oldWeather Classic is getting close to complete. We've heard the requests to put more ships on it, but it's not really possible - it's obsolete code - we don't have anybody capable of updating it. I'd really like to get to 100% finished. Let's get it done and move on.
So the question is what to move on to. oW has changed a lot over the last couple of years - it's now much less a large public project with thousands of contributors and more the work of a group of experts. We are still generating lots of good data, but we are doing it quite differently.
The plan for the new oldWeather was to go back to our original way of operating, to build a system for the complicated, data-rich logbooks we are working on now, that is sufficiently fast and easy to use that lots of casual volunteers will contribute - that we can scale-up to get millions of logbooks done. I'm sorry to say that we have not managed to build such a thing - the new user interface is faster and better (mostly) than classic, but nothing like easy enough to tempt casual users, and it's turned out to be very difficult to make work technically - it's complicated, and that means bugs. Our new site does not work well enough to do what we need - to become widely popular despite the difficult logbooks.
oldWeather-whaling works for the free-format whaling logs, and we'll keep whaling going for the low-observation density logs - but we need another approach for the government ship logs with tables of observations - those are where the vast bulk of the records we need are.
We'd like to keep you - the expert users - working on the highest-value difficult logs. When classic completes we won't have a web interface for you, but do we really need one? The web interface was for the thousands of casual users - I suspect that what experts need is actually the forum. If instead we were to provide links to the logbook images at NARA, and agree a spreadsheet format for data entry, and coordinate who was working on what through the forum, we might actually be better off.
Kevin and I and the mods have talked about this, and we want to try it. If you are thinking, 'how will we enter data', the answer is 'however you like', we've seen plenty of good ideas for alternative transcription methods over the years, this is our chance to try some of them. We plan to come up with a simple template for putting the data in (columns for pressure, temperature, date, events etc.), but you will be free to choose how to do the transcription. For those who want to be provided with a tool, Bob has agreed to share one he has made, and I'm hoping others of you will also make suggestions, so we can all use one of those, or just make up out own.
At the moment this is just an idea - we don't know exactly how it will work, and we are relying (as always) on the collective skill and experience of the forum to make it work at all. Please add your comments and suggestions to this thread.
Please also push on with classic - let's get it to 100%. I was checking the progress statistics just before writing this, and one line stood out:
"Total weather observations: 4,008,038"