where "word of keystroke" begins

November 6, 1997 -- The Social Web: varieties of "community" experience and the Placeware on-line auditorium

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, November 6, 1997. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM Eastern Time (GMT -5) 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 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 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 -- Hi, Blair, Judy and Sean. We'll be getting started in about eight minutes.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, M. Paul, and Heinrich. All -- Please introduce yourselves as you connect, and let us know your interests. That will help us get the discussion going quickly.

Heinrich Schwarz -- Hi, I am Heinrich Schwarz, I am working on my PhD at MIT in the program in science, technology, society.

Richard Seltzer -- Heinrich -- What's your thesis topic? (It feels like the Internet is a natural place where science, technology, and society come together).

Heinrich Schwarz -- Richard - that's right. I am just starting, but I want to write about collaborative virtual environments. Systems like the one at Chiat-Day which actually never was used regularly.

Richard Seltzer -- Today, we want to continue our discussion about the "social web" (social effects of today's Web environment and their implications for business), and we also want to talk about this Tuesday's on-line speech at Placeware. I did my talk about the Social Web, using the Placeware auditorium -- with audio, text, slides, etc. We want to hear from people who experienced that to get a sense of what worked and what didn't and what the business potential of such an application is.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Noland. Please introduce yourself and let us know your interests. All -- Did any of you connect to the Placeware speech on Tuesday?

Heinrich Schwarz -- Sorry, I didn't. I know about PlaceWare but haven't been connected myself.

Noland -- Hello All, I am a new Webmaster for Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas

Richard Seltzer -- Noland -- by any chance did you catch the Social Web speech I did for Lockheed at Oak Ridge in September?

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome JBF and Tracy. Tracy, thanks very much for all the informative followup messages.

Blair Anderson -- Tracy.. thank you for the URL's in the last transcript..

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Hello - All I'm Bob, an independant developer/service provider in Texas.

JBF11235 -- JBF is having many problems with this Chat page. So much so, I think it best if I take my leave. Too much else to do.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome SPW and Zig, we're just getting started. WE want to focus on social effects on the Web and their business implications and also want to do a post mortem on last Tuesday's Placeware speech. Did any of you connect to the Placeware speech or have problems connecting?

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

Don Shegog -- My name is Don Shegog. I am an analyst at NationsBank + I have a small web based business that I do for fun

hduggan -- Just catching up. I'm interested in how people work together on the web.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome John Watkins and Phil Grove, please introduce yourselves.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer Hi! I'm Barbara Hartley Seltzer. I have been away from this a long time. The lingo seems new. I work for an executive outplacement firm and am interested in all the new technology and how it can help businesses and people.

Phil Grove -- Good afternoon, I work for DIGITAL and am looking at changing the way our large corporation uses the web to create realtionships with customers and partners. Hello.

John Watkins -- John Watkins. I'm director of The Simple Society, a think-tank interested in involving the grass-roots in our deliberations.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Hello John W. - What is the focus of your think tank ? Are you using the net to collaborate ?

John Watkins -- Bob, The Simple Society believes that most of the current solutions to major public problems are more complicated than they need to be and we're making an effort to describe a paradigm for dramatic, yet effective, simplification. The net is an important part of the effort to define and develop models and to reach the decision-makers who can bring about the requisite changes.

ilene -- hello

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Ilene, please introduce yourself and let us know your interests.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Patti and Tom Dadakis. Please introduce yourselves. We've been talking about the on-line meeting/auditorium application that Place is demoing at and also about Web Rings, another interesting "social web" capability.

ilene -- hmmm.... not having any success posting here... i'm ilene hoffman mac / internet consultant and chat host. :) silent member of web-net 

Web Rings

Richard Seltzer -- All -- one of the many interesting followup messages from Tracy Marks (now with the transcript at dealt with "Web Rings".
Are any of you familiar with that approach/business model?

Richard Seltzer -- Tracy, regarding, Web Rings, do you use that yourself for navigation? Or do you just sign up in hopes of driving some extra traffic to your sites? And has it made a noticeable difference in your traffic?

Richard Seltzer -- By the way, Tracy, could you please provide a quick definition of Web Rings for those who haven't seen such sites and haven't taken a recent look at last week's transcript?

TracyM -- Hi Richard and all. I'm struggling with my interface at the moment - the NEW MESSAGES button won't load...In regard to Web Rings and the similar Internet rail, so far I don't think they draw a lot of traffic...but the potential is there, particularly for Net newbies....I find it more useful with Web Rings to explore different sites through the index page of all sites in a particular web ring, rather than surf from site to site....

Richard Seltzer -- All -- re: Web Rings. Looks like a categorized directory with brief descriptions of sites, with the info submitted by the site owner. They have lots of sites listed. There is no charge for listing. And because the categories tend to be narrow and user-oriented, it provides you with an alternative to the Yahoo directory and search engines for finding particular kinds of information and experiences (since it includes chat/events as well).

TracyM -- About web rings - there are at least 20,000 of them. A group of sites organized by theme, such as antiques or desktop processing or ice skating or apparel. Each site has a web ring icon which connects it to the index page that lists all sites in a ring...and to the previous and next site in that particular ring. So for example, if one wanted to check out a web ring on gourmet food, one would either surf from gourmet food site to food site, or use the index page somewhat like a directory to visit the ones that are most appealing.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Tracy, can you tell us the financial benefit that a WebRing sponsor might realize ?

TracyM -- All I know about web rings and financial benefit is that is under new management, and unveiling a new setup in January, hopefully appealing to businesses which are open to being in business web rings. Once web rings are more well-known (there are at least 300,000 sites in them now), I think there's a real potential for increasing traffic...and therefore selling products or services if that's what one is trying to do. But one has to stand up well to one's own competition...since the competition is likely to be in the same web ring.

Heinrich Schwarz -- åll - who pays for the service then?

Richard Seltzer -- Heinrich -- I believe that the business model for the people running the Web Ring site is based on advertising. They are trying to generate lots of traffic so they can then do the usual advertising thing. Sites that list themselves in the Web Ring are required to put up a link to Web Ring. That's hundreds of thousands of links to this

site. Plus, those people for whom this style of surfing feels natural will probably come back many times. (It's not my style. But I can imagine people wanting to do it this way.)

TracyM -- Currently most webrings are personal pages...but they're expanding now to businesses. I think the subject directory is at

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- I have a client who is a member of a Texas Web-Ring. If Web-rings develop into specialized areas I can seen a definite plus to the "community" nature of the model.

Richard Seltzer -- Yes, Bob, I could imagine either starting something similar to the Web Ring to support a particular community of interest, or somehow piggypacking on what Web Ring and Net Train are doing. (Web Ring gives you the ability to start a new Ring, at no cost.)

TracyM -- By the way, the Internet rail is also a kind of webring. I'm on both the Press train and Electric train of the Internet rail, and made different starting pages to my site for people accessing it via a train...Each train is on a different theme. Don't remember the rail address, but you can see it at work at one of my rail starting pages... You just click on the railroad tracks to go to the next site on the rail...getting to the index page for a rail however is a little more difficult....

ilene -- how do you view web-rings as a basis for social interaction, btw?

TracyM -- Ilene - From my limited experience so far with web rings, I'd imagine that sites on a web ring could create some kind of chat area or message board in common. There is an index page for each one so that you can see a list of sites on a web ring, and go to whatever one you wish, rather than just surf through them one by one....The webring directory also lists the most popular rings, those that get the most visitors. It could be interesting to check those out and see which subjects are generating traffic. 


Richard Seltzer -- Is there interest in discussing the Placeware experience? I believe it went extremely well. At least from my perspective it did. This was an experiment with "talkies" -- chat/speech capability with audio, not just text. It requires a Pentium -- a fast one -- to do the audio compression/decompression, so perhaps the audience today is limited. But long-range, this looks very interesting. Comments welcome...

hduggan -- I tried to join the Placeware discussion, but ran into serious crashes.

TracyM -- Richard, could you explain more what Placeware is for those of us who don't know....

Don Shegog -- I think that placeware definitely has a place in business, but talking business into the necessary expenditures to make it possible won't be easy.

Richard Seltzer -- With Placeware, you can have up to seven people on stage and up to 500 in the audience (auditorium). Most of the action takes place in audio. BUt you also can display PowerPoint slides, and do white board things, and also do text chat. People in the audience can talk to others in the same row (audio or text) and can submit questions to the speaker or can "raise their hands" to be recognized and speak to everyone.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- In what capacity would Placeware be used?

Phil Grove -- Do you think that placeware will replace or supplement chat?

Blair Anderson -- I tried placeware, ping times eat at performance esp. inpeak traffic times
locally.. 800ms is untenable.

TracyM -- I'd imagine that everyone using Placeware would need a fast computer...and that the time hasn't come yet for it to be accessible to all. Real audio and sound choke on 486s....

Richard Seltzer -- From the speaker's perspective, the Placeware auditorium was like radio. I'm speaking, but can't see my audience. This is mediated somewhat by the ability of members of the audience to change the color of the little button that represents each of them in the diagram of the floor layout. I had them change to green if everything was fine, yellow if they were confused, and red if they were having trouble. Most stayed green, so I had to presume that things were going pretty well. It's very difficult to field questions in the middle of such a speech -- like on radio you don't want any down time, you want to keep talking. There's some good capabilities for fielding questions at the end, but we (myself and volunteers for Web-net) were a bit inexperienced wtih that.

Richard Seltzer -- I'm surprised. Did any of you connect on Tuesday? We had a pretty good audience and I thought that many intended to come and talk about the experience from here. One of the limitations of Placeware's approach is that there is a lot of discussion that happens in the rows of the audience that the folks on the stage never see or hear and that (at this point) isn't captured for later viewing. I suspect they'll fix that over time. But because of that, it would be very valuable to get some direct feedback.

Heinrich Schwarz -- Richard, but isn't the ability for private chat among the audience what goes on in traditional presentations as well, the kind of bonding experience with your neighbor?

TracyM -- Richard - Don't you think that sound-based conferencing isn't feasible yet....that we're jumping the gun in trying to do it unless we have a guaranteed audience that has the right technology....?

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- As a presenter, I would definitely want a complete transcript of a Placeware presentation. Without that how could you evaluate, improve, and prepare presentations.

phil grove -- Bob - Presenters never hear the information in the aisles anyways. Doesn't that lead to information excess?

Richard Seltzer -- Blair -- The audio at Placeware is actually very good. (At least that was my experience.) They have their own audio plug-in. I find it difficult to carry on real conversations with Internet Phone -- fine for one of those family get togethers where there's a crowd gathered at each PC and the main message is "I'm here. Isn't the great. And isn't it great to be able to get in touch this way." But the audio quality at Placeware was quite acceptable. (Keep in mind that I just upgraded [at considerable pain to my pocketbook] to a Pentium 233.)

Tom Dadakis-- Richard, could Placeware be used in a classroom or news conference setting or is it a one to many distribution with some feedback?

Richard Seltzer -- Tom Dadakis --- I believe that Placeware would be excellent for a press conference. There the company making the announcement can do its prepared pitch (complete with slides), and then can open the floor for questions from around the world. That would be a natural (if you could be sure that your target audience was appropriately equipped.) One other limitation to keep in mind -- it's a limitation today for all streaming audio and video -- it won't go through a firewall (unless you are using a tunnel).

TracyM -- Haven't been there in a year, but in the help area on AOL, you sit in an auditorium and wait for the tech representative to call your name. Meanwhile you can chat with four people, I believe...the one on your left, right, front and back...text-based....wonder what kind of software is used for this....It's quite appealing.

Richard Seltzer -- Tracy and Bob -- There are definite drawbacks to audio chat/speeches over the Internet. Mainly the fact that it becomes extremely difficult to create/edit a transcript. With text chat like this, everyone's words are captured. With Placeware's, only what is typed can be captured, but most of what is happening is audio. I think that what that means is that means is that text and audio fill two different niches. I see text chat (like this) as great for peers to try to share information and seek out the truth through active discussion. The audio type meeting (at least Placeware's style) is better suited for formal presentations. A "speaker" has a prepared speech in PowerPoint slides and delivers it in audio, then people in the audience have a chance to ask questions afterward. But it's more of a speaking from the mountain top, playing expert, rather than the community learning experience we generate here (and which is highly dependent on good edited complete transcripts).

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Information excess is the norm in today's society. Filtering deficiency is the problem. I have no qualm about private off topic discussions, but any discussion related to the topics should be part of the presentation or class. I have many good experiences from participant input in classes I have given.

TracyM -- With audio, Richard, couldn't you just tape-record?? Granted, it's a pain to transcribe afterwards....

Blair Anderson -- "audio quality/Placeware/acceptable. upgraded to a Pentium 233... "
I have been a regular user of IBM's voice chat ver1.20, although there is a limited number of users "asynch" and "clarity" is a huge advantage from an acceptance point of view.. but it doesnt multicast.. it did set the performance standards achievable on
pentium hosts at 100Mhz.. it's even acceptable on a 486/100. Interestingly IBM dropped support for this product..

Richard Seltzer -- Blair -- It appears that Placeware's plug-in requires Pentium. But I'd like to hear that confirmed or denied by folks who tried.

phil grove -- What about a more integrated voice/text approach. Where the participants park voice tagged with text so that there is more to work with. It would allow all to speak "at once" and the listener to pick up the audio snip based on the text tag. 

Software for multi-media live interaction/meetings?

Phil Grove -- Are there other appraches to full multi-media live interactions or meetings? Do these have to be scheduled or can the be done "on demand" like a phone call is? I imagine that there would have to be an organizational or scheduling factor to get many to participate.

Richard Seltzer -- Phil -- There are lots of possibilities -- from CUSeeMe and Vocaltec's Internet Phone and VDOlive and vivo and Microsoft's Netmeeting. The technology is there. But it gets very complicated trying to put the pieces together so everybody attending the proposed meeting is properly equipped. And it also takes some practice to get used to this new medium. And there also are quality problems with the audio, unless everyone has top-of-the-line equipment. It appears that with the latest applications it is the processor speed, not the line speed that is the gating factor for quality.

TracyM -- The fall issue of Internet User reviews conferencing, chat and Virtual Office programs...most of it available at One "virtual office" with chat conferencing that is recommended is Netopia Virtual Office at, that's only $49.95....Not full multimedia though.

Phil -- Yes, Tracy Marks submitted a very informative followup note that is with the last transcript and which has links to several recent articles about what's available today in the way of chat/forum software.

ilene -- There are many chat clients on the web; most of them are woefully inefficient. ichat is horrible, but it gets great reviews.

phil grove -- Ilene - where is the gap with ichat --- inadequate yet great reviews?

ilene -- The administrator commands available are inefficient, not enough customization for leaders of chat, horrible interface, buggy, and can't keep up with fast typists.

TracyM -- The ZDnet article gives highest rating to Rooms 3.0, which is created by ichat, but apparently not the same thing....

Blair Anderson -- inadequate yet great reviews? I found that following threads time
wasting.. and difficult.. breaks any real synergetic dialogue.

ilene -- Rooms is the administration tool for ichat; ichat is the chat clients

TracyM -- Is there a chat client you like better, Ilene? 

Northern Lights (search)

Blair Anderson -- I have recently come to appreciate some of the more interesting dissective
methods of establishing relationships to data, especially when searching... Northern Lights Search Engine does a very intuitive job.. finding matter of direct interest, but not containing the
keyword I used.. users are directed with pleasure.. to (another fine Boston startup!) (promoted only because it is in searching where I find most of my social/commercial networks commence..)

New Zealand and time zones

Richard Seltzer -- Blair -- What time is it now in New Zealand? Your followup message was an eye-opener. I didn't realize that with the northern hemisphere changing to standard time at the same time that the southern switches to daylight savings time there is one hour a day when you in New Zealand are actually two days ahead of the rest of the world. Bizarre.

Blair Anderson -- Richard said... two days ahead of the rest of the world. Bizarre. Yes.. of course, taking that "logicaly" it either "increases" the contact window with the rest of the world, or decreases it, depending on where geographicaly the immediacy of contact is "required".. Hence another "pressure" on the social orange slice (you made sense of it.. that was a good start ) 

Firewalls as barrier to doing what you want to do

TracyM -- Richard - you mentioned firewalls. The Cambridge Center where I teach is installing a firewall this weekend, and I also start teaching a class on Internet chat and conferencing next week. I'm finding myself wondering...what chat and conferencing systems work with a firewall, and which don't....And what about ICQ (which I haven't yet used but intend to use in the course)....?

Richard Seltzer -- Tracy -- This public domain cgi script -- beautifully customized by Web-net -- works fine through firewalls. But most of the commercially available chat software is based on IRC chat and hence has to keep a channel open and hence is normally blocked by firewalls (unless the folks managing the firewall set up a "relay"). It's likely that once that firewall is in place your options for chat will be severely limited, and you definitely won't be able to do any the multimedia versions.

Talk City

ilene -- Richard, can we talk later about setting up a Talk City room for you? you can transcript, chat, talk privately, etc...

Richard Seltzer -- Ilene -- sure, I'd like to talk. My email is

Ilene -- I just sent richard and sudha information on creating a chat room at Talk City -- MUCH better! although its a MS IRC server;

Richard Seltzer -- Ilene -- It is a major, major problem trying to use IRC-based chat -- especially if you want to discuss serious business topics and during business hours, because you lock out everyone behind a firewall. What we have here at Web-net works extremely well, with no need for a client and no firewall problems.

ilene -- but Talk City uses a Java-based chat client also, so no need for a chat client. and it is SO much easier

ilene -- We have not had anyone who complained they couldn't get in either with EZTalk or an irc client.

TracyM -- Java-based programs are also hard on some computers, especially 486s....

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Ilene, I'd also like information about setting up a chat room at Talk City.

ilene -- You can either set up a chat in the Business City Center or go to and create your own room. But we can probably get you a host if you use the #bizcenter room

ilene -- Yes, Tracy, i hate using the java based client on my Mac; its too slow; but most PC users love it.

TracyM -- Did you give your email address, Ilene? I might want to talk to you further...If you don't want to give it publicly, you can email me.... 


Richard Seltzer -- All -- I can't believe how fast the hour is ending. And also can't believe we didn't have the web-net folks and placeware folks here who helped on Tuesday, much less the folks in the audience. At least a half dozen folks who swore they would be here today for some reason weren't able to connect. I hope to catch their feedback in followup messages. As usual, I'll post the transcript in a day or two. Check And please send me email with your followup messages.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- Please before you sign off, post your email and URL addresses so we can keep in touch. (Don't count on the software to have captured that information). Also please send your suggestions for future topics. I feel this one is probably worth one more week (I keep learning about new capabilities, like Web Rings, from you.) Two weeks from today, I'd like to talk about Bazaars, a new offering from Acunet in Marlboro. As I understand it, they are about to "give away" store fronts, like Geocities gives away Web space. I believe it would be free to very small operations with very little in the way of transactions and that higher volume stores would pay a small percentage of transactions. And it would be a single "store space" with a single shopping cart serving many different small stores.

phil grove -- Signing off. Phil Grove
Thank you for the opportunity to join your discussion today.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- It was nice to be back and listen in. I'll try to connect next week. Thanks. I'll have to let you know my permanent e-mail address. Bye.

Blair Anderson -- I'm outa here.. just had a small earthquake to boot.. See you all next
week, Cheers Richard..

Heinrich Schwarz -- All - good bye for today, It was fun. I hope I can be there next week. (

TracyM -- Tracy Marks, Windweaver Web Resources at Also just posted a 10-page tutorial on Internet Relay chat at Just connected it to the irc help web ring last night....

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- FYI, Bob Zwick, Cottage Micro Services, 103 Vinyard Drive, Waxahachie, TX 75167

ilene -- Well, this has been fun... I'll try and come back next week. If you want to get in touch with me in the meantime i'm at: or

Ilene -- Thank you Richard... and all... same here, hopefully next week! 


Placeware speech/experiment (the announcement)

From: Richard Seltzer <> Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 10:19:18 -0500 (EST)

If you have a Pentium and a sound card, please join me for a test drive of Placeware's auditorium-style, voice and text meeting software. I'll be doing a presentation of my "Social Web" speech at their site on Tuesday, November 4 at 7:30 PM. (This has been arranged by Sudha Jamthe at Web-net).

As bandwidth becomes less of an issue, today's text-based chat will eventually be replaced by audio and video versions (just as "talkies" displaced silent movies). Also, as more people get used to using chat-type capabilities for real communication (rather than random nonsense), it becomes ever more important to be able to accommodate and manage large audiences (moving toward the notion of "Internet stadiums" and "Internet convention centers").

For both these reasons, I'm interested in a startup operation called Placeware -- At their demo site, you can have up to seven speakers on stage, and up to 500 people in the audience. The folks in the audience can talk to others "seated" in the same row, and can "raise their hands" to be recognized by the speaker(s) or can submit questions through a moderator. That much feels very much like a large chat room at AOL. But they also add voice, and the ability for the speaker to show PowerPoint slides and whiteboard and "polling".

There are limitations:

Over time, the vast majority of users will have Pentium or more powerful processors.

The style of a Placeware event is by design very different from my weekly text-chat sessions. My chat tends to be a brainstorming session among peers. Placeware's auditorium is designed more for formal presentations, where there is a clear distinction between speaker(s) and audience.

Check the Web-net site for details -- and keep in mind that you'll need to download the plug-in in advance.

Text vs. talkies

From: Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 1997 8:55:32 AM

> As bandwidth becomes less of an issue, today's text-based chat will eventually be replaced by audio and video versions (just as "talkies" displaced silent movies).

I hope not.

I am far more comfortable with text for a content-filled discussion than spontaneous speech.

(Of course, if the conferencing system supported review and editing of a speech or video input before submission, I *might* be convinced. If internet chat becomes just a distributed form of what happens in a meeting room, then I know I am at a disadvantage there.)

On the other hand, Placeware does sound intriguing and I will check it out -- thanks!

Bob Fleischer, Digital Equipment Corporation, Network and Systems Integration Services

Placeware speech -- audience reaction

From: Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 10:23:06 -0500










Placeware comments

From: Bob Zwick <> Date: Wed, 05 Nov 97 12:24:37 -0600

I may not be able to make the chat tomorrow so I wanted to let you know about my experiences with the placeware chat.

I could not successfully connect to the WEBNET Auditorium. I tried three times with Netscape 3 and IE 3 (with the audio client) and each time the Java program locked up my system to the point that I had to power down to recover.

I had no problems getting into the Placeware rooms, just WEB-NET.

Although the model is great, I really have my doubts about the reliability and slowness of Java apps of this kind at the current level of development.

Wish I could have participated.

Bob, Cottage Micro Services, 103 Vinyard Drive, Waxahachie, TX 75167. 

More on Web Rings

From: Tracy Marks <> Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 06:19:01 -0500

I just sent this to Nettrain. Feel free to post it...I also added several paragraphs at the end, for your benefit....

Out of curiosity about webrings, and a desire to understand more fully what interests people on the Net, I decided to compile a list of the most popular web rings of's 250,000+ sites....drawing from their lists in each category. The results were just as discouraging (in regard to the substance of Net surfers interests) as the popular word lists of Yahoo. Over 50% are sexual-related....Notice the strong appeal to men, particularly of the top ten webrings.

Here's the "traffic report" for visitors during the last 8 weeks to each of the top 20 web rings via the links....

ADDENDUM: Apart from the sexually-oriented sites, perhaps we can learn from some of the topics mentioned above in regard to their relevance to business on the Net....Consider for example Mama Ragu's site, and how it combines all sorts of sideline interests (the Italian language, for example) to draw people...

Given the abundance of personal and personal interest web sites, I wonder if businesses would do well to be associated with them in some way...or to link to them as part of some kind of web ring on a comprehensive theme....and to play up to the personal interests of Net surfers in order to attract their attention.

Omitting the sexual sites above: consider a music store in the Mariah Carey webring, and featuring Mariah Carey; any business site or daycare center (more and more have them) with a web camera as part of the webcam ring; a kitchen appliance or mail-order food store in the recipe ring; and any store or service with an ethnic or national focus having a page onthat culture's genealogy, and being part of the genealogy ring.

The rewards may be small at the moment, but the possibilities are unlimited....

Right now I'm questioning the separation between personal and business sites. Some of the most popular business sites take a very personal (and often interactive approach...

....Perhaps people may be drawn to business offerings AFTER their personal needs and interests are satisfied....

Just my two quarters (since pennies are now given away in stores, I've decided to not be so dispensable)

Tracy Marks, M.A.

Another community article

From: Tracy Marks <> Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997 00:48:15 -0500

Article on the development of Community on the Net and its recognition by academia- a panel with Howard Rheingold, Marc Smith, Amy Bruckman and Barry Wellman which occurred November 7.

Tracy Marks, M.A. 

On-line community class

From: Tracy Marks <> Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997 01:01:53 -0500

The Building an Online Community course is starting soon at , and like all zdu classes, is $4.95.


How to plan, build and profit from a successful online community:

The registration info just came out...and like most zdu classes, it is likely to fill within a week. The course description and syllabus are at

I've taken photoshop and web design classes online there, and they've been excellent.

Tracy Marks

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