grow into a vehicle for everyone involved
with cemeteries, be it recordists, preservationists, or funeral
professionals. To do this, we'll be looking for columnists in various
cemetery preservation, funeral industry. We'll be inviting guest
writers, asking people to do product reviews. We'll also be moving
the old "Featured Photograph" to the journal and rechristening it
as a photo gallery for the more interesting cemetery photographs.
Also expect to see more involvement from the funeral industry. Genealogists
should benefit by reading what the professionals in the cemetery
and funeral business have to say about the practice of burials,
record keeping, maintaining grave sites, et al.
I think the handheld computer, such as the Palm, the Visor, the
iPaq, etc., are going to find their way into everyone's pocket.
In the 3 short months since its inception, our mobile edition has
attracted between 150 to 200 subscribers. Now that Santa has blessed
many of you with these toys, I'm expecting a sharper increase in
subscribers. Expect us to do more promotion of our mobile edition.
I really have high hopes for handheld devices. I have one and love
it. Oh, and it looks like we need a cute little name for our mobile
edition. "Mobile Edition" seems too dry. I can never think up good
names. Send me your ideas.
I also don't want to count out the eBook. Microsoft has been pushing
its eBook technology heavily in an attempt to wrestle the electronic
document industry away from Adobe. And I think they'll do it. Adobe's
Acrobat standard has a strong presence in the business market, but
almost no presence in the consumer end. Microsoft is focusing its
eBook technology towards the consumer, and I think they will prevail.
If it really takes off, I'd like get involved in it. Perhaps by
the end of 2001 we may start publishing cemetery transcriptions
in eBook format, allowing people to download them into their handheld
devices and use them wherever they go.
I have a good feeling 2001 will be as productive as 2000. Key to
this productivity is the fact that we are independent, and free
to work without chains. We do not operate under the auspices of
a larger bureacracy. We're not funded by investors or venture capitalists.
We don't answer to an advisory board, nor do we elect officers.
We just publish content, and take pride in it. Yes we want to be
successful, and yes we want to be recognized and appreciated, but
who doesn't? We don't want to create a large bulky organization
with coordinators at every level. We don't want to become babysitters.
And we're not doing this to become rich or famous either. Publishing
cemetery transcriptions doesn't make anybody rich or famous. You
have to have fun doing this in order to do it.
Well, we hope we've created something useful and cool that everyone
will appreciate. We hope you feel confident in recommending us to
your friends. 2000 was a successful year, and we thank you for it.
The future seems wide open right now, and we hope to have another
fruitful year. We hope it will be just as fruitful for you too.
- Steve Paul Johnson