BUSINESS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB: where "word of keystroke" begins

August 28, 1997 -- The Social Web

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, August 28, 1997. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM Eastern Time (GMT -5 when standard time, GMT -4 when daylight savings time) every Thursday.

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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 suggestions 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):

Today's participants


Richard Seltzer -- We're back after a two-week vacation break. We'll be starting this chat session in about half an hour -- at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4). Our topic today is "The Social Web." That term refers to the structural elements of today's Web -- such as personal Web pages, full-text serach engines, and Web-based forums and chat -- which you can use to help people connect to people. This is the subject of a book I'm now writing. I made excellent progress on it over vacation, and hence this is what's uppermost on my mind right now.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Chris and Natalia. Please introduce yourselves. (We should be getting underway in about five minutes).

Natalia Nemzer -- I'm here now. Hello to everybody!

Richard Seltzer -- Natalia -- I know that you are in St. Petersburg, Russia. Please take a few moments to let the others in this session know more about your background and interests.

Natalia Nemzer -- I'm working in a engeneering firm and I'm going to find or organize a community of researchers in the field of heat treatment of steel rolls for rolling mills

Chris -- My company, Entrasoft, is very interested in the social dynamics and fabric of the web, particularly what aspects of can be leveraged to provide users products and services that are valuable to them. A community is a great vehicle to catalyze eCommerce.

Richard Seltzer -- Chris, where is Entrasoft located? how long have you been in operation? what kinds of services do you offer today?

Chris -- Entrasoft is located in Nashua, NH. We currently offer turnkey solutions to building full service web sites from electronic catalogs to enterprise activities (legacy integration and export to the web). We are a fresh strat-up founded in May '97.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Hello everyone - I am an independant consultant/developer in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area who provides Internet Services. I have been in the computer industry since the 60's and DBA Cottage Micro Services since 1987.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Bob. From your previous posts in this chat session, I know that you are very familiar with the community/social aspects of the Internet and also Internet business. I'd be very interested in getting your reactions to this notion of the "social Web".

Ed Jaros -- Good Morning/ Afternoon all. Ed Jaros from Sunny Green Bay, Wisconsin USA.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Ed. Also, I see a lot of others just joined us. Please introduce yourselves and let us know your interests. That will help us move quickly to get a real discussion going.

bjoern -- Hi. Sorry, but I was to late. My name is Bjoern.

Richard Seltzer -- Bjoern, from your email address it looks like you are in Germany, perhaps a student at the University of Erlangen? Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

bjoern -- Richard, that's right You got me. I am a student from German, writing on a thesis about the effects of online chats as tool for relationship marketing. I am really interested in your topic today.

bjoern -- Well, I am working as part time for a marketing consultancy.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Sara and Barbara, please introduce yourselves.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Hello, I'm back from vacation. I am a novice learning about the Internet. This is an interesting topic. I'm interested in hearing what everyone says.

Sara -- I work for a web company in washington dc

tony -- Hello Richard, this is Anthony from Acunet

Todd Moyer -- Hello. I'm a developer at DIGITAL.

David -- hello everyone - David in Boston here - sorry for being late

Tyrone Lobo -- Hi, I'm with AltaVista, in Corporate Sales. Based in Toronto. Sorry for the late intro. Had a problem with the UI. I've figured it out.

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi Richard: Sorry I am late. I'll try to catch up. It sounds a very interesting topic.

steved -- hello, I am a product director at a health information company centered around web/internet technology.

Defining "The Social Web"

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Richard - I'm a little unclear about "social Web". Can you expand on what you are refering to ?

Ed Jaros -- Richard - I like the Title "The Social Web". It's Catchy

Richard Seltzer -- Ed -- yes, the phrase "social web" really got me going. I had been bouncing around a lot of related ideas for quite some time. But it wasn't until that phrase occurred to me that the pieces started coming together. The word "community" kept throwing me off track, partly because the word is so charged with meaning from the "real" world. Also, partly because so much had been written about pre-Web communities like the Well and BBSs that sounded so great, but didn't quite ring true on the Web. And so many promising-sounding businesses on the Web and set out with the business goal of becoming communities were simply not taking off. I needed a way to explain the phenomenon, the underlying capability and possibilities, without getting too hung up about the "community" as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- By the term, social web, I think of people popping in and out when they have a need, a place to meet people, find out information, and then go home. When I think of the term community, there seems to be more of an obligation to connect and do something, for one's own benefit and for others. Is this part of what you're getting at Richard?

bjoern -- I guess we have to distinguish between more familiar intention and the business intention of a 'social web'

bjoern -- Well, 'familiar' wasn't the right word. I meant entertaining intention like the WELL

steved -- I am interested in really understanding the difference between a social web and a web community. The problem I see with a social web as Barbara has defined it, '...people popping in and out when they have a need, a place to meet people, find out information, and then go home." is that there are so many places on the web we often end up with empty chat areas. In this case asynchronous discussions (discussion groups) is preferable over chats (real-time communication). How does this fit into the definitions of Social Web and Communities?

Tyrone Lobo -- Picking up on Barbara's point: perhaps Community implies known participants and Social Web is more ad-hoc with less notion of belonging per se. I'm still not convinced there is a difference though.

Todd Moyer -- One difference I've seen with the Web is that it supports more variety of interests. If I liked following baseball, I could watch TV, listen to the radio, read newpapers, etc. (assuming I'm in the US). If I like curling or Esperanto, I can get a lot more out of the Web than the other sources. In short, the Web makes it easier to deviate from the mainstream.

Natalia Nemzer -- I think, that the real community can consist only of the people which want to make something significant for other. An exellent example of community were the people which created AltaVista or helped them. Simply they were beside each other and did not require in Internet.

Richard Seltzer -- Tyrone -- I believe that there is a continuum -- a wide range of social activities and experiences that are possible thanks to the structure of the Web. I believe that the Holy Grail, the great and difficult objective is to create "true community." I believe that that goal is rarely reached, but that other levels of loyalty and relationship are also important and valuable. Hence I'm saying 1) don't presume that community is easy to achieve and build a business plan that presumes you can do it 2) make full use of the wide range of capabilities today that make it possible to help connect people of common interest, try to make your site a nexus on the Social Web and glean whatever benefit you can from that.

The Social Web, communities and loyalty -- how difficult is it?

Chris -- Richard, What are your views about depth of "loyalty" that can be realized by "communities"? Certainly the Well is an example of deep loyalty. Is that a rarity? What is the "catch"?

Richard Seltzer -- Chris -- Yes, the Well inspired deep loyalty. Keep in mind that they got started long before there was a Web. Their members often had one and only one on-line choice. This was their home and their only home. Today, people on the Web have an enormous number of competing choices -- many dealing with the same kind of subject matter, and all trying to be "the" community for that particular niche. It's a very different world. While the Web site owners talk about their "members" and their "community," often to the users it's a much looser relationship. It feels like loyalty on the Web is of the same order of magnitude as loyalty to the gas station you patronize frequently. That's very different from the loyalty of a church congregation or of members of the Elks or even of members of the old-time Well.

Todd Moyer -- Can someone enlighten me (and probably others) as to what The Well is/was?

David -- I agree with Richard - the gas station analogy is a good one because there are a bazillion (sp?) chat sites or special interest sites which virtually all offer nearly the same thing -- how does one differentiate ? I personally buy gas when I need it - and it is cheap and from any station -- I am not too brand conscious -- a community simply has to get big and diverse - more like a good library -- in order to attract my personal usage.... ie. this chat is great because we have 10 people who always show up -- vs. a chat with one or two people on random Web marketing problems.... this is a small community in a special way -- we only get this information here -- not really anywhere else ( I speak for myself in that comment - maybe others have other places to go)

Ed Jaros -- The closest gas station with some emphasis on price usually gets my business while the net offers no boundries.

David -- good point Ed -- no boundaries -- this is a real challenge because the boundaries of a gas station that make it successful is that there is a steep barrier to entry- ie. there is only one AMOCO on Lake shore drive in chicago and it is huge -- and does a whopping big business because of its pricey real estate -- so now I come up with a great idea and build a community on the web -- what is to stop Richard from starting the exact same thing on his website and stealing the thunder there ? It kind of turns into a game where we each cup our hands together and see how long we can all hold the water before it slowly leaks onto the floor (ie. water are the customers - community members)

David -- Richard -- very true-- seems the biggest community built so far is the Well -- which I have never seen - actually - I take that back - it is definitely AOL with its many chat rooms - and content offerings - even if most of the people there are on for different reasons - it seems that they stay there for a myriad of reasons regardless of why they went there in the first place (most come and stay for email addresses I am guessing) -- keeping the "community" together and growing from a Nexus is alot of luck, timing, other prevailing opportunities that exist are less well known (ie. short of marketing money) - or less quality (there are tons of ISP's and other commercial on line services - but AOL continues to grow) -- the nurturing of a successful community takes a tremendous amount of variables crossing and intersecting at fortuitous points in time to have it be successful -- not having yet read my copy of Net Gain I can't say what they portray -- but having a clue from what you have stated earlier -- it is not all that simple -- one thing is for sure-- building it today is nearly free with all the available free web page sites -and chat tools - and other give-aways - the barrier to entry is not a major factor for a simple special interest web-site or commmunity (they could be started from the USENET for free as many are.

Formula for success?

Chris -- OK, the world is different today. How can the challenge be met in the new environment? The diversity and availability of different sites as well as the degree of connectivity are the advantages of what we see today. It opens up and adds value to the channels companies use to deliver their products.

David -- It would seem that the real value that communities bring to the individual is that fulfill some need that they dont find necessarily somewhere else in their lives - or that the web makes it easier, cheaper, or better in some way to fulfill than what they currently find ??? does that make sense ?

tony -- I think this is such a great issue to discuss. Is there a formula for success that anyone can share concerning creating a SOCIAL web?

bjoern -- Well, I read the book of Hagel/Armstrong. It's just sounds so easy to buid up a community

tony -- What are the main points on the book NET GAIN. Please share your experience. Thank you

bjoern -- Well, my comment was more or less sarcastic. because hagel/armstorng don't really go into depth. they don't explain the technical needs nor the relationship demands.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Todd, David, and Tony. Glad we're getting such a good turnout (and on the Thursday before Labor Day). Yes, Bjoern, the Hagel/Armstrong book Net Gain makes it sound very easy to build a community. I love some of their theoretical quotes -- they can be quite handy in convincing management to do Web-based things that really should be done. Unfortunately, the authors of that book seem to have no real hands-on experience with the Web. They write from a theoretical level and provide all kinds of numbers and tables and graphs as if they were completely confident about the profit potential of on-line communities over a ten year period. But those numbers don't seem to have any basis in reality. It is actually far more difficult to grow (not build -- it's more organic) a community that inspires the kind of fierce loyalty and sharing that is essential as a basis for the kind of business they are talking about. (It's also far less expensive than they speculate -- if you should be hard-working and fortunate).

tony -- That makes perfect sense. As a web developer i am looking for a perspective that would allow me to develope websites akin to how real estate developes operate. The question i keep asking myself is how can i be more effective in building social communities on the web. Any comments?

Richard Seltzer -- Tony -- there is no simple formula. What I find is that there are a number of interesting structural features of the Web that through their interaction open a whole range of possibilities -- making it so Web sites, and even seemingly static Web pages -- can be very "social", bringing people together. My notion is that the original Web connected documents-to-documents, and today's Web is much better at connecting people-to-people. Yes, this includes through chat and forums, but two essential elements that interact in unexpected and interesting ways are 1) the proliferation of personal Web pages, and 2) the existence of full-text search engines like AltaVista. Not only do we chat here, but I post the transcripts and have them indexed at AltaVista, and hence get lots of followup email from all over, the most relevant of which I then post with the transcripts and then have indexed, generating more dialogue. That kind of thing.

bjoern -- In Germany, the companies haven't yet any strategy in using the chat. Therfore they don't really build up any community that brings any profit to the company. Chats, forum and other interactive features are used more or less as a state-of-the-art feature.

Richard Seltzer -- continuing the same thread -- There are a wide variety of ways that you can use your Web pages and your Web and email activities to make it easier for people of common interest to connect to one another and to encourage them to contribute relevant and valuable content for your Web site. These activities build loyalty and build relationships that are important for business, but they need not necessarily lead to the creation of a "community" to be valuable. Many people look at these chat sessions and the transcripts and talk as if this were a "community." It is not. I'd think of it more as a "nexus" -- a place/event where many social Web threads cross. But, realistically, while there are loyal participants, this is not a full-fledged community nor is it likely to become one. Yes, we share and help one another, but there are gradients -- it isn't all or nothing. This is a nexus, which might possibly over time and with lots of effort and with some considerable luck -- grow to something close to a community.

bjoern -- Richard: My question is always can we transform the relationship/commitment towards a web site on relationship/commitment towards a company/product???

Richard Seltzer -- Another take on the same theme -- Books like Net Gain create the impression that on-line communities can be constructed -- choose niche, spend enough money, and bingo you have a community (just like building a house). I think it's more like gardening than construction. Yes, you can prepare the ground and plant the seeds and nurture those sprouts that appear. Yes, it takes lots of work. But at the same time, it is not in your control. These are not easy plants to grow. You need to hope that circumstances will favor your efforts. On the other hand, it is not all-or-nothing. Many of the activities that you engage in with the hope of growing a community, are very much the right thing to do. And intermediate nexus-like states can have business benefits. Does this line of reasoning ring true to you?

Richard Seltzer -- Bjoern -- if the company/product/service is closely related to the interests of the audience, yes your social Web activities will help build their relationship/commitment toward you. The point is that you don't necessarily have to have a full-fledged community to accrue benefits of that kind. And that's a good thing, because full-fledged communities are very, very rare.

steved -- To richard's point, what are the elements that will promote organic growth of a community? It is such a complex equation with customer demographics, personalities, topics of interest, etc. Is there any way to navigate through all of it to get to a starting point?

bjoern -- richard - but i guess your 'full-fledged' coummunites never can be created nor initialized by a company...

Chris -- Richard is right. It's a "system" that the architect is trying to start in motion. There is no "build it and they will come" rule. The system is a virtual social one. Participation also occurs in degrees. Some will contribute significant input, some will just pass by. The trick is finding the catalyst that puts the community dynamics in motion. Hopefully, it takes on a "life" of its own similar the simulations and expirements of the Sante Fe Institute on artificial life.

bjoern -- Well, there is no system, though you have suppositions: as a closed network, a moderator who keeps the thing going...

Todd Moyer -- I like Richard's garden/plant analogy, but would add that it is in the gardener's control. The gardener will succeed if they know what the plants want/need.
I'm confused by Bjoern's comments. I don't see a difference between a product on the internet and one in the physical world except we haven't figured out the principles yet. It reminds me of the early days of movies when people didn't know what to do with them. "Fred Ott's Sneeze", a horse running, newsreals, etc. It wasn't til much later that it settled into narative, 90 minute entertainment.

Chris -- Keep in mind that in the real world, sociology describes a system. The system is far too complex to be quantitatively described from basic principles. But their theories do have predictable results...

Tyrone Lobo -- Richard I agree. Communities are inevitable: we're social beings after all. I think we need to spend less time trying to control them and more time making useful content for them.

David -- Good points -- I think laying plans to build a community ( and that i s a big and almost overwhelming word) requires someone who is tirelessly dedicated to amassing content, meeting places, promotion of the existence of the group (marketing), lots of good will on those who initially come to help create a presence ( in content or hang out and chat ) to help create the sense of being in an environment that others would want to come to -- ie. you are building a virtual Spa and Country Club for people to come and relax, rejuvinate, get valuable information, make contacts, do business, get spiritual help, whatever...... this is not easy and takes a huge commitment from dedicated organizers. I think those who think they can buy their way into a community by throwing money at it will find themselves in the same position as a Disney, Time Warner, Hotwired, etc. who spend alot of money producing sites that no one seems to really care about very much ( hope I did not step on any ones toes or hurt feelings there !)

steved -- It seems to me that the only way to put the odds in favor of success in terms of organizing a community is to focus on that one goal: building a community. This way your effort are all going towards paying attention to your community, facilitating growth, etc. Just like a gardener. Unfortunately that seems very difficult in today's internet companies as communities tend to be only ONE of the many projects (sometimes in a given day) companies are trying to execute.

bjoern -- Todd - I do not distinguish between relationship towards products on the net and in the really worlld, but between relationship towards websites (!) and products.

Richard Seltzer -- Todd -- Regarding the gardening analogy, keep in mind that the true community is an exotic plant. Some plants are easier to cultivate and more predictable than others. I'd contend that true community is a far cry from growing tomatoes. It's a much more difficult, and not altogether predictable phenomenon. It's interesting to note that in The Virtual Community, Howard Rheingold (discussing pre-Web communities like the Well, the book as published in 1993) repeatedly emphasizes the element of luck -- the right combination of people and topics and needs happening to come together at the same place. I'd say it's even more difficult today.

Tyrone Lobo -- Richard - on communities as exotic plants - not sure I agree. They are all communities, some more refined perhaps than others, but all are valid. (Besides I'd hate to live exclusively on nasturtiums, I love tomatoes in the summer ;-)

Richard Seltzer -- Tyrone -- I agree that this isn't a simple matter. And I need to find better ways to express the differences and similarities. I hope that next week I'll be able to get into some of the structural stuff -- things you can do for low or no cost to make a site more social.

Richard Seltzer -- Steved -- I agree that you need to focus to make this stuff happen. But I think that the word "community" can get in the way, in part because of the expectations that it sets. How long will it take you to build a community? What will it cost? What is the ROI? On the other hand, there are many interrelated activities that you can initiate for the benefit of your audience and to grow your audience that actually create the conditions necessary for growth of a community. If you focus on those intermediary steps and establish intermediary goals, you are probably more likely to keep management happy as well as your audience. The Web has been around for such a short time and there is so little experience over the course of a couple years that it is easy to presume that everything on the Internet happens at "Internet speed." This social Web and community stuff takes time. Try to set the right expectations.

steved -- Richard -- Bringing managements expectations in line with what is acheivable is definitely ONE of the challenges "community" or "social web area" organizers face. You're right though on focusing on the intermediate goals -- I'd love to hear your thoughts on what those should be. Steve Dale

David -- Richard I agree -- the noise factor in this whole area is a negative factor in acheiving success in building a community - one has to establish a very strong "brand" presence that will endure much noise - competition - pricing pressure - other more featured sites that come along - etc. It is very hard to overcome these obstacles even ALREADY having a loyal community. People have only so much time to spend on-line - and they have only so much desire to spend money -- so if there is something FREE that is of equivalent value -- people will migrate to that. ie. HOTMAIL has SEVERAL million accounts already signed up -- how does that affect a Qualcomm Eudora or other Email software package Vendor.... what was a sale -- is now a give away --- etc.

Social applications available through browsers

Richard Seltzer -- All -- by the way, keep in mind the degree to which over the last few years, a wide variety of Internet applications have become available through your Web browsers. At first all we could do with the browser was access static text and graphics pages. Now, from that same browser, I can do email, participate in newsgroups, search everywhere for everything, etc. As interactive social type applications have become embedded in the browser, the social aspects of the Web have been expanded -- though few if any companies have really taken advantage of that. They've been too engrossed with Java and fancy dancing graphics to notice this transformation in how people actually use the Web.

Asian Indian community in Massachusetts -- a Social Web example

tony -- Acunet is trying to build a ethnic community site around the Asian Indian community of Mass at It seems to be working because we get anywhere from 600-1000 hits/day. Most people enjoy listing to real audio on the site. Just my $0.02

Richard Seltzer -- Tony -- Thanks for the pointer. I'll have to take a look at that community.

Fort Worth Star Telegram -- a Social Web example

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- I'd like to point out a company who has had great sucess
with a "Social Community" on the WEB. It is a subsidiary of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. They have made the web an extension of their Community News and the content comes from people in the communities. Take a look at -

What is the end goal?

Todd Moyer -- I'm losing site of the objective people are after with the terms "community" and "social web". What's the end goal? To sell a product or service? To have online clubs? What's the difference between a companies "community" and their customers?

Richard Seltzer -- Todd -- good question. for some people (with personal Web pages) the goal may simply be personal and social. for other people running businesses, it may be to build relationships with an audience of potential customers.
Need to clarify. A business may think of its customers as "members of a Web community", but the customers themselves would not think that -- they would express the relationship as much looser than that.


Richard Seltzer -- All -- I love this feedback. I think we're heading in the right direction. (Wish I could read faster). I'm tempted to post some excerpts from my book with the transcript of this session -- to give you something more to react to -- and continue the discussion next week. Obviously, what I'm doing here is exactly what I advocate in the book ... Ed Jaros -- I have to free up the fax line I am using. Look forward to reading the transcripts. Good day all.

Richard Seltzer -- All, time is disappearing. Please before you sign off, post your email address and URL, so we can keep in touch. (Don't count on the software to have saved it.)

bjoern -- -my reasearch about online chats as tool for relationship marketing-

Chris --

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Bob Zwick, Cottage Micro Services,

Natalia Nemzer -- Thanks and good luck to all

Tyrone Lobo -- It's been interesting. Bye all.

David -- ( that is TGIF "ONE" )

Todd Moyer --

Richard Seltzer -- Thanks to all. Hope to "see" you again next week.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- as usual, I'll post the transcript of this session in the next day of two (edited to reconstruct threads of discussion). Check I'll also add to the transcript related email sent to me at

Richard Seltzer -- I'd like to continue this topic next week. I hope that you'll be able to join us then -- same time, same station. And please email me the thoughts you didn't have time to post here.


More words about "The Social Web"

From: Richard Seltzer

I believe that many companies on the Web are spending far more than they need to and are accomplishing far less than they could. I see escalating operating costs for Web sites, many emmpty chat and discusison areas, and community-based businesses that simply don't take off. At the same time, I see that the Web has evolved in new directions that combinations of resources and capabilities have made it a social environment, rather than just a library of documents.

Over the last four years, I've talked and written a lot about "community," definding it as a loyal audience, for a Web site, and recommending that businesses focus first on building their community and then on developing the services that audience would be willing to pay for. Now the Internet has grown and evolved tot he point where an audience isn't necessarily a community. There are many competing places to discuss the very same kind of content. It is now very difficult to inspire the ind of fierce loyalty and sense of belong that members of the Well felt and to grow a community with the kind of long-term business potential described in Net Gain (by John Hagel and Arthur Armstrong). Yes, you feel some loyalty to sites that you return to frequently, but it's the kind of loyalty you ay feel toward a gas station you patronize, not hte loyalty of a church congredation or an Elks Club.

The term "Social Web" is not synonymous for "virtual community." Rather it refers to structural elements of today's Web -- such as personal Web pages, full-text search engines, and Web-based forums and chat -- which you can use to help people connect to people. Fortunately, the opportunities opened by the Social Web are not all-or nothing -- there are many steps you can take to improve your Web site and your relationship with your audience, even if these steps do not lead to the growth of a full-fledged community.

Reactions from Russia

From: Termostal <> Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 13:24:41 +0400

I am very excited with the problems you has touched in your future book, as each person thinking about world and about future. I think that Internet is a large mirror reflecting our world. May be, this mirror flatters a little ("I see myself as in a mirror, but, yes, this mirror flatters me" - our great Pushkin). One searches in this mirror only his own reflection (I was amused very much by your excellent remark about your friends which have found you in Internet searching of themselves). For the second Internet is as this famous "drop of water reflecting the hole world". The third uses Internet to start up reflections of a sunbeam to attract people to his goods. The fourth plays with Internet as with a toy. But in future, I am sure, Internet will play the role of not only a mirror but also the role of a big lens focusing attention on separate subjects, phenomena, problems and also the role of a strong filter taking most valuable and modern knowledge onto common reserves.

Already now Alta Vista is an excellent focusing lens. But the problem is not only to focus attention of one person or group on any subject. Internet should become a tool helping to joint efforts of any community to be advanced in understanding of this subject and to save this new knowledge for other people (may be, as a gift). By the way, you do it now! I think that the following thought has come not only to my head: Internet could become a material implementation of noo-sphere (sphere of common intellect) Vernadskij wrote about. But for this purpose it is necessary to invent into Internet a sort of filters cutting off the random information that is just a noise named "information" only formally. Of course, these filters should not cut any contents of Internet in direct sense!

As you wrote, it is wonderful that through Internet everybody can have in possession the best books of mankind if one has computer on his desktop.

These best books have passed through the filter - they have been selected by many generations of people, by eliminating of huge quantity of printed books, and also through the people executing such projects as Gutenberg. I suppose, very soon all researchers will place their new results into Internet. And then it will be actual to create a storehouse for the most valuable knowledge on different branches. Teams of high qualified experts within any community will be created to execute this role of a filter (may be, this process is in progress even now). The capabilities you write about in your book should become a very useful tool helping in creating and operating for such groups.

Now I think about it with hope. Our group of researchers, young and qualified specialists engaged in creation of a new process engineering and equipment for heat treatment over many years, had received practically valuable results. I was on the top of this activity making a computer program absorbed the transactions of many people. It is not our fault that in our country these results are not necessary now. I feel the huge responsibility and I do not want these efforts to be transformed into dust, into nothing. I think that Internet could help us. The process of research, of comprehending should not be interrupted.

Natalia Nemzer

Business on the Internet -- in Belgium

From: Daniel Buvens <> Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 12:26:49 +0200

Business on the Web works! Recently I purchased a cellular phone over theInternet, and sold several old PC components. I received 5 or 6 interesting offers within 24 hours for the PC parts, which I think is pretty good for a (very) small scale business transaction.

Daniel Buvens (student MIS/MIT)

Reply from Richard Seltzer

Congratulations. I used to do the same kind of thing over Digital Equipment's internal network, using notes files (conferences). It seems that the main barrier is one of trust. Within a corporate environment, that was built in -- we all worked for the same company and it was easy to track someone down if there was a problem later. Hence I bought 3 cars that way over the course of 11 years. It's more difficult to arrive at that level of trust on the totally open and massive Internet, but yes, it can be done.

Best wishes.

Richard Seltzer

More on "Focasting"

From: "James K. Ho" <> Date: Mon, 18 Aug 1997 14:22:18 +0000

We now have more details on what we discussed in one of your chat sessions. The report may be of interests to your members. Please feel free to list, link, etc.

Best regards,

Jim Ho

PRESS RELEASE 8/14/97 Chicago, IL.

Focasting (Focused Broadcasting) is a balanced push-pull business model for matching classified and want ads over the World Wide Web.

A market research study conducted in New Zealand by Prof. James K. Ho of the University of Illinois at Chicago found significant consensus among Internet users for Focasting to be a compelling use of the Web. The survey of user attitudes also suggested strategies for using this approach to foster electronic commerce.

A full report on "A Pilot Study of Internet User Attitudes toward Focused Broadcasting on the World Wide Web," to be released on September 1, is available free on the Web at .

InteractPro -- new chat product

From: P V Kannan <> Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 16:47:19 -0400

I enjoyed your observations on Business Chat.

You may want to take a look at the product, InteractPro from our company, Business Evolution Inc. at

Most of the items in your wish-list is built into the product.



Value-Added Chat

From: "B. Campbell" <> Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 14:36:05 -0400

According to Jupiter's upcoming Chat Report, compelling chat rooms drive overall usage of a site, rising the tide for all revenue streams. In an effort to lure consumers and increase ad revenue, Web site publishers are packaging chat with the following enticements:

The Chat Report explores usage patterns, demographics, revenue strategies and the evolving technologies that will affect the market for real-time chat. The report also looks at the may companies jockeying for position to lure consumer eyeballs and dollars to compelling chat related Web sites.

Free FAX over the Internet

From: Ed Jaros <> Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 20:43:11 -0500

I can't explain how this all works from a financing end but I thought you'd like to Check out this site and try it. I sent a fax via the net to some of my friends in Chicago and They got it no problem on their machine via my e-mail. And it is Free... somehow.

Ed Jaros, Your Internet Strategist

Reactions to "Social Web" name

From: Sudha Jamthe <> Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 17:26:16 -0400

Thanks for sending me the two initial intro and preface parts of your book.

The new name social web is new from the cliche of online communities and good. It gives the meaning of - meeting, networking, relating and connecting on the web. Its good also because online communities givea commercial sound and have not been a commercial success so far.



WebTV lives

From: Conners <> Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 20:17:10 -0500

I am a webtv distributor and will try to answer some of your questions.

First let me assure you that as soon as you get an oppurtunity go look at a webtv in person. The keyboard is switchable using the remote. You can have it alphabetized for teaching kids the alphabet or regular when attaching a standard keyboard it works like any ibm clone. The picture is amazing...

You mentioned who would want to try and read text at 12 feet say, well with a webtv its easy. If you are using a 25" screen it is real easy to read..

Send me a email with any other questions and i will be glad to reply.

It's hard to believe that for $300.00 a person can get a unit to reach internet , e-mail up to six separate address and web .. Monthly fee $19.95

Joe conner

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

To connect to the chat room, go to

The full text of Richard Seltzer's books The Social Web, Take Charge of Your Web Site, Shop Online the Lazy Way, and The Way of the Web, plus more than a hundred related articles are available on CD ROM My Internet: a Personal View of Internet Business Opportunities.

Web Business Boot Camp: Hands-on Internet lessons for manager, entrepreneurs, and professionals by Richard Seltzer (Wiley, 2002). No-nonsense guide targets activities that anyone can perform to achieve online business
success. Reviews.

a library for the price of a book.

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