July 25, 1996

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, July 25, 1996.

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 of 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):


Richard Seltzer 12:01pm -- The discussion on Business on the World Wide Web is due to take place here between noon and 1 PM.

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 Littleton, 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 is content rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention. And I'm also a member of the Boston Computer Society. The Web is a place where both big companies and the tiniest of operations can thrive.

Richard Seltzer 12:07pm -- In a chat session like this things can get pretty frantic. It's sometimes difficult to follow the threads of conversation. And there's no time to write down interesting URLs and facts. So last week, I took a copy of the raw transcript and edited it to make the threads clearer and posted it at my own little Web site so anyone could take a look. You can see it at I plan to do the same today. Barring technical difficulties, I hope to have a transcript up within two hours of when this ends. I'll post it at the same site, naming this one /chat3.html

Richard Seltzer 12:03pm -- If you are out there intending to take part in the Business on the WWW discussion please identify yourself and let us know about your interests.

anonymous 12:05pm -- Erik Wheeler. Web entrepreneur and consultant. Created Collector Online (antiques and Collectibles) about a year ago. Getting 140,000 hits a mo. now.

Richard Seltzer 12:07pm -- Erick, welcome. Where are you located?

Warren Agin 12:08pm -- Hi, I'm the principal of Law Solutions, which provides legal solutions to high-tech and other start-ups. I'll just listen and try to learn something.

Erik Wheeler 12:09pm -- I'm in Burlington, VT. Indexing on engines, indexes, and forums, as well as word of mouth, gets most of our people in there. Have done a little printadv as well.

Richard Seltzer 12:09pm -- Warren and Erik -- what are your URLs so we can take a look afterwards?

Erik Wheeler 12:10pm -- Collector Online:

Warren Agin 12:10pm -- but it is still somewhat under construction.

J&B 12:10pm -- We are an ERP Software company curious about doing business on the Web.

Richard Seltzer -- What is ERP Software?

J&B 12:14pm -- Enterprise Requirement Planning which used to be known as MRP (Material Requirement Planning). All applications of a business, AR, AP, GL, Manufacturing, are all integrated under one software package. 


Richard Seltzer 12:08pm -- This morning I received the following note: Saw your comments in I-Sales list. Would like to have some discussion on fax and internet integration. Is this something that companies should be taking seriously? If so, how can they incorporate fax into their internet plan? -- H. Perry H. Perry, are you out there now?

Richard Seltzer 12:10pm -- Following up on that email question I got, there are many different ways of using FAX with the Internet.

related broad topics -- Are these topics of interest to those of you out there now? And if so, do any of you have personal experience in this area, as business people or as consumers?

J&B 12:12pm -- We are working on a FAX-LINK product to fax all the standard forms and reports on our ERP system. What software is necessary to do this over the WEB?

Richard Seltzer 12:14pm -- J&B -- regarding FAX, because I got that email question earlier, I put together a quick list of some FAX and related applications -- here it is:

Universal Access Inc. -- -- Web Fax can retrieve WWW docs with FAX and touchtone phone)

DialWeb and A-Mail(from Telet Communications, formerly Audiowav) These applications (based on RealAudio software) link the telephone and the Internet in very useful ways. A-mail purportedly lets you phone, FAX, page, or email to as many people as you like with a single phone call. DialWeb purportedly lets you change audio files on your Web site using your telephone. You dial their automated system and follow the voice prompts.

Real Audio -- realtime sound (recorded or live) over the Internet

Vocal Tec (Internet Phone) use Internet for phone calls

Electric Magic (NetPhone) -- use Internet for phone calls

DSP Group (TrueSpeech)

Netcharger This software purportedly lets you include voice call-back applications in your Web pages. For example, a customer could place an order by filing out an on-line form and, instead of including credit card information, provide a phone number. The Web server prompts the voice response system, which dials the customer back using a standard voice line, and prompts the customer through a series of questionsto validate the credit card.

VDOPhone (from VDOLive) One step up from an Internet telephone, VDOPhone purportedly lets you place a call to or receive a call from any other Internet user with this same software and transmit two-way color video and audio or audio only, over modem connections (14.4 and up). You can download the beta version to try it out, but you need a video-capture card and camera to use it.

Richard Seltzer 12:16pm -- If you want to check out FAX-related Internet stuff, search engines don't seem too helpful, because the word "FAX" appears in so many documents thatare irrelevant. I suggest checking the Internet Mall, their fourth floor with telephone and telecommunications services -- Internet Mall, fourth floor, telephone and communications services

Erik Wheeler 12:14pm -- Haven't had any experience with faxing and the Web.

Richard Seltzer ( 12:20pm -- Erik -- My one experience with FAXing and the Web was simply an experiment. There are some relay services out there, kind of like the old pony express, where you can send a message over the Internet and have it delivered by FAX, without having to pay or paying very little. It's been a while since I've done that. Any others with more recent experience? Also, a number of businesses let you FAX credit card info to them and then issue by FAX a PIN which you use to do business with them over the Web, without worrying about security. (The Internet Shopping Network first did that a couple years ago).

Heidi 12:13pm -- Fax isn't sexy, so to speak, but it sure seems to be a workhouse. Does anyone disagree?

Heidi 12:24pm -- I know we're trying to create a paperless society, but just seems to me that we as humans like to touch, mark up and peruse documents at our leisure. So, is faxing from a web site something we should take seriously?

J&B 12:26pm -- Heidi, You could still make a hard copy of the fax and mark it up.

Erik Wheeler 12:28pm -- I seem to have a very sloooow connection here, so that's the reason for the delay here... Thanks for the info, Richard. That may come in handy for us or our clients.

Richard Seltzer 12:28pm -- Heidi -- I agree about paper. But what's interesting to me is innovative ways of combining media. It's already possible for someone who doesn't havea browser connection to the Web to receive Web pages by FAX (admittedly just a stop gap). And automatic FAX-back response can sometimes be desirable. Just as automatic telephone-back for conveying info that for one reason or another you'd be uncomfortable entering in a forms-box on the Web. Some of this stuff is just a matter of human comfort/habit, but the possibilities are amazing.

Heidi 12:31pm -- J&B - Yes, but what if you have literally thousands of pages of documentation that you do not wish to put on your web site? What about accessing them at the web site. The inquirer chooses from an index of documents, enters his/her fax number, and a fax server sends those stored documents to fax number.

Erik Wheeler 12:35pm -- Re fax: Seems like it would also be a great way to get up-to-date info to people that may not want or be able to access the Web. For us, for example, we could have a list of items wanted, and then fax a message to the appropriate dealers who have such items.

Warren Agin 12:36pm -- Erik - you may also be able to integrate your webpage with a proprietary program or other program to allow for automatic creation of the faxes.

Erik Wheeler 12:38pm -- Warren - Yes, that would be ideal.

Richard Seltzer 12:39pm -- Erik -- That sounds right on target. If you have a business that deals with many different partners/suppliers, you could have an on-line list of resources, and sometimes clicking on a link connects you to a Web page, sometimes it's a simple email mailto: and sometimes it initiates an automatic FAX. (But the FAX part of that is obviously just a stopgap fix. Within a year very few businesses will be without some kind of Internet connection.)

Heidi 12:38pm -- Erik - This is somewhat along my thinking. I understand there are an estimated 400 million fax users compared to 100 million internet users (the great majority of which only have e-mail access). We are considering an e-mail-on-demand option where the inquirer can choose to have heavy graphic documents faxed or e-mailed as an attachment.

Warren Agin 12:39pm -- Heidi, for example Erik may be able to fax to users information sheets and photographs of his product instead of sending it over the web.

Erik Wheeler 12:41pm -- Heidi: yes, good point re: the fax #s. What are the documents are you sending, if you can say?

Richard Seltzer 12:41pm -- Heidi -- The FAX thing is particularly effective if your audience is largely local. Otherwise, you're going to want to hook up with some servicethat uses the Internet instead of regular telephone dial-up to do the long-distance portion of the call. With that in place then the usefulness/viability of a FAX-back option is likely to continue for years -- especially as a way to reach folks in third world countries.

Erik Wheeler 12:45pm -- Richard: Exactly. I'm getting excited about this idea! This may be a very attractive service to offer. The really interesting thing will be in a year or two, when the "Network Computers" take hold. Then an Inet connection will be as essential to biz as faxes are now.

Simplest Web Application = Content/Information

J&B -- What is the easiest way to create a simple web appllication?

Warren Agin 12:11pm -- J&B - probably easiest to hire a consultant.

Richard Seltzer 12:11pm -- J&B -- The simplest Web "application" is information/content.

Warren Agin 12:12pm -- Richard, you lost me. What does "information/content" mean?

J&B -- What is an example of information content?

Richard Seltzer 12:17pm -- J&B -- Information/content -- I just meant that what users find of most value is plain old information. That providing info that people want in a simple and easy-to-use manner is probably the most popular and effective Internet "application".

J&B 12:20pm -- Back to Information/content. Could we use software like Java to create a query form which would go out and find the requested information on our database or is there something easier to use?

Warren Agin 12:23pm -- There are a number of good applications which will link databases with webpages. Object Design in Burlington makes a rather nice suite which will work with both SQL and object oriented databases and, I believe, they are working on Java versions of their tools.

Warren Agin 12:26pm -- J&B - is the homepage for Object Design.

J&B 12:25pm -- Thanks Warren... We'll have to check them out.

Warren Agin 12:25pm -- You have a few options - you can have a webpage based form that allows the user to access your database. Some programs will let you automatically refresh or update your webpage (IE daily or hourly) to refelct changes in underlying database information. You can also create systems with "assemeble" webpages on the fly incorporating database information.

Richard Seltzer 12:25pm -- J&B -- I'm a believer in plain old HTML pages, rather than databases. If you put your info into pages (regardless of how long they are), it will be indexed by search engines like AltaVista and all kinds of people will find you and learn that you're in that business. If you go to all the work and cost of putting it into a database, you won't be indexed and won't be found. The cheaper way is actually more effective.

J&B 12:28pm -- Richard-- We have info on our web page, but we would like to be able to demonstrate transaction processing over the Web... Is Object Design a solution in this regard as well? -> Warren?

Warren Agin 12:31pm -- J&B - I don't believe they have a transaction processing tool. Their focus is database integration. Plenty of products are out there for transaction processing though. Hard to sort through all of the options.

Richard Seltzer 12:32pm -- J&B -- I'm not familiar with Object Design. But it certainly sounds like a good idea to offer on-line demos. (Digital had great success doing that with kick-the-tires Alpha machines available for free trial use over the Internet).

J&B 12:34pm -- We sell DEC Alphas... I know they are heavy into the internet now days.... maybe they have software that could help us with what we want to accomplish.

Richard Seltzer 12:36pm -- J&B -- Send me email with more specifics on what you want to accomplish and I'll try to get you in touch with the right folks.

Richard Seltzer 12:30pm -- Warren, Those on the fly things can be very good. and it's always good if you can tailor the experience at a Web site to the individual user. But you should also make much of the same content available in static pages as well to reach the millions of folks who are heavy users of search engines like AltaVista.

Warren Agin 12:33pm -- Richard - good point about the search engines. There are ways around that problem though. One way is to create a static front page access to the dynamic pages.


Richard Seltzer 12:07pm -- Erick, what do you do to get people to return? Any interactive applications like chat and forum?

Erik Wheeler 12:12pm -- Content seems to bring most people back. They're desperate to find that elusive collectible or antique! My next task, tho, is to attract more advertisers for banner ads. Trying to find out more about that.

Warren Agin 12:15pm -- Erik, I have been selling some banner space on one of my pages. With your volume I suspect you might be large enough to talk to the agencies. I understand a number of the traditional advertisement placement agencies are working with websites. I.E. you don't contact the companies directly, but work with their advertising agencies to attact the advertisements.

Erik Wheeler 12:26pm -- Warren: Thanks. Can you suggest any agencies to contact?

Warren Agin 12:28pm -- Erik - unfortunately no. I read an article in Time magazine on the subject about three months ago. The article may have mentioned a few names. Try calling the major N.Y. agencies. My recollection is that ad rates were about three cents per impression.

Erik Wheeler 12:31pm -- Warren: OK, thanks. I think we could get a few banner ads, since our audience is generally in a high income bracket, with lots of disposable income...

Richard Seltzer 12:33pm -- Erik -- Regarding agencies, try Larry Chase at the On-Line Agency in New York. (If you want his email address, send me an email -- I'll have to look it up.) He's very knowledgeable.

Warren Agin 12:55pm -- Erik, I site like yours could be the next Home Shopping Network.

Erik Wheeler 12:56pm -- Warren: Oooooh, I hope so! Yes, I have a funny feeling it could take off if I get the marketing right. There are hundreds of millions of $$$ spent on antiques...

Bench Marking of Manufacturing Software Companies

J&B 12:19pm -- Our Director of Business Consulting is also interested in Bench Marking different companies in the Manufacturing Software Field. Is there a source on the internet?

Richard Seltzer 12:22pm -- J&B -- I'd first check which is a site which focuses on manufacturing. Then I'd do a number of searches using AltaVista especially checking newsgroups to see which ones are discussing similar issues. Then I'd post my questions to those newsgroups. What's your company? Are you on the Web?

J&B 12:23pm -- Interactive Group, Inc. Our Web Page is at


Heidi 12:32pm -- Richard - I'm curious as to where you think technology is going?

Richard Seltzer 12:35pm -- Heidi -- I believe that there are very interesting opportunities in mixing media -- Internet with telephone, television, FAX, etc. The reasons for the mixing might be human/psychological, or they might be added utility. But for a relatively small investment, two or more well established means for communicating can be linked together, often (like with Internet phone) dramatically reducing costs. And that this kind of thing can be done quickly and inexpensively without shooting for "hear the pin drop" quality -- rather providing just enough quality to be really useful.

J&B 12:39pm -- Heidi-- what is your take on the direction of technology especially as it pertains to the WEB?

Heidi 12:45pm -- Good question? The answer... I don't know! However, I do think that all technological hands will be in the pot and that we will see an incredible amount of integration. Instead of being the internet, it will be your personal communications center.

Richard Seltzer 12:47pm -- Erik -- I'm inclined to think more in terms of human nature and common sense rather than whiz-bang technology. All the technology we need to do incredible stuff is in place already. People just haven't effectively applied it. If you use what's there to the fullest and build an audience and serve that on-line audience, you'll be in an excellent position to adopt and adapt to further improvements in technology as they come along.

Richard Seltzer 12:50pm -- Heidi -- I'm with you. But I'm not convinced that there will be much integration for a while. There will be multiple ways to access Internet-based information and there will be multiple other ways to disseminate information. It will be an amazing hodgepodge, with technology that was invented many years apart all coexisting one way or another. Remember it doesn't have to be all that easy for people to get utility out of it. Often plain old sweat can substitute for advanced engineering, and many people will go that route.

Erik Wheeler 12:50pm -- Richard: Yes, but many people can't afford or refuse to spend the $2,000 plus needed to take advantage of the Inet. The buyer market for PCs is saturated.

Richard Seltzer 12:53pm -- Erik -- There will be cheaper alternatives -- by way of your cable TV, etc. Some of them won't have full functionality. You may end up with half a dozen different ways to access the Internet from your house, only one of which is full-blown.

Erik Wheeler 12:54pm -- Yeah, that's true. Wow, will the Internet ever explode then!


Warren Agin 12:43pm -- Recently, a U.S. company operating a server in Italy was ordered by a U.S. Court to bar U.S. residents from accessing that server because the content violated a trademark of a U.S. Company. Any thoughts on the unavoidably international scope of anything placed on a web server and the effect on business practices?

Richard Seltzer 12:45pm -- Warren -- International implications are interesting and probably favor small companies, deemed not worth the effort of suing. Large internationalcompanies are likely to have their hands tied, while little ones conduct guerrilla warfare.

Warren Agin 12:47pm -- Good point Richard. The large internationals will be subject to jurisdiction in numerous countries while smaller countries can locate wherever the laws are favorable and do what they want.


J&B 12:42pm -- Thanks for your help everyone! We have to sign off now. When will this session reconvene?

Richard Seltzer 12:43pm -- J&B --- We're here every Thursday noon to 1 PM eastern US time. Send me suggestions on what you'd like to talk about next time. and check the transcripts -- this one will be at in about two hours.

Erik Wheeler 12:47pm -- Can we get everyone's e-mail addresses? -

Warren Agin 12:48pm --

Heidi 12:49pm -- ... Thanks!

Richard Seltzer 12:50pm --

Richard Seltzer 12:51pm -- It's getting a bit late and I want to catch your thoughts before you sign off. Is there a topic area you'd particularly like to discuss next Thursday? (If I know in advance, I can try to recruit some experts to join us.)

Heidi 12:52pm -- Richard - The INTRANET is one I'm particularly interested in.

Richard Seltzer 12:54pm -- Heidi -- I'd love to focus on the intranet, but for that to work we need to get some good "talkers" who have first hand experience. Intranet is largely invisible to folks outside the firewall. I can talk about what it's like at Digital, but need other folks to join in about how their companies use it. Volunteers? Suggestions?

Richard Seltzer 12:55pm -- Re: intranet, please send me email if that's what you'd like to discuss next time and if you know of people who might be willing to participate/help out. (preferably with email addresses.)

Heidi 12:58pm -- Richard - Try Intranet Soundings Forum at: OR Intranet Exchange at: These forums have technicians participating who manage their companies' Intranets. You may be able to get some of them to participate.

Richard Seltzer 12:59pm -- Heidi -- thanks for the pointer. All -- I've think we've reached the end of our time. Please tune in again next Thursday noon to 1 PM.

Richard Seltzer 12:55pm -- Remember, I'll post a transcript of this session at within about two hours so you can check there for email addresses and URL. Thanks all.

Erik Wheeler 12:55pm -- Bye everyone, and thanks again.

Warren Agin 12:55pm -- Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.


From: "von Tersch, Martin" <> Date: Thu, 25 Jul 96 13:21:00 EDT

Subject: Intranet for Future Chat Session

I'm interested in seeing a discussion of intranets in a future chat session.

I'm responsible for evaluating and perhaps establishing an intranet in small company of about 200 that is a distributorship for business furnishings for larger corporate clients throughout New England. I guess this would make me a lurker.

The kinds of thing I'm looking at are:

Thank you,

Martin von Tersch, Office Environments of New England, Boston, MA

From: SoCoOL Bob <> Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 02:27:04 +0000

Saw your message in the ISales Digest. Since I received the message after the time of the live program, I was unable to participate .... thought I'd send you an ex post facto EMail concerning what, for me, is an ONGOING CONTROVERSY.

Eight days ago, I mailed, actually a single piece of EMail to a guy named Dan at a public radio station in California. I confess, it was a part of a list building project .... my wanting to have a list of "media types" to EMail press releases and promotional pieces. Dan has his EMail address posted on the radio station's Web Page with the reference ... send comments and suggestions to this address. Dan objected to my EMail ... and complained to my ISP ... who agreed this was "offending" and suggested I cease and desist.

Frankly, Richard, a short analysis would suggest this is a "pile of cowpies" .... BUT .... several others, perhaps the majority, would somehow agree with Dan and the ISP .... and ... would RESTRICT my behavior .... OUCH ....

In response, I have begun the "We Can't Let These Yo-Yo's Control the INTERNET Massacree Movement." The PRESS RELEASE/Promotional Piece to which Dan objected ... was about yo-yo's ***** WARNING ***** for adult minds only

I would very much appreciate, if, as a part of your program, you could discuss, and "actualize" the considerate action of those who "understand" the point of view of the "professional marketeer and communicator" ... We don't want our BEHAVIOR modified UNREASONABLY.

We're willing to LISTEN .... because we all "need" to learn .... BUT modifying our BEHAVIOR to try and please people who are NOT PLEASEABLE ... is not an acceptable FORMULA for communication.

For those who may remember, or who will visit the "Massacree," Arlo Guthrie recorded a song in the 60's .... and demonstrated and attitude of the 60's that quite often produced positive results. IF one person complains ... they may think he's crazy and write him off. IF two people complain they may think they're both GAY and reject them. BUT .... if three people complain ... then four and five and a hundred ... they'll think it's a MOVEMENT ... and perhaps they'll PAY ATTENTION to all the complexities of FREEDOM.

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