August 29, 1996

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, August 29, 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 ( - 11:57am -- Hello, we're here to talk about business on the World Wide Web. If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself and let us know your interests.

Richard Seltzer ( - 11:58am -- 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 Internetculture and environment? I work for the Internet Business Group at DigitalEquipment 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 andattention. And I'm also a member of the Boston Computer Society, which runs these weekly chat sessions.

Richard Seltzer ( - 11:59am -- A little bit of housekeeping to start with. 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

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:01pm -- I plan to edit the transcript of today's session as I have in the past. Barring technical difficulties, I hope to have a transcript up later today.I'll post it at the same site, naming this one /chat8.html Those transcripts should soon be moving to a new URL in the BCS space at

Tyrone Lobo ( - 12:01pm -- Tyrone Lobo, Sales Executive, Internet Software Business Unit, Digital Equipment ( - 11:59am -- Hi Richard. Good to see you again this week. I work in the area of internet/intranet development.

Vip ( - 11:59am -- Hi ! is this where the WWW chat is ?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:00pm -- Welcome, Nora. And, yes, Vip, this is the right place.

daveg ( - 12:08pm -- Dave Griffin, AltaVista Forum Engineering, Digital

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:09pm -- Hi, Jim Dorval from Vivo Software, Inc. Multimedia company. Sorry I am late.

Robert ( - 12:12pm -- Hello, Richard. I heard you were on AOL chat this week. Sorry I missed it. What's the topic for today?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:14pm -- Robert -- Yes, the Aol thing was fun last week. That was on Web publishing. This is on the broad topic of business on the WWW. We're trying to focus on business use of interactive applications like chat and forum today. But we're always open to other business-related questions.

Gordon@Innergy.Com ( - 12:40pm -- Gordon Benett here. I run Intranet Design Magazine(sm) at "". Sorry I'm late -- that darned day job keeps getting in the way. ;^)

Gordon@Innergy.Com ( - 12:45pm -- Jim@Vivo - I don't know whether anyone mentioned it earlier, but the Jeff Frentzen's column in the latest PC Week covers Internet video. Vivo is one of the links he recommends.

Email Return Receipt

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:03pm -- While it's not on that topic, for starters I wanted to forward a question that arrived yesterday and a reply to it -- in case others have similar concerns. Yesterday, I received the following question from someone who had joined in on previous discussions but won't be able to connect today. For the benefit of others, here's the question, followed by the detailed reply which Bruce Platt from Comport ( provided her.

from Nancy Enright -- I will not be available for the live chat tomorrow, but I have a question. How are people handling the unreliability of Internet email? I find that I have to ask my customers to send me mail to let me know that they received my mail - which is very clumsy. A return receipt function would be great. Is that in the future of Internet email?

from Bruce B. Platt -- Some mail clients do not support delivery and read-recipts. For example, Eudora Light ( a very popular PC mail client application doesn't). An excellent mail client which does is Pegasus Mail. Both of these are POP-3 Clients, which means that your mail server must support POP-3. Actually, though, while Pegasus Mail does support both confirmation of delivery and confirmation of reading, not all mail server software (SMTP compliantmailers) do. Most support delivery confirmation. So, when this mail is delivered to your system, and to Richards, I will get back a return receipt saying that it was delivered. Unlikely that I will get back a read-receipt.It's not in the requirements for SMTP compliance. Here's a URL that will take you to a place where you can download a copy of Pegasus Mail which last time I looked is FREEWARE! Regards, and I hope this helped.

What follows is a copy of the return receipt that shows my mail message got to Richard's system. Now, I didn't get a return receipt from your system, but I know it got there by looking at my mailserver logs, which say:

"Aug 28 12:59:02 gateway sendmail[15535]:

AA15524: to=, delay=00:01:31, stat=Sent"

Can you tell me what mail client you use, and what your mail server is?

>Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 12:57:26-0400

>From: Mail Delivery Subsystem >Subject: Returned mail: Return receipt

>To: "Bruce B. Platt"

> >The original message was received at Wed, 28 Aug 1996 12:57:18 -0400

>from [] > >

----- Transcript of session follows ----- >... Successfully delivered > >

----- Message header follows ----- >Return-Path: >Received:

from ( []) by (8.6.9/8.6.6.Beta9) with SMTP id MAA22227 for ; Wed, 28 Aug

1996 12:57:18 -0400 >Received: by;

(5.65v3.2/1.3/10May95) id AA15524; Wed, 28 Aug 1996 12:57:31 -0400


>Comments: Authenticated sender is >From: "Bruce B. Platt"

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:04pm -- By the way, one quick way of using this medium is to write some of your thoughts in Word beforehand, then save pieces to your clipboard and paste them in the message box here. (There's no way I could type that fast.)

Chat and Forums

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:01pm -- Today, while we'll (as usual) be open to questions of all kinds about business on the WWW, we would like to focus on the use of chat, forum, and other interactive applications in a business setting. How are people using these tools (both on intranets and over the public Internet)? What are the benefits and costs? What are the human factors necessary for success? Does that ring a bell with any of you?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:05pm -- Anyway, is chat/forum a topic that any of you connected now are interested in discussing? I'd like to hear of instances where this technology is being used in a business etting -- e.g., for product support, for training, for meetings, etc.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:07pm -- By way of definition -- (the words chat and forum are sometimes used very loosely). I think of chat as an application like this one, where messages are shared among a group in real time, often chaotically, but with a sense of immediacy and urgency. People tend to show up when the meeting is scheduled to start. Forum is like bulletin boards and notes -- you can connect at any time and the messages are organized in threads of response.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:08pm -- Other applications also fit in this space -- on-line whiteboards and videoconferencing -- any approach that let's the users of a Web site discuss issues among themselves.

Vip ( - 12:09pm -- Richard, I maintain the Complete Intranet Resource Site and I am looking into providing Web Chat to make the site more interactive and dynamic. Whatdoes everyone think about visiting a resource site on a topic and then being able to join a LIVE chat session from your browser ?

Chat/Forums: PRODUCTS

Tyrone Lobo ( - 12:09pm -- Richard, for my benefit at least, could you breifly name some of the chat products that in your opinion are particularly suited to business interaction. I'm not familiar with the range of products available.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:11pm -- Tyrone -- I've seen and used Digital's AltaVista Forum (which also includes chat), and whatever the software is that we're using here, and a Java-based chat that EarthWeb has. I've also been to a number of sites that have chat/forum applications running, but don't identify the software.

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:15pm -- Microcom Carbon Copy (for Web) has Chat and other features. DataBeam has a T.120 PPP product that has WhiteBoard and Chat functionality. I have a list somewhere that I can forward to you if you are really interested.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:18pm -- Jim Dorval -- Please send me that list by email and I'll post it with the transcript so others can refer to it.

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:22pm -- I added it to my task list, Richard. Pow-wow and Round Table are two products that are fair at live text/graphics chats.

Chat/Forum: Products: CARBON COPY

Lionel Goulet ( - 12:47pm -- Before we get past the topic, could anyone tell me where I can find out more about "Carbon Copy"?

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:49pm Carbon Copy is available from Microcom Systems, Inc. in Norwood, MA. I believe also at

Chat/Forum: Products: CU SeeMe

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:32pm -- One of the problems with on-line communications is that people are not very good at converting thought into text in real time. I promote communications here by allowing people to chat almost anytime they want.

Vip ( - 12:13pm -- Another options to a free for all live chat is a live "interview" where for ex. the web site moderator interviews an "expert" in the field and everyoneelse is allowed to listen but they cannot talk directly. Any questions or comments can be forwarded to the moderation who can then ask the "expert"

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:17pm -- Vip -- Do you mean a video/audio interview? For instance with RealAudio, VDOLive or vivo? Or a plain text interview? Ideal would be if you could be running a couple of windows, with the interview (text or multimedia) in one and the chat in the other. Has anyone seen anything like that in action? Has anyone used anything like that in a business environment?

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:17pm -- The easiest and most popular chat I have seen is CUSEE-ME. (Requires a reflector, but they are available and free.)

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:22pm -- Is anyone out there using CU-SeeMe in a business environment? on an intranet? If so, how are you using it? While I could imagine using it for chat, I'd expect the session to get very confusing with more than a fewpeople on line. How does that work?

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:24pm -- I occasionally use CUSEE-ME to get a hold of old colleagues to discuss technical issues.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:30pm -- Jim -- It's easy to do a one-to-one conversation (with live video) using CU-SeeMe. But what happens when you go to three or more people? Is there any way to manage that (if it's technically possible)? For just one-to-one I'd go Internet Phone or one of the newer video phone over the Internet applications.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:35pm -- Jim -- I need to play more with that one (don't have it on my own system). Mainly I've seen CU-SeeMe demoed just to show off live video. I've never seen it really used as a means of conducting business conversations.

Chat/Forum: Products: NETMEETING ( - 12:08pm -- Has anyone out there used Microsoft's NetMeeting? I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a powerful and flexible tool - all the usual chat stuff, plus being able to take control of an application on a remote machine, and also a "white board" all parties can draw on.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:09pm -- Nora -- I also have heard of NetMeeting but haven't used it. I'd love to here of a real application -- a case where a company is actually using it for business.

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:13pm -- Hi Nora. Yes we are trying to use Net Meeting with no success so far.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:15pm -- Jim Dorval -- When you say you are having no success with NetMeeting, what problems are you encountering? Is it a problem with the software? Or a problem getting people to use it? ( - 12:15pm -- Jim, if you want to e-mail me, I'd be interested in what the problems are you're having with NetMeeting.... and would forward it on to this guy I know who collects feedback for MS. .... BTW, the server is really S L O W today.

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:18pm -- The NetMeeting problem is use, and functionality, not useability.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:19pm -- Jim and Nora -- also please include me in your correspondence about NetMeeting.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:20pm -- Jim -- Could you explain some more? I'm not sure what you mean by the distinction between use and usability. What's the problem?

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:23pm -- Sorry, use as in getting people to use it. Not that they can't figure it out.

Dave Griffin ( - 12:26pm -- Jim (jimd), can you comment more on why people don't use it? Do they have alternative programs? Other (email, walking)??

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:29pm -- Dave, yes our main communications method is e-mail, followed by sneaker mail.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:26pm -- Jim -- Yes, it seems that there is a general issue around getting people to use great interactive applications. "use" in the sense of activelyparticipate and contribute. I've heard that in newsgroups the ratio oflurkers to contributors runs about 10 to 1 or 9 to 1. From what I've seen, unless there's some compelling reason or incentive for participation, the ratio for forums seems to run about a hundred to 1. Chat is much more chaotic and harder to follow, but it has the virtue of immediacy -- in a relatively short span of time you can generate an interesting volume of content. I'd love to see a marriage between those approaches. (My hand-edited transcripts of these sessions are a rough shot at what that might look like.)

Chat/Forum: Products: ALTAVISTA FORUM

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:10pm -- Hi from LEXIS-NEXIS. I have a question. Are any of you working on an intranet for a large company where the user communities are responsible for their own content? If so, what does your contribution process look like?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:13pm -- Mary-Ellen -- the user contribution process is an interesting question. Some software allows or even forces you to have users register and then limits access to passwords. That has pluses and minuses. You know who is there. You perhaps limit the flow of the information. But you also vastly cut down on the audience. What's your experience?

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:18pm -- Richard (re: contribution)- There really isn't anything out there yet that has what we are looking for. We need a sort of combination of document management, document conversion, and site management! A couple of thedocumnent management vendors are close, but still maybe 6 months or so away. We use some freeware + Verity Topic currently.

Tyrone Lobo ( - 12:21pm -- Mary-Ellen: have you seen AltaVista Forum? It may be a fit for what you are looking for:

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:23pm -- Tyrone (re: contribution) - Does Alta Vista have document management functions? And conversion? I thought is was just a web-based forum application.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:24pm -- Mary-Ellen -- Yes, as Tyrone pointed out, AltaVista Forum makes it easy to convert/post documents in HTML form, with threads to the discussion. It's a quick and easy way to maintain a Web site that's intended to tie together agroup of people involved in the same project or having a common interest. ( - 12:24pm -- Mary-Ellen, are you worrying about things like format and organization standards, or about have content coherency and an overall site integrity that supports whatever the business goals were?

Tyrone Lobo ( - 12:27pm -- Mary-Ellen: AltaVisa Forum does allow you to implement the concept of document shared areas (or whatever you want to call them). Stores items in their native format etc. The one feature I do not believe it implements yet is check-in/check-out

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:27pm -- Mary-Ellen -- AltaVista Forum does have those kind of features. You're best off checking the Web site for the product lit.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting Coporation ( - 12:39pm -- Mary-Ellen, we chose AltaVista Forum, for two reasons: First, I'm a die-hard DEC-cie. Second, it works great with any type of document that is mime-able. I.e., ms-word, excell, powerpoint, octect-stream, etc. It's very easy to upload documents, download them, and just simply use text.


Richard Seltzer ( - 12:31pm -- All -- While we've all seen chat/forum in the public Internet, can any of your share experiences about their use on intranets? Best would be unexpected applications -- with a few words about how they worked or didn't.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting Coporation ( - 12:34pm -- Sorry I'm late. I couldn't get into the chat room. Richard about experiences with chat, We use AltaVista Forum for sharing corporate information (an Intranet Application) via the internet. We have commonlyused business documents, forms, and so forth for our people to use, as well as an interactive section, where questions are asked, and people share answers. Our people find it useful. Also, I have another example I'll give later. ( - 12:12pm -- I think joining an on-topic chat (like we're all doing today) is good. .... I also think many of the meetings I went to at DEC could well have been more effectively and efficiently been conducted with a good chat tool. (like the one i mentioned.)

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:35pm -- I used Carbon Copy Chat to help Technical Support answer questions in real time.

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:38pm -- Carbon Copy is a Remote Control / File X-fer / Chat / Terminal program that runs over different communications layers like IPX, COM, TCP/IP.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:37pm -- Jim -- Is that chat session open to the public? Or is it password access for folks under warrantee or with service contracts? Is it live/realtime? Or is it threaded forum style? If live, when is it staffed with experts? Just a few scheduled hours with targeted topics? Or 24 hours -- connect when you want. What's the max number of users the application can accommodate? And what's the max that you can reasonably handle from a human point of view?

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:41pm -- re: Chat? It was an Intranet chat, and sequentially single threaded.

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:37pm -- Richard (re: intranet chats) - We did a small pilot of a chat site in which our sales force could post questions while on the road and get very fast answers from the home office staff w/o having to phone a specific person, or call a help desk. The issue is manning the chat at the home office.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:39pm -- Mary-Ellen -- How did you decide to manage the chat at the home office? I've heard rumors that chat/forum can replace almost any 800 number info service at a small fraction of the cost. But I haven't seen anything aboutthe human side of it. For chat in particular that could mean having an "expert" on-line at all times (the Web being global). What's your take on that?

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:32pm -- Nora (re contribution) - our worries are about how to implement an easy and effective method of contribution so that our IS organization does not get tied up with conversions and maintenance. Also, it has to be easy enoughfor non-technical folks to use. Pure document management is close, but we want the repository to be accesible from a browser. Site manamgent tools and HTML editors are to complex for the average PC user. The scope is the entire company, not just a group.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:34pm -- Mary-Ellen AltaVista Forum is a solution for that. At the same time, you might want to do some simple demystifying education -- letting people know how easy it can be to post to the Web with that application or in otherways. You might want to check my article for newcomers Low Tech Web Design -- ( - 12:37pm -- Mary-Ellen. It would depend a lot on what platform your intranet is running on, .... and also what the application base of your users is. ... and also the business functions involved. Would contributions come mostly off ofword processors, spread sheets and simple data bases? .... or off of complex reporting programs from monster apps like SAP? .. I don't want to go down a rat hole with all this, so you can e-mail me later if you like. ... It IS an interesting problem, and one that is important in really usingintranets as an effective enabler in business.

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:40pm -- nora (re: contribution) - You are right in that this is a complex problem. You are also right that it is a key problem to solve for any large company that wants a truly effective intranet.

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:44pm -- Richard (re: intranet chat) - We had one or more members of the support people from our 800 number also man the chat. They took turns and covered about a 16 hours/day. The real issue was getting the sales force to use it and like it. It really is quicker to call and speak than it is to type :-)

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:48pm -- Mary-Ellen -- quicker to call than type -- yes, if you can get through. But in many cases (especially for PC support), the customer may be put on hold for hours -- even many hours. I'd much prefer to be able to get to a chat session, where the questions that others might be of interest to me. Or perhaps a moderated chat, where my question goes into a queue for on-line answering, and while waiting I can search the archives and try to get my answer that way. Support operations always seem to be run on a shoestring, or rather with as few people as the patience of the audience will put up with. I'd like to be able to actively do something to get my info sooner -- and that would relieve some of the burden on the overworked support folks.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:51pm -- Mary-Ellen -- for an intranet application, it may be that the solution to getting people to use chat/forum for support is to take away the telephone alternative. Digital did that with a set of partners in the UK. They wentfrom an 800 number type support with this group of several hundred companies, to using AltaVista Forum (I believe), and their costs went from about $250,000 per year to about $25,000 per year. At first the partners squawked. But they got used to the new system quickly and now find it far more useful than the old telephone support.


Dave Griffin ( - 12:38pm -- Do people out there find chat (and other similar gizmos) to be utilized more as an alternative to talking, where the record literally vanishes intothin air? Or is there a organizational need to "record" the conversation (like Richard does with his transcripts of this chat room)?

Tyrone Lobo ( - 12:43pm -- Dave: for business chats I do find myself making notes of points of interest to me, so in my case, recording or having access to a record ofthe chat is important. I'm not familiar enought with chat programs to know how to create the record automatically.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:44pm -- Dave -- Admittedly I'm prejudiced. But I believe that business-oriented chat needs to be archived in a sensible, readable and searchable form. The origins of chat -- with IRC chat over the old text-only Internet -- quickly went from technical conversations to flirtatious chatter, with the chatter eventually dominating. And of course there is little or no reason for saving random chatter (in fact the participants , who love anonymity, might be very annoyed). But business chat -- like this one is a different matter. Note -- makes a clear distinction between the social chatter type chat rooms and the scheduled chats.


Richard Seltzer ( - 12:41pm -- All -- My nirvana in the sky is to find a PC company that does on-line support through a combination of chat and forum. I'd like to be able to connect at any time of day and have a chat/help session with an expert. And I'd also like to be able to search through an archive of all such conversations in the past in hopes that there's already an answer available. Anybody see anything like that yet?

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:44pm -- When we (Vivo) were focused on H.320 Video Conferencing, our support was on-line in the manner you described Richard.

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:46pm -- Unfortunately, we did not have the $$$ of Intel who trashed the business.

Plug-ins: FTP Software Keyview

Gordon@Innergy.Com ( - 12:42pm -- Nora, M-E: what do you think of plug-ins like FTP Software Keyview that enable users to browse non-HTML document word in their native formats?

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:48pm -- Gordon (re: plug-ins) - I think plug-ins like FTP Software Keyview is wonderful. Our problem, though, is the multiple desktop platforms we have here. If the plug-ins would work in the UNIX environment, we'd be golden! We don't need them for the PC's 'cause we can just use Word, Excel, whatever to view the docs. We also have the added problem of UNIX FrameMaker document (although there is a PC viewer available for $$).

Wrap Up

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:52pm -- All -- Time is moving far too quickly. It feels like we're just getting warmed up and the hour is almost over. Please, all, let us know your email addresses and your URL for possible followup.

All -- also, please send me email with questions and comments you didn't have time to post and I'll include them with the transcript, which I'll be posting later today at ( - 12:53pm -- See you all next week.

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:54pm -- Richard (re: contact info) - email: Company URL: Personal URL:

Gordon@Innergy.Com ( - 12:55pm -- 'Bye for now. Be sure to check out the new issue of IDM, online at "".

Jim Dorval ( ( - 12:55pm -- Thanks Richard, and everyone. I will e-mail the list of Chat capable products. Jim Dorval Vivo Software, Inc. Waltham, MA. (Note -- now at

Mary-Ellen Fremuth ( - 12:55pm -- Thanks everyone!!!

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:55pm -- All -- thank you very much for your participation. Please followup with email.

Topic for Next Week

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:54pm -- All -- For next week, I was thinking of focusing on virtual companies -- what does the term mean? how to you make organizations like that work? what Internet tools are essential in that environment? But it feels like we also have a lot of energy remaining around today's topic. Please send me email to let me know what you'd like to talk about.

Followup Messages -- Savings from using chat rather than 800

Mary-Ellen Fremuth,, Thursday, August 29, 1996 1:09:00 PM -- Thanks for a great chat session. This is the first one I've remembered in time to participate in one! I should add them to my calendar. Anyway, for next week I think talking about how to make an intranet invaluable to home-based or remote employees (virtual office) would be great. I also think that the discussion of how to save money using chat rather than 800 numbers should continue. I'd love to hear more about how Digital went from spending $250,000/year to $25,000/year. Those are the kind of numbers that make execs stop, look, and listen!!

Tom Richardson,, Aug. 19, 1996 -- I actually saw that part of the chat , right near the end. I have a little more detail on that 800 number example, but I have a great amount of detail on a pilot Digital did with it's Home Alone sales force. Based on test where our 800 number was costing us $.08/min, they all got ISP accounts and tunnels (VPNs) for the sample the total cost went from $2.0M to $800,000. This did not count the cost of getting rid of modem racks, servers, other kinds of things. Anyhow there is more data, but Digital will save $10M when this is extended to the 8600 eligible employees.

Followup Messages -- Example of Virtual Company Operation

From: Tom Dadakis <>

Date: Mon, 2 Sep 1996 14:16:47 -0700

Sorry I missed last week & don't know if I can make 12-1 on Thursday. I have been following the summaries. I am currently leading the development of an Intranet with 6 programmers onsite for a Fortune 50 division in CT (we are under a non-disclosure). However your topic regarding virtual companies caught my eye, so I wanted to relay my experience operating a virtual production line in cyberspace, in case I miss the 12-1 period on Sept 5.

Dave Carr wrote an interesting article in the July 22nd, 1996 issue of Webweek about my experience and others. My email to Dave follows this message. I hope this is what you were thinking of for your topic.

Richard, the discussion forum you host is a great resource; I just wish the chat software would allow threaded conversations so I could follow one conversation at a time. I find your synopsis a great help even for those days I do participate.

At the beginning of this year and continuing through the Spring , for a firm under contract to Thomas Register Publishing, as Project Manager, I developed, organized and operated a high volume webpage production line producing 30-50 website catalogs per week supervising 25 programmers ( 5 of which were webmasters). All of these programmers were part-time employees who worked at their own location. They used their own equipment and software.

We were actually virtual production line in cyberspace. The original material was usually prepared for print, came to us in many different formats, such as Syquest tapes, Zip disks, floppies or hard copy. It could be in Quark, Pagemaker or just plain text. I was responsible for planning & allocating resources, project scheduling according to skills,software and hardware availability. The original material would be picked up by the team leaders. The team leaders would get the material to the programmers The programmers then would deliver the finished websites to an ftp site we set up as a drop site which all of us could access.

The website was then processed through a three level Quality Control. The team leader would be the first to review the finished webwork. Either the team leader would make necessary corrections (typos, spelling, proper HTML code, dangling HTML tags).

If the team leader approved the work, the team leader would notify the Proofer through email that there was work to be proofed. The Proofer, who had previous experience as a publishing proofreader, would duplicate the review the work for same items as the team leader plus would look for specific conformance with the 10 pages of specifications as required by the client. The Proofer would email the team leader about anything which was not acceptable. After the first couple of sites, the HTML coders understood what was expected. I, as Project Manager, was cc'ed on all of this and would follow the production and corrections at the ftp site. As Project leader, I was the final review and responsible for any corrections or errors which were not made.

Once the site was ready for delivery to the client, it was posted to a website for review by the client online (although they also liked a copy on an electronic medium, either disk or tape as backup). This method allowed everyone to see the final product. The website was password protected to keep the search engines from listing these sites before the client was ready.

With everyone working at their own location, this electronic production line would not be possible without the use of a network like the Internet This system was`scalable to any size volume. While we had some startup problems (AOL users couldn't ftp their finished work) and some programmers did not do the work for which they were contracted, we were able to operate with multiple HTML coders in multiple locations and operate a virtual production line in cyberspace.

If you have any questions, you can call me at 203-622-4717 or email me at

Tom Dadakis 203-622-4717 ph&fx DadaCom

Internet Consulting Services 

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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.

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