The other day I was working in my office at the local Tim Horton’s, and a friend walked in. We often see each other there and take a few minutes to chat. He told me that he’s been working with colleagues on defining their company’s mission statement. I’ve done that work in the past, and I find it to be a project that can often be pretty challenging, but is still very much worth doing. Crafting a succinct but accurate mission statement can be tough work, especially if your organization does a lot of different things.
As we talked, I wondered about the mission statement for ShipIndex.org. I feel pretty good that it came to me fairly quickly. I believe that ShipIndex’s mission is to “simplify maritime history research.” That’s it, and I think it’s pretty accurate. My goal isn’t to ‘tell people which books, journals, websites, databases, etc., mention the ships they want to know more about,’ even if that’s what ShipIndex.org currently does. If I can summon the financial, managerial, and intestinal fortitude, my goal is to make maritime history more accessible, more visible, and better understood, through a whole bunch of different paths, tools, and solutions.
I feel strongly that maritime history is a critical aspect of personal, local, regional, national, and world history, and I want more people to recognize it as such. I hope that as people find more effective ways of doing maritime history research, they’ll incorporate it into more of the stories they tell, and society as a whole will provide more emphasis on how maritime history, shipping, and the marine environment in general, impact our lives.
So, that’s the mission statement – “simplify maritime history research”. I believe that ShipIndex.org’s current work does that, and additional ideas that I have will also do that, but there’s so much more that could be done. Thoughts? What other things do you think could be done to simplify maritime history research?