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ASSAP History: 'ASSAP on the web'
by Val Hope

History Index

The ASSAP website started in 1996 as space donated by BUFORA, and the material was put together by Phil and Chris Walton. It went through several versions, with the addition of more illustrations and topics, and was then taken over by Mike White. It is constantly being improved and underwent a major redesign in 2006 by Maurice Townsend. If you’ve made it as far as this history, you’ll have found and explored the website for yourself. We’ve got a growing resource of back issues of Anomaly and ASSAP News in the members area, while non-members can read extracts from them, get information on groups and other matters, and dip into a glossary of anomalous terms. Take a look around and tell us if we’re missing anything.

We try to be fair to all members, which means not putting all our efforts into the website and neglecting our paper publications. However, IT access has progressed since the early days of the website and most members can now visit the website from home, the office, an internet café or a public library. Technology helps us to put more information out there more quickly, for members and the general public. It helps us communicate our aims, give rapid updates on issues, and hold Executive meetings without having to travel the length and breadth of the country. Or from Thailand, the home of one of our officers.

You will have seen that we’ve always had more ideas than volunteers, so some plans naturally don’t get very far. One was Project Traffic Light, the brainchild of former Special Projects Officer Clive Seymour. This was intended to be a database accessible through the website, bringing together information on cases throughout the country. Each would be classified according to how active they were. Red was for anecdotal stories and green for live cases, with amber somewhere in between. We managed to put a loose regional network together for gathering case information, but came a collective cropper on the production of a working database. The lack of broadband connections in the early days of the website meant that it would be expensive for contributors to type directly into the database, but we couldn’t find a member with enough free time to work on solutions. While recognized as a worthwhile project that could help feed information not only to investigators but also to people working on Project Albion, and also dovetailing with PASS, it is firmly on the backburner at the moment.

We first launched a forum for the exchange of ideas in 2000, but for some reason it didn’t take off. Maybe that was another idea before its time. In 2005 we tried again. For a while we attracted dozens of contributors to a lively exchange of opinions on all sorts of subjects. Anyone was able to start a new thread or contribute to an existing discussion. Some were a bit esoteric, some highly technical. Many contributors, whether ASSAP members or not, took a lot of effort to set out their theories and present evidence. Some of the exchanges got a little heated, so we set up areas for people to have less scientifically rigorous chats and play with ideas. We had a number of members monitoring postings on a fairly regular basis, but usage gradually shrank and we closed the forum down again in 2006.
© Valerie Hope 2007