The first video game (PONG) and the first handheld calculator (HP-35) are introduced. Five White House operatives are caught burglarizing the Watergate Hotel. The Volkswagen Beetle sets the record for the most cars sold worldwide. And Voice for the Defense is born as an eight-page hole-punched pamphlet issued four times per year. Over time, we have evolved into a ten times per year publication averaging between 40 and 52 pages per issue.
Thirty-nine years later, we take the logical next step. On February 11, 2011, Voice for the Defense Online was launched. See http://voiceforthedefenseonline.com/. With it, we also launched the Voice for the Defense Blog and the Voice for the Defense Online Facebook page. I affectionately call it “Voice Online,” or “VOL” for short.
The concept for Voice Online began at the 2009 Texas Criminal Trial College. I circulated a rough draft in September 2009, and the Board approved funding. Melissa Schank took the lead on getting a web designer lined up and found Stacy Clifford and Chili Pepper Web (http://www.chilipepperweb.net/). Melissa, Stacy, and Craig Hattersley have all gone way above and beyond in getting VOL off the ground. The support of the Board has been unflagging.
This is a major milestone in our evolution. In fact, fairly shortly we will phase out our print version, which, by the way, is really breathtakingly expensive to produce. This is not just a replacement for our print magazine, however. VOL is quite a bit more. I want to introduce you all to some of the features.
First of all, the VOL Archives contain almost every Voice for the Defense TCDLA has ever published—all the way back to Winter 1972 (I think we may be missing one issue). The archives section is keyword searchable. If you have ever written an article, run your name. It will probably come up. If the keywords you enter do not pull up what you think they should, just know that keywording is a work in progress and will be for a while. The tables of contents will be, for a while, continuously updated to include more information for searches. To help, there is a downloadable index available on the Archives page.
Each of the back issues has been scanned in as a downloadable PDF file. Click on the cover once and the table of contents will expand to show the features. Click on the cover a second time and the columns become visible as well as a blue button at the bottom of the page you click to download the entire issue. Good quality scanning is also a work in progress. We will be working on improving the quality of the archives for some time.
Voice for the Defense Blog
Click on the “BLOG” button and you will be taken to the blog page. Blog feeds appear on both this page and the front page. This is mainly for search engines and to showcase posts from the blog. You must click “Voice for the Defense Blog Home” at the top of the “BLOG” page to get to the front page of the stand-alone blog. Also, if you click on any of the feeds, you will be taken to that post on the blog, after which you can click either “Voice for the Defense Blog” at the top of the page or the little “Home” button with the green house to take you to the front page.
It is very easy to register with the blog, after which you can leave comments. Please do so. Also, if anyone wants to become an author, just let me know. Authors can post. Everyone else can comment. I would like to have a bunch of authors who would like to post as often as they can. I want both substantive posts and commentary. You can see the categories we have so far. There will be more. New categories will emerge as the content emerges. If someone wants to write on DWI, the Legislature, practice in a small town, whatever—just let me know. We would love to have you.
I have created a how-to PDF slide show that guides you though registering with the blog, viewing the blog, and leaving comments. You can access it by going to the BLOG page.
As it stands right now, Voice Online is technically not an online magazine. Over the coming weeks, we will become one. When you look at the opening page, across the top of the page you will see buttons for “FEATURES,” “SDR,” etc. At that point, we will be a true online magazine. Searchability will improve dramatically as individual articles become archived. We will still have archives back to 1972, but those will always be dependent on keywords for searchability, as they are scanned-in PDFs. From 2011 on, as actual text gets archived, everything will be searchable by words in the entries themselves. You will immediately see the improvement in searches.
This site is not for our members only. Anyone can research and download the archives. Anyone can leave comments on our blog. The site has been up for five weeks as of this writing, and we have had 75,000 hits. With content constantly changing, I can see a time in the not-too-distant future when we will be getting millions of hits in the space of a year. If some of our members become active bloggers and start to gain a following, we could see tens of millions. This would be a huge benefit to TCDLA as a whole.
Finally, I want to stress that this is still a project in the works. We need your input and suggestions. Every one of us will have a part in making this experiment work.