Visitors looking for information about Oswego online: all about sunsets and fishing, nothing about snow
By Matthew Liptak
Full disclosure: I don’t live in Oswego. The editors at College Life newspaper (which you’re now readin) decided to assign me the unique task of looking into how this Lake Ontario community appears to others who don’t live here and are reaching out to it via the World Wide Web.
One of the main findings: The Port City has none of the white stuff online that embraces it during the winter months in the real world.
I looked up the term “Oswego, NY” on Google, Bing and Yahoo. The top five websites returned on all of those search engines turned out to be the same:
1. The city of Oswego website—oswegony.org
2. Oswego NY’s entry in Wikipedia
3. SUNY Oswego’s website, Oswego.edu
4. Oswego NY on Mapquest
5. Facebook’s “Things to do” page for Oswego
That is the order for the Google results I got when I submitted “Oswego NY.” It was just a few of the first entries for results that Google said totaled 1,740,000 links. That came back to me in just .8 seconds.
These sites do a good job of painting a positive picture of Oswego. The city’s page even has a warm and fuzzy video featuring some Oswego neighbors, mostly couples and families, explaining what they like about living there. The video was filmed in the summer where the neighbors and their neighborhoods look warm and inviting. Not a trace of lake effect to be found.
On visitoswegony.com, a top 10 result in the search, the website calls the city a premier lakeside destination with “small town charm” and “nautical ambiance.” This tourism site skillfully points out the attractions of Oswego — everything from Harborfest, to Fort Ontario, to the amazing lakeside sunsets visitors can enjoy.
There is a lot to admire about the city. It does a lot with a little, and the residents are working on doing even more. They want their city to live up to that standard of being a premier lake destination.
I wonder though, if Oswego can be all it can be, if it ignores the community’s very real winter in the virtual world. On the visitoswegony.com website under festivals it only lists Harborfest and the Pumpkinfest. Wintertime Oswego is apparently fest-less.
There was a term in the military used by troops when they were sent over to the tough terrains like Afghanistan and Iraq. It was “Embrace the suck.” To translate, that means learning to embrace the hard parts of the situation in order to persevere and overcome them.
Oswego shouldn’t be afraid to show its three months (some say six) of winter to the rest of the world. It is certainly part of the reality of every day living in Upstate and often especially Oswego. Other areas that have embraced the adversity of their environment have been able to profit immensely from it.
The Adirondacks, for example, turned its barren winterscape into a snowmobiling mecca and a place for many intrepid souls to come climb the mountains in the winter. Can Oswego do something similar?
Sure, the city is an often bucolic small town with lots of things to do in the summer months. It represents itself well online for that half of the year. But what about Oswego in the wintertime?
There must be ways to feature the visceral, awesome beauty of the area in wintertime rather than just ignore it.
My findings: it’s summer all year long in cyber-Oswego. If the city chose to show its snow-packed underbelly to the rest of the world wide web it could “embrace the suck” and maybe show that the suck isn’t suck at all. It could be turned into a winter wonderland that would become a tourist spot for all four seasons.