February 6, 1997 -- International Aspects of Internet Business

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, February 6, 1997, noon to 1 PM. These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM US Eastern Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to or go to and sign up there.
For transcripts other previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here.

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here.

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


On February 6, experienced some technical problems. At first no one could connect. Then after 12:15 PM some but not all people were able to get on. The host ,(Richard Seltzer) wasn't able to connect until about 12:30. By that time, had posted a notice that the chat session had been cancelled. But so many people were connected and intered in discussing the topic, that the discussion did continue and (thanks to extended until nearly 1:30.

Given these circumstances, there were none of the usual introductory comments and explanations, such as:

Richard Seltzer -- The scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW.If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment in Marlboro, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business.I also have my own personal Web page -- which iscontent rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

In a chat session like this things can get pretty frantic. It's sometimesdifficult to follow the threads of conversation. And there's no time to write down intering URLs and facts. So last week, I took a copy of the raw transcript and edited it to make the threadsclearer and posted it at my own little Web site so anyone could takea look. You can see it at I plan to do the same today. Barring technical difficulties, I hope to have a transcript up later today. 


Todd -- 12:16pm -- ( Anybody out there? I'm trying to locate the scheduled chat on business on the WWW.

Bill Dunlap 12:16pm -- ( -- try harder. {} ---- -- Hello, Richard - are you there? Calling in from France

anonymous 12:16pm -- ( awaiting this discussion

sudha ( 12:16pm -- ( Todd,I am also looking for Richard Seltzer's chat

TheForth-- 12:16pm -- (, hope we have a good session today.

anonymous12:17pm -- ( Faber is the anonymous waiting for discussion. Hi, Bill, how's Paris?

sudha ( 12:17pm --( Everyone, lets get started. Richard should join us shortly

Harris ( 12:17pm -- (, we don't have to wait for Richard do we? How many countries are we? I'm in Cambridge Mass

TheForth-- 12:17pm -- ( everyone else have connection problems?

Bill Dunlap {} 12:18pm -- (, Joan, I'm here. Glad you could join us!

sudha 12:18pm -- -- ( Bill, Do you have a standard french reader for sites?

Todd-- 12:19pm -- ( Looks like there were some technical difficulties.Maybe Richard will be along later. BTW,I'm in the US (New Jersey).

Kathleen Gilroy 12:20pm ---- -- (, Richard. It was difficult for me to connect. 12:21pm -- ( are attempting to fix some technical difficulties we are having. We are planning on canceling this scheduled chat unless Richard is able to get in. We are looking into ALL these problems immediately and apologize for any inconvenience.

Harris ( - 12:23pm --- ( this is a case study of inconvenience

Todd 12:24pm -- 855249858 ---- ( It looks like were working now. Don't cancel since we're already here.

Richard Seltzer 12:29pm -- ( --Sorry to be so late. I gather was having problems. I couldn'tconnect. Who's here? And can we get going? I gather that will keep this area open for us until 1:30 if that makes sense.

sudha ( 12:30pm -- -- -- ( Richard. Good you are here. We are just warming up.

Richard Seltzer-- 12:30pm -- ( see a lot of discussion has been going on. I'll try to catch up and join in.

sudha ( 12:33pm -- ( Richard, So far Harris is sugging some Russian magazines for me to inckude in Coola.Bill Dunlap briefed about Bill Gates recent visit to Paris and we are now talking about Internet access in Europe.

Richard Seltzer-- 12:36pm -- ( --Thanks for the quick summary.I know that Bill Dunlap is in Europe.Are there others connected now who arein countries other than the US?

Richard Seltzer 12:32pm -- ( Just to get on track, could the folks who are connected give a quick introduction of yourselves.

Akenneth grimard--12:30pm -- ( see that you made good deal

Joan- 12:31pm -- ( Faber, Faber Associates International Marketing from Springfield, NJ

Bill Ross-- 12:35pm -- (, I just spent a number of frustrating minutes trying to find this convention - ask the Globe if they can do a better job at visibility.

Richard Seltzer--12:55pm ( -- please stay on says we can have this space until 1:30, because of their technical difficulties.

Atheraja--1:01pm -- (

Bill Gates at PC Show in Paris

Bill Dunlap -- try harder. {} 12:17pm -- (, Todd. This was the big week in Paris. Bill Gates was here yerday, addressing the large PC show of the year, and then the President of France and the French Senate. About what? The Internet... and the French.

Todd 12:20pm -- ( - any good news out of the show or from Bill Gates?

Bill Dunlap ( 12:23pm -- ( about the Net from Europe. Gates was at the big Davaos economic summit last week, and with the top heads of state this trip. But big message: connect up to the Net, or be left behind. It still costs too much for Europeans to connect to the Net (telecom charges in Europe).

Access Charges in Europe

Todd 12:26pm -- ( - how much will an average net surferpay? Is service mostly nationalized or private in France/Europe?

Bill Dunlap ( 12:28pm --- -- (, the typical charge in the daytime is $2.50-4 per hour (night it's as cheap as $1.30/hour). But even working nights alone, I'm still paying $250 per month for just a local connection, 30 hours/week.

Todd-- 12:34pm -- ( - ouch! Is that going to the phone company or your ISP, or are they one andthe same?

Bill Dunlap ( 12:35pm --- -- ( - those charges I mentioned are France Telecom (the loal monopoly... until next Jan.). The ISP costs $20 or $30/mo., like in the States. It's just the time online that costs. 


Harris ( 12:19pm -- ( let's move ahead--I need advice on email that supports Russian/Cyrillic--mine doesn't (unless I don't know how)

sudha ( -- ( Harris, I can't help you with a Russian site reader.But I am looking to expand my site Coola with more international magazines. Maybe you can suggest some.

Harris (, you want magazines in Russian? I know several good ones

Harris ( 12:24pm (, yes, almost nobody in St. Petersburg Russia knows WWW, though they might have email

Bill Dunlap ( 12:26pm (, I've heard that lots of Americans are interested in doing business online with Russia... and yet there are only 50,000 Russians online. What's the beef?

Joan Faber 12:27pm -- ( I have received many business offers from Russia with URL's attached.

sudha ( ( Harris, Yup, I'd love to hear of online magazines. Maybe you can email some names +URL to me.I'll appreciate it.

Harris 12:29pm (, you and I know different people. What do you mean, business offers?

Joan Faber, 12:35pm -- ( many of the offers are commodities on the trading nets. Others are services to guide you through the Russian maze: legal, translators, office services, tec. etc. They all need to be checked out.

Harris-- 12:32pm -- ( Joan, I know group in Russia needs help with international patent protection--do you know anyone who can help? I'm working with privatization, joint ventures in R&D

Harris ( 12:37pm --( I'll email you thanks

Richard Seltzer--12:34pm -- ( --Warren Agin, who frequently joins the sessions is a lawyer who deals with Internet issues. Send me email and I'll send you his email address.I'm at

Harris ( - -- ( thanks Richard 

Language Support/Translation

TheForth--12:31pm -- ( would be interested to see what peoples opinions are about local language support.

Richard Seltzer--12:33pm -- -- (, yes I too would be interested in people's experience with local language.When is it necessary? What are the benefits?What are the costs?

TheForth--12:39pm -- ( guess local language is important if you are in the country and address the local audience. But how important is it for say someone in Europe to cover more than 1 language audience?

Richard Seltzer-- 12:43pm -- ( language/translation, I also invited folks from Globalink.http://www.globalink.comThey have some interesting automated translation software and translation services.

Richard Seltzer--12:45pm - ( setting up multi-language sites --I just received the following message from Kaye Vivian, who often joins thesesessions but can't be with us today --

From: Kaye Vivian {} -- Date: Wed, 05 Feb 1997 22:20:17 -0500As for tomorrow's conference, I will chip in one little tidbit related to that discussion that I would have mentioned, had I been there. Last week I installed NetObjects Fusion...the new beta version (2.0f)... and it is a *fabulous* product for those web site developers coming more from a desktop publishing background. () It uses templates and frames (in the desktop publishing sense) to lay out work visually on a page. Then once you have it the way you want it visually, it converts it to HTML code. So it's not an HTML editor...I still have to use Netscape 3.0g for that after the page is "final". It's truly a web layout program, combined with a really good site manager facility. And the whole thing is very intuitive...much easier to use than Microsoft's FrontPage, which I have been using, and apparently just as powerful. What's relevant to your session tomorrow is that you can offer text or multilanguage site versions by simply clicking a button! This is a really wonderful product and deserves all the rave press it's been getting. I'm about to develop a multilingual site, and I'll let you know how it works out. Kaye Vivian P.S. The software download is a big's a 15 meg download that expands to take about 35 or 40 megs of disk space.

sudha ( 12:44pm -- ( Richard, We really missed your moderation.I think the most global aspect of the net that is being used is in mass marketing via emails. In some ways it is annoying when we get unsolicited emails. But its also great when we get a partnership call from someone across the globe we never knew existed.

TheForth--12:47pm ( I agree that email is a great way to communicate with diverse audiences. But, the same questions exists: "Do you translate or not?" or "Is translating worth the money/investment?"

Bill Dunlap ( -- -- ( Translation is imperative for the important pages (maybe just 2 or 3, to get one's feet wet). That "hooks" the overseas visitor, and if they're intered, they might well read English... although they wouldn't immediately follow an English Webpage from the start. Of course, this assumes that a company knows what to do with email that comes in in all those languages. Another service industry is being born here!

Joan Faber, 12:50pm -- -- ( just had two Estonian businessmen here for 2 weeks. They spoke broken English and could understand what I said. But they can't READ it. I send them faxes to save phone bills, but they call me back on the phone because they can't WRITE English.Thus the need for translations, and just as important, the need to promote the web site according to the habits, needs and expectations of the particular country.

Harris ( 12:53pm - ( you need translation to Russian, my wife does that--with faxes, email, all the time

TheForth--12:47pm ( I agree that email is a great way to communicate with diverse audiences. But, the same questions exists: "Do you translate or not?" or "Is translating worth the money/investment?"

TheForth--12:56pm (, Joan: This supports my experiences. A local language version of the Home Page and at least local language abstracts of key content are a good start if not a must. However, in the past I have found it hard to get good (quality/native) translations in a timely manner. My native languageis German, I live in the US and most translation software I have seen would not do...

sudha ( 12:54pm --- ( Translation cost on email can be left to the reader.For example (of Australia) is a network of thousands of people who speak "Tamil" language mostly located in Singapore, Malaysia, parts of India and US. They have a reader for mailers that is distributed by Eudora which translated English to Tamil using a software called "Anjal".Thats economically feasible. I speak on in English. It is translated to various language by the reader.

TheForth-- 12:58pm -- ( Do you have a pointer to the company who produces this software. It sounds to good to be true.Are you receiving messages in English which have been translate from "Tamil?" How is the qulaity?Is it better then broken English?

sudha ( -- ( Forth:'Anjal; is the package which does tranlations to tamil at the email program end. You can find details at I think the person who maintains this site is Muthu (

TheForth--1:05pm -- ( Thanks for the pointer.

Bill Ross--1:11pm -- ( - re: that real-time translating you mentioned a while back - the only problem there is the chance that they will interpret something incorrectly. I'd think you'd really need a native speaker on the other end to monitor for that possibility.

Joan Faber, 1:13pm -- ( Ross: And you need professional translators. I just did an article called 'Don't Ask Aunt Sophie' The nuances are the most important thing in translating..and they will trip you up every time.

sudha ( 1:01pm -- -- ( SInce we have are talking about various languages and translation, I can raise this question now:We are adding many foreign language periodicals to deliver by email in I am having a tough time maintaining a standard for sites to add in languages I don't know.For example, I added Indian languages I knew. Then got help from a friend in Indonesia and added some magazines she suggested. I found many other magazines with sites in foreign languages and don't have a clue where to start?Any help will be appreciated.

Need for consulting

Harris ( 12:21pm -- can one of you advise/consult after this chat?

sudha ( 12:26pm -- ( Harris, What kind of advice or cunsulting are you looking for?I'll be glad to help in some areas. Richard is a great resource on a variety of web topics and is very accessible by email.

Products/services of participants

Todd--12:36pm - (, what kind of products/services do you market?

sudha ( 12:37pm -- ( Joan/Harris, can you please help what kind of service you provide? One of ourWeb-Net members is looking for help/advice instarting an internet venture from UK. Is this something you can help?

Joan Faber, -- ( My company asists in planning and implementing marketing strategies and does export management. We specialize in companies new to foreign markets.

Harris ( -- (, I'm a consultant on crossing cultural boundaries--that covers a lot.

sudha ( -- ( Harris and Joan. Do you specialize in a specific foreign market? How do you reach the foreign market? Do you have partners there?BTW, my email is I think you might be able to help some of our members. I'll connect them via email later.

How to serve a global audience?

Richard Seltzer--12:39pm -- ('d like to open up the discussion a bit.yes, I'm interested in differences like the cost of access and the composition ofthe audience in different countries.But the I'm also interested in how one can take advantage of the truism that the Internet is global. If you are on the Web, you can reach customers around the world.. Okay, now you're on the Web, so what next? How do you serve those customers? How do you make your information useful to a global audience? If you want to do business on line, how do you appeal to those distant customers and how do you serve them? And what pitfalls -- cultural and legal -- do you need to look out for?

Joan Faber, 12:41pm -- ( In going global, we believe the first thing is know your market and approach them according to the dictates of that culture.

Harris ( 12:42pm -- -- ("on the Web"--you mean you have a website? You know the Controversy between France and Georgia Tech. Many websites in Russia require Cyrillic.

Richard Seltzer--12:42pm -- ( --Regarding the cultural barrier issue,I was hoping that we'd have someone on-line from Nikkei (Considering the problems I'vehad connecting to this chat today from Boston, I can imagine the problems they must face.)They have a new venture Japanbiztech whichlooks like it aims at helping non-Japanesecompanies bridge the cultural barrier andreach Japanese markets. You might want to check their web site (in the beginning stages)

sudha ( 12:44pm -- ( Richard, We really missed your moderation.I think the most global aspect of the net that is being used is in mass marketing via emails. In some ways it is annoying when we get unsolicited emails. But its also great when we get a partnership call from someone across the globe we never knew existed.

Services to help businesses use the Internet to reach global audiences

Richard Seltzer--12:57pm -- ( --Good advice. But is there any site or service to help business people understand the particular online needs (habit, language,culture, etc.) of particular countries (and particular industries within particular countries.) For instance,where but here could I have picked up that tidbit about Estonia?

Richard Seltzer-- 1:00pm -- ('s try to gather some pointers to relevant resources.Please send me email with URLs of translation services, etc. that could be helpful to businesses trying to use the Internet to sell to a global market.I'll gather those messages and add themto the transcript for this session.And -- if there are enough good ones to merit it -- I'll put a consolidated listat my Web site for future reference.Send to

Joan Faber, ( Of course I do. Try Global Reach at and just speak to Bill Dunlap and Joan Faber for the Global Reach program.

Harris ( -- ( are country-specific sites with the help you ask for, including lists of all servers--you probably know the ones in Russia

Richard Seltzer-- 1:08pm ( --I know what you mean by country specific Web sites. But what I'm looking for are 1) lists of translation services2) lists of outfits whose business it is to help companies deal with the special problems that can arise in doing business outside your home country.

Harris ( -- -- ( with special problems has to be country-specific--and some of us provide that help; no, I've never seen "lists"

Richard Seltzer--1:15pm -- ( --I haven't seen lists of this kind of resource either. That's why I thoughtit might be useful to try to put onetogether. Now if you want that kind ofhelp, you just have to hope you know someone who knows someone...And yes, some is country specific, some islanguage or region specific. There are specialists and generalists, individual consultants and companies. I'd like to hear about them and what they do.

Logistics of delivery

Bill Dunlap ( - -- (, one of the bigg problems in treating global business on the Net (besides the linguistic issue), is pure logistics of delivery (assuming it's a product). FedEx, UPS and DHL are way too expensive to deliver product overseas. Does anyone know of a U.S.-based solution for product delivery that would be reasonably priced, say, for someone in Europe who wanted to buy 3 CDs online from a U.S. Website?

Harris ( 12:46pm - -- ( postal service much cheaper than DHL; reliable even to Russia

sudha ( 12:47pm -- (, there are local US companies which network with local partners in different companies and offer such a service. There is one in Cambridge. I can lookup the URL for you.


Harris ( -- ( Internet--China is trying to keep it out. The telcom is the key--who knows about using satellite dishes instead of phone lines?

sudha ( --- -- ( of China: did you hear about the China-Wide-Web.They are building a whole Internet backbone within china. Wish we had someone from china to share their thoughts on this.There is an article about this in Feb issue of Software Magazine

Jim (jlindenthal@bigfoot.com12:56pm -- (, I have a contact in Hong Kong that might be able to give us some more information aboutthe China-Wide-Web. I will see if I canget hold of him.

sudha ( -- - -- ( Jim, Thanks . That will be great.

Harris ( --- ( niece is in Nanjing, says access is very difficult--hardware, dialtone, politically.

Richard Seltzer-- 1:01pm --( China, a colleague of mine in the Internet Business Groupat Digital just returned from a couple weeks in the Far East, visiting customersand partners and attending trade shows.I'll try to get a quick report from himfor posting with the transcript here.(He's tied up in meetings today andhence couldn't join us on-line). His name is Mark Conway.

sudha ( -- ( Richard. That's a great idea to post Mark Conway's comments in your transcript.

Speed Bumps Ahead

Todd-12:43pm -- - ( - The Federal Communications Commission. just put out a notice that the local phone cos in the US are asking for metered use of local phonelines because Internet logons mean the average connection ("conversation")is getting a lot longer.

Richard Seltzer--12:50pm ( term there seem to be numerous hurdles and barricades to deal with.Yes, the question of flat rate vs. meteredusage, also the desire of country and state government to get tax revenue from transactions that take place on the Web,also a multitude of conflicting laws (both the ones on the books already in different countries and new ones drafted by misguided legislators who don't understand the Internet environment). Add to that the insanity of the current restrictions on export from the US of high-level encryption capability. That's lots of speed bumps.Long term, I'm sure it will all be sortedout, but for now no one even knows who has the right to regulate and taxand "where" a vendor actually does business.I'd like to hear some war stories --tales of success and tales of frustrationfrom which we can get some guidance as tohow to deal with these headaches on a day-to-day basis and get the most out ofwhat remains of the global opportunity.

In praise of email

Richard Seltzer-- 12:55pm ( --Thanks for mentioning email. Far too often we just focus on the Web. But Web presence isonly useful if it is backed up people who canquickly and accurately answer the querihat come in. Far too often that isn'tthe case. I see this as like one of thoseold Maslow pyramids. At the base level you need responsive Internet-literate people, using email and newsgroups, etc.,keeping their eyes open and participatingand answering. On top of that you puta Web presence. And on top of that youadd local language, etc. If the base isn't there, you're probably wasting your money.

Harris ( --- -- (, my view is quite different; start with website and then go to email

Richard Seltzer--1:06pm ( --The main point is to think of the Internet as a way to connect with audiences. The more interactive the better. Putting upa Web site and having no way to follow through with customer contact is largelya waste of time and effort. The way I see it, you could start andrun a business with email and otheremail-like applications. But runninga Web site that is just static pages, with no people to back them up, wouldn't buy you much. The people contact reallybelongs at the bottom of the pyramid --Addendum -- it's not that email is soimportant, it's that interaction with theaudience is important. If you can makethat happen in ways that don't involveemail (e.g., chat, forum, etc.) fine.But email is the low common denominator,the easi way to make a direct connection.

Harris ( -- (, Richard--I agree--

sudha ( - -- ( Richard, I agree, people and their interaction is the most important element.I think we have a long way to form a true network of people/businesses across boundaries. Currently, the global nature of the net is used only for direct mailing Any comments?

sudha ( ( By direct mailing I mean the unsolicted emails I get about new products, service offers.There are sharewares available that can get email address of anyone mentioned in any web site on the internet. I get bulk mails subscribing me to lists because my email is out there where some of these robots can pick it.In fact, I hear about new ideas/products from another end of the world thru this. Most of it is useless junk and intrudes right into my email.

Richard Seltzer--1:23pm (, Harris --Regarding direct mail, I don't appreciatereceiving unsolicited email; but I do like what I see in the distribution list mail(listserv stuff) that I have subscribed to.(The I-Sales Digest is particularly useful).The trick is to identify your audience and get them to sign up to receive your kind ofinformation; or identify existing distribution lists that are well targeted to what youwant to say, so the people will welcome your messages. It's not easy. It's not very much like traditional direct-mail advertising. (And once again, you have to be prepared to answer when peopleget back to you by email -- which means answer at least within a day, better stillwithin an hour or less.)

Keeping track of the number of people in chat

Harris ( -- ( 4 people on now

Richard Seltzer-- 1:13pm ( --The number at the top of the page isthe number of folks who have posteditems in the last 10 minutes. has no way of tracking how many peopleare listening. (But in other on-lineapplications it usually is in the range ofabout 10 listeners for every one speaker.It has more to do with psychology than technology.)

Harris ( -- ('m so naive--you mean there are eavesdroppers? do you ever hear from them later?

Richard Seltzer--1:19pm ( --Yes, I frequently get email from people who have been listening in. And I alsodo an edited transcript (trying to sort out the threads of discussion) and postthat at my Web site, so people who can'tconnect from noon to 1 can read it there.And if people send followup comments andquions to me related to the chat topic,I add those followup messages to thetranscript. I try to make it as interactiveand open as possible. (That also makes it possible people for folks in other time zones to have their say -- especially important for a topic like this.) The way boston.comhas things set up, I probably won't get the raw transcript until tomorrow or Saturday.Check at

Partnership with business school in Pakistan?

Harris ( 1:13pm -- -- -- (, speaking of distance learning, I've been contacted by people in Karachi Pakistan looking for a US B-school to partner with--anyone have any leads?

Whose laws apply here?

TheForth--1:19pm -- ( - I have a little widget shop. The widget would sell nicely world-wide. I create a web site which supports multiple languages. Does anybody know what rules I have to follow when an order comes in. Am I liable under US law or the local country laws?

Richard Seltzer-- 1:24pm -- ( --I'll try to get Warren Agin to connect next week to address those legal issues.(They're getting more confusing everyday. I understand that California and Minnesota have passed some Internet commercerelated laws, and other states areheaded in the same direction. Madness.)

How to organize a business chat session?

Jim ( -- -- -- (, I trying to organize a chat session for my company. Was wondering if I can talk to you on how you started this chat area. You seem to have a good thing going. I really enjoyed the session today.

Richard Seltzer -- I just wrote an article on "How to make 'business chat' work". You can find it at


Richard Seltzer--1:11pm ( of you who are on-line, please give me a sense of whether you believe thatwe should continue this topic next week(hopefully without the technical glitches).I had planned to deal with distance education/trainingand on-line meetings at that time --which is actually a related subject.

sudha ( -- ( I think we should continue this topic next week. It will help if we focus our discussion on specific aspects and bring in people like Agin Warren for legal issues etc

TheForth--1:16pm - ( We should keep this going next week. We did not get to the business/commerce aspects of the issue.

sudha ( -- ( Bye folks. Thanks Richard. See you next week

TheForth 1:26pm -- ( Thanks. Looking forward to being there.Cheers

anonymous-1:27pm -- ( so long

Harris--1:27pm -- (

TheForth--1:27pm -- ( My email is:

Richard Seltzer--1:26pm -- ( to all for joining us.We'll have to vacate this "room" shortly.Please post your email addresses andURLs here for followup (even those of you who have been just listening).Please send you followup messages to me at And check for the transcript at

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

To connect to the chat room, go to

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