Rendez-vous with . . . Philippe Boucher about the Tobacco Control Directory.Author: Philippe Boucher
Rendez-vous 142 Friday, November 8 2002
First of all I want to apologize to the readers of Rendez-vous for the long period of silence between the rendez-vous on June 21, with Barbara Bruce and the one on November 7 with Eric Helmuth.
I took a few months off and focused on the Tobacco Control Directory.
I thought using the rendez-vous format for a self-interview about it would be the most convenient way to share with you this project. So here it is.
1. What is the Tobacco Control Directory?
Philippe Boucher: In November 2001 I wrote to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation my conclusions and recommendations concerning the one year contract I had been awarded to write cyber-interviews and study tobacco control websites.
I suggested it would be useful for the tobacco control community to have an on line directory where people and organizations active in the field would be listed so that one could easily figure out who is who and how to get in touch.
They liked the idea and offered their support to create such a directory. I started working on it in February 2002.
All the technical side has been taken care of by Bob Waite (who is my neighbor on Bainbridge Island) and Dayna Bateman (a web designer based in Chicago) .
I never thought there were so many details to be sorted out for the construction a directory. Thank you Bob and Dayna for your expertise and hard work and your patience with me!
2. What about already existing directories and search engines?
Philippe Boucher: the only wide ranging existing directory that I know of is on UICC's Globalink but it is only accessible to members and many people are not listed.
I know Ruben Israel and his team are working hard to improve the functionalities but I was dreaming about something open to the public, including institutions and more US centered.
There is no question in my mind that Globalink's directory remains indispensable, especially since it is fully international while -due to RWJF's mandate- the tobacco control directory is US focused (at least for the moment and as far as individuals are concerned).
As for search engines, they do provide very accurate information but you still have to sort through the answers, go to the sites, look for more details, etc.
I thought it would be useful to have something more direct, more specialized and selective to serve the tobacco control community.
3. Where are you now?
Philippe Boucher: We are ready to enter the wild worldwide web and the more we get ready the more anxious I am!
You would think this would be no big deal since I have been writing and publishing on line for several years now but I am much more nervous about this: much more information to check and the big question. Are you going to like it?
Are you going to find it useful? Are you going to join in and help make it work?
The phone book is useful. The paper based Attendee Directory of the National Conference or the world conference or INWAT's I find useful but what about this on line directory?
The answer depends on the tobacco control community itself.
If lots of people register and accept to share info about what they are doing there will be plenty to learn from.
If not, there will be less. I know it can take some time for people (and groups) to get used to a new tool and embrace it as their own.
4. How do you start? From scratch with nobody on the list?
Philippe Boucher: As far as organizations are concerned I have been collecting and putting together information about 310+ groups that have a website.
Since this is an on line directory I have focused exclusively on groups with a web presence.
I know there are more out there but hopefully this first selection is only a way to start the snow ball. It will be up to the missing parts to join the list even if I'll continue site seeing to add new references.
As far as the individuals are concerned I looked at the information I could find, mostly from the attendee directory of past conferences and organizations that publish one.
I have listed almost 3000 individuals.
I know this information becomes quickly obsolete (a recent study estimated that 31 percent of email addresses are changed each year) and I am sure I made mistakes in the transcripts so I am asking for your patience and understanding.
Of course if you don't want to be listed we'll take you out right away.
And if you want to get listed, not only are you most welcome to join, you are most welcome to tell your friends and encourage them to register.
5. What type of information does the directory provide?
Philippe Boucher: My first goal is for the Tobacco Control Directory to provide the most basic information about the most of people and groups.
Their name, electronic address, a simple description of what they are doing and whatever detailed information they want to share.
6. What's next?
Philippe Boucher: Come and visit www.tcdirectory.org
Check if you are listed.
Add whatever info you want to share and if you are not already listed please join right away: it should not take more than 2 minutes.
Spread the word so that your friends and colleagues get listed as well.
Give us feedback about what works and more important what doesn't so we can fix it!
Thank you in advance for your contribution.
Once the directory is up and running I hope I'll find more time to return to more frequent and regular rendez-vous with the peope who are the soul and the salt of the tobacco control movement.