Friday, September 17, 2004

Paid Membership On Ryze

Paid Membership On Ryze -

Ryze earns part of it's income from paid memberships. In my view the description of what's offered is not well considered. Ryze pretends there are several "benefits" that a not real for most people. However, there are real benefits. Ryze management is just confused (temporarily I hope) about what they are.

Gold membership of Ryze costs $9.95 per month. (Annual Gold membership for $99.95/yr) Many pay for the satisfaction of knowing that they are full participants in Ryze. It's expected that paid membership of Ryze will mostly interest business people and have a business purpose. By recently creating restrictions on the ability of Free Members see and contact each other, Ryze has made Gold Membership more important. Time will tell how that change will affect how Ryze develops. (Ecademy has restrictions like this too. That was one of the key reasons I focused most of my efforts on Ryze.)

Loading More Pictures: Gold members can load up to four extra pictures on their Ryze Homepage's. Can I make a plea here for small pictures. Too many pages have four or five large pictures which have not been compressed. If your page won't load in 20 or 30 seconds change the images.

Send Messages to Distant Members: Ryze says, "With a Gold membership, you can communicate with up to 25 distant members per month, people who are not within 2 friends of you and not in the same Networks as you." This is the new restriction posing as a benefit. However it's a fair call. If you needed to build a network and you can only invite 25 distant members a month, you can still contact a lot of people in a year. Considerately contacting new people takes time. You must choose your audience and write only to people who are likely to be interested. You can use pivot searching to find people who share interests.

"If you want, you can let any member communicate with you, without counting towards their communication limit." You should turn that option on, it doesn't help you, but it may help others.

Increase Your Ability to "See" and "Be Seen": Ryze says, "Web site URLs in profiles are now only visible if you're a Gold member or visiting a Gold member's page, or within 2 friends of the person." That means that if you are promoting a business, your business URL will not be visible to many "free members" unless you are a Gold or Platinum Member. In addition as a paying member you get to see almost all the content of any members page, including their business links and the networks they have joined. (But not their guestbook's if they are set to "friends Only".)

"Have your photo displayed in a large size (instead of tiny) next to your posts to the message boards, giving you better visibility and marketing" It's certainly true that recognition by your photograph is very useful. People are visual, they remember images.

Scan the List of Newest Members: Ryze says, "Save 4 hours each month using the Newest Members List -- Scan through mini-bios of the newest members all in one page without having to click through to each." This is a non-benefit pretending to have value. New members are not good material to network with. (They might be great to send spam too, but we're not doing that.) A few of those who join are new to Ryze but not really internet newbies. People like that will find materials like this Blog quite easily. They will very soon come to visit you. Trying to chase them isn't good use of your time. There are better things to do on Ryze.

New members on Ryze need mentors to help them get established. I suggest to Ryze that they establish a mentor programme for volunteer established members. A trade off. New Members are asked to choose a mentor, to be their "guide for a month". The person chosen gets a month's Gold Membership. Thousands of people join Ryze and never really get started. What a waste.

(Off Topic Note) Internet Newbies: Internet Newbies (About 80% of all Internet users in my view.) are unresponsive to realistic messages. They are newbies because they lack understanding and confidence. Any time you spend on them is 90% wasted. Please note that I believe training newbies is a very important task. This Blog is my response to that need. But I'm not going to hold every hand until each one develops the confidence to be independent. There is an enormous need to train newbies, but it costs a fortune in time and effort. I've met people with five years of internet experience who remain newbies. The main problem is that they won't "join" so they never get into a group where they might learn something. All learning is social. Newbies are human beings. They are probably engaged in some other social activity, that gives them pleasure. In the worst case they watch TV. They don't want to "join" or to be "trained" so they "resist" in every conceivable way. They will learn when they are "ready" and not before. Newbies have to turn themselves "on". Joining Ryze is a wonderful step in the right direction. But thousands of people join Ryze, partly set up a Ryze Homepage and then lose interest or get frightened off by fear of the unknown.

Your Own Network: Gold members can "Create a Network on Ryze, adding hundreds to your network and increasing your prominence and visibility" This is a real benefit, but most network leaders fail to build successful networks. Note the emphasis on "adding hundreds to your network". That will only happen if you know how to work with people. There is a great deal involved in being a successful network leader. Much of it is in the art of being useful to other people.

Success as a network leader involves choosing an interesting topic, setting fair rules for your network and creating yourself a large number of interesting posts while the membership slowly grows. You can use the pivot search process to identify people who might enjoy your network. As a Gold Member you can contact up to 25 such people every month and advise them about your network. Please do more than that. Be useful to these people, offer them something that helps.

There is a Ryze Network called Ryze Network Leaders and another one called The Virtual Handshake. All people leading networks should join both of those.

Writing in HTML: Ryze says, "Use of an HTML Editor, that lets you create your home page, message board posts, event descriptions, etc., without programming or installing software (it's in Flash)" I view this as a doubtful benefit. There are much better HTML editors available free. I usually suggest using the Composer function of the old Mozilla browser.
Warren Contreras suggests the Arachnophilia Editor which looks functional to me.
I've just discovered the joy of Mozilla's Firefox Browser, and you can add the CuneAform HTML Editor to it's toolbar.

You only need six or eight tags to write functional HTML text for letters to Ryze forums. Anyone can do it.

Face to Face Meetings: Ryze tell us to "Save $3+ at Ryze mixers and other featured events (easily covers at least half the cost of gold membership)" This is another doubtful benefit. You have to spend money to make the "saving" and there needs to be a programme of Ryze Mixers in your area. On the other hand people report excellent benefits from attending Ryze Mixers. Any social gathering is as good or as bad as it's organization. That depends entirely on the skills and abilities of the local organizer. If the leadership is good the mixers will be worthwhile.

Be a Person of Value: Ryze suggests that you should "Plan for productive networking at Mixers using the View Attendees Bio's. You get a summary of all attendees' backgrounds all in one page, without having to click through to each! So you can connect with the 5-10 most relevant people for you to network with at an event." This is another benefit in theory, that doesn't exist for most people. The emphasis here is on, "What can I get for me." The focus should be on, "What do I have to give the group?" Make yourself USEFUL to other people. Start by reading their Ryze Homepage's, take an interest in their posts to networks, listen to what they say. Be real to them.

Platinum membership

Ryze Platinum Membership costs $19.95 per month (Annual Platinum Membership $199.95)

"With a Platinum membership, you can: Enjoy all the benefits of a Ryze Gold membership, plus"
"Lead up to 3 Networks on Ryze, instead of just one, giving you more visibility and the ability to market to different groups with different focuses."
There is a huge amount of work to leading one successful network, let alone three. Leading three networks on different topics is likely to confuse people about your purpose.

I can see uses for multiple networks in a business framework. You can run an active public network, and run two related "private" networks for your "paying customers". Access to the main network is open to all. Access to the private networks is restricted, invitation only, and subject to your approval.

Plus; you can "Communicate with up to 35 distant members per month, people who are not within 2 friends of you and not in the same Networks as you." That's the ability to contact 10 additional distant members a month. Useful I guess, but if you are running three networks you'll probable never get the chance to use them.

Innovation Realities

The new restrictions on what you can see and who you can contact are I believe intended to drive up Gold Membership. I expect that after some people drop away, that effect will occur. Ryze needs a strong revenue model. If the network doesn't produce cash returns it will die. Ecademy tries to drive up revenue with advertising. Let's not use that model on Ryze.

[insert] Adrian Scott, Ryze Founder & CEO remarks in comment "1" below "The changes are designed to reduce spam and encourage thoughtful networking. The effects on Gold membership are unknown and a risk for Ryze, rather than a goal of these changes." There is access to the "Updated version: improving the quality and experience of business networking on Ryze" here. Thank you Adrian for the input. I don't mind being wrong, I just wish it didn't happen all the time. [/Insert]

In my view Ryze Platinum Membership, has been badly thought through. My expertise is in innovation. My knowledge tells me that all innovations are messy, and when large groups of people are involved bloody too. It's easy to be wise afterwards, very difficult looking forward.

None of us really know why Ryze works so well, and what small changes might enhance it or kill it. All our theories about that are simply ideas that we can't easily test. What will happen because guestbook's have become "Friends Only" areas for most people? We can't tell. Ryze hopes that people will use the guestbook's for chatty little personal notes I guess. Text Messaging via guestbook's perhaps. Maybe that will work. That's not what I see as the purpose of a guestbook.

There is enormous opportunity for Ryze and several other Social Networks to grow and prosper. These are early days. As our experience grows we begin to see new possibilities. We try to make changes that take us forward. We do something. We learn. Some of what we learn confounds our expectation. Why? We get some new ideas and we try again. Research Scientist, Andrew Wylie (He published in 1972 a paper on the discovery of apoptosis), described the innovation (discovery) process as like crawling down a blackened corridor on hands and knees looking for an exit. The problem is that you can find exits into rooms that have no real windows and only a single door, back into that black corridor. Trying to move forward with any innovation is like that. When you can "see" you are probably not making progress. When you are making progress you usually can't be sure if you're doing the right or the wrong thing. What you can be sure of, is that time teaches valuable lessons to those with eyes to see. We are all wiser with hindsight.

The latest changes to Ryze are interesting. Lessons will be learnt. Real innovations take a long time. Progress is made in many small steps, not always successful steps. It's important to conserve resources. Wrong moves and mistakes teach you how to succeed. So long as innovators maintain their resource base ( best ideas, people, customer base, leadership and cash) they can go forward to fight another day.

If innovation interests you see the Veech Innovation Network on Ryze.

John S Veitch
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

How to Prosper On Ryze - Free Access

How to Prosper On Ryze - Free Access

Privacy: When you join the Ryze Business Network your page is marked "private" until you make it "public". This gives you time to organise your page and make it look interesting. Provide a small photograph, if not of yourself, then of something that you are interested in. Add some basic personal details, but don't include your real email address. Find half a dozen quotes you like and put them on the page. Make your page "public".

Your Ryze Name: You might also notice that almost everyone on Ryze, joins using their personal name, their real name. There are quite a number who choose a nickname, and a few who register under a business name. Using real names encourages trust. But it's possible that using a real name could cause you problems. How confident are you? How public is your real life? I've had lots of good things occur on Ryze because I use my real name. But I've also been abused by two people. (Called a "communist" and "Liberal moron" and a few similar things.) I'm a big boy, and things that are not true only hurt if you let them. Still there was a spat, I stepped up to the plate in defence of civil discussion and I got abused for it. That seldom happens on Ryze, but it's possible.

Who You Can Contact: Ryze says, "Basic level members can only communicate with people within 2 friends of them, or in the same networks as them." This means that there is encouragement for you to join many networks, or to develop a large lists of "friends". I personally think that works against building the best quality networks, but this emphasis on numbers is driven by commercial realities. Ryze is still learning how to make a great social success into a stable business.

Guestbooks: Ryze Guestbooks are "On". You have the option to turn your guestbook "Friends Only" or to turn it "Off". You can change your guestbook Preferences Setting. I suggest that you keep your guestbook public, but there might be good reasons why you would not want that. (You might for instance be the Prime Minister of some country. You need to lurk, but you don't want to be "public" and you of course don't use your real name.)

Scott Allen is one of the leading authorities on internet networking. Scott says, "I'm a big advocate of guestbooks, but I believe they're best used to promote the other person, not yourself. Thank them publicly for a favour they've done you, congratulate them on a recent success, provide a testimonial regarding their product or service, etc. Do them a service by calling public attention to something positive about them. And you look better in the process, too."

Public Guestbooks: When people visit your page they may leave a guestbook entry. In the beginning you might be "attacked" by a few foolish people trying to attract a newbie into their network marketing scheme. If you are not interested pay no attention. Delete the guestbook entry. When you visit a members Ryze page, you may have a chance of leaving a guestbook entry. If you have something interesting and positive to say, by all means make an entry. If your thoughts are negative, don't bother. It's a rare person who will appreciate an honest but critical remark. Save your efforts for things that are productive.

Join some networks: I suggest that in the beginning you join one high traffic network and six to ten low traffic networks. You can't tell which is which until you see the traffic flows. Join networks that are related to things that interest you. Use the filter on your email system to direct all the mail from Ryze Networks into a Ryze Network folder, this mail should not go into your inbox at all. If you have joined a high traffic network the mail messages from that network will be huge, maybe as many as 100 letters a day. Turn the message notification to that network off. Decide to visit that network every day, and be sure you do that. The other networks with low traffic will get mail in little bursts. There may be nothing for a week or so and then a little clutch of 4-10 letters. You need email notification for networks like that.

Ryze says, "The Networks section of home pages is only visible to members within 2 friends or who are both in the same Network." That means that one restriction on free members is the inability to see who's there, and to see all the information about the people who are there. This policy forces "free members" to join more networks if they want to extend their range of contacts. I think that leads to silly behaviours like joining networks you never visit and have little interest in.

Successful Lurking: Now you need to spend perhaps half an hour a day reading the mail on your networks. They call this reading behaviour "lurking" because although you are a member, and although you read the mail, none of members of the network know you are there. This is a learning time. You will lurk until you have the knowledge and the courage to change your status and to write something yourself. Most people can't imagine that they will do that. Please remember this idea for later use: As a reader of a list or network you are not fully engaged. Once you identify yourself and begin to write to a network your engagement with the group changes, and the benefits of membership begin to multiply. All learning is social, but to benefit you need to behave in a social way. You decide when to claim your full rights as a peer. That starts when you begin to offer your own viewpoint in a public forum.

Friends: One of the standard features of the social network scene is the identification of friends. As a new member, you may feel obliged to accept everyone who turns up as a "friend". You need not do that, just accept as "friends" those people you have developed a knowledge of, people who are known to you and who have a good reputation in your eyes. Choose your friends wisely. And choose wisely when you ask someone you know to be identified as your friend too. Current Ryze policy encourages people to add as many people as possible to their "friends List" which is entirely contrary to what I think a friends list should be. There is pressure for a second level of friends, perhaps, "People I know", but that option doesn't currently exist.

Contact Manager: On Ryze there is an option to place a record in your "Contact Manager" when you visit the homepage of any Ryze Member. This tool is poorly understood and poorly used. I suggest you establish a routine were you add to your contacts anyone you are likely to be interested in at some future time. You can edit the information in the Contact Manager. If you leave a guestbook entry or send a personal massage, you might choose to record the date in the Contact Manager. If you make an offer to someone, you might record the date and the type of offer made. There is a place for Phone Numbers. Email, URL:, Company, Company Address, Home:, Home Address, Category, Follow Up Date, Interests, and Notes plus a direct link to the persons Ryze Homepage. I've neglected this facility, but now I see that I can edit the record and that it's private to myself, I'll make more use of it.

Pivot and Advanced Searching:You can use the pivot search process to build a list of people who work in an industry, or to find out who lists photography as a hobby, or who shares my interest in innovation. If I'm looking for specific and uncommon expertise, this can be valuable. As a free member though, you will not be able to "see" all the people available because of the "two degrees" restriction.

Collecting "Knowledge" Data: There are several more things you need to do as a member of Ryze to get the best benefits. First of all look for ideas and opinions that inform your knowledge base; learn. I end up printing several pages a day of interesting material collected on Ryze. I cut and paste the best letters, or parts of them into my word processor, edit slightly to remove extra blank lines and extraneous address details, and print the resulting text. It's much more efficient to read papers than to read text on screen. (However it also costs much more. I run a laser printer.) The very best of these papers eventually get filed in a subject labeled vertical file.

People Data: Second, find people you identify as interesting and knowledgeable. Perhaps you might print part of the homepage's of those people, and keep that detail in a folder somewhere. Too little attention is given to finding good people. When you seek information on a topic you find something useful but specific. When you find a good person, he or she is likely to have sound ideas on hundreds of topics. Good people are the pure gold of networking. Of course you will do your best to be a "good person" in the eyes of other people. Ryze works because mostly that's what people are doing.

Network Data: When you visit the Ryze pages of people you admire, check-out the networks they have joined. Have they found something interesting that might interest you? Some of the Networks you originally joined will be run by people who have poor leadership skills. Leave. You don't have the time to waste. As a free member sometimes the network memberships of a person you are visiting won't be visible to you.

Writing to Networks: You can write to networks in plain text. Write only when you have something to say. Please avoid wasting the valuable time of other people, by posting two line "replies" that add nothing to the knowledge of the group. Form an opinion. Express your opinion. Quote from previous letters, but generally delete any previous text that's not part of the issue under discussion. You only become a full member of a network once you begin to post your own letters. When that happens your interest in the network will increase, and other people will learn that you are there, and who you are too.

Writing in HTML: This seems like an advanced skill to a newbie. If you need to, get a copy of the Mozilla Browser which has a WYSIWYG editor caller Mozilla Composer in it. You can make headings, bold text, change fonts, and create links all without any special skills to learn. You can view the source, and you can cut and paste the source into a Ryze page or a Ryze letter. It's a simple process. You'll soon learn how to make minor changes to the source code. One day you will find you don't need the WYSIWYG editor any more.

John S Veitch
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Social Networks like Ryze and Xing

Newbies Avoid Social Networks like Ryze and Xing

Newbies Avoid Social Networks like Ryze and Xing, they even avoid places like MySpace. They say that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Likewise you can give people good advice but you can't make them understand it. Below I try to give you some excellent advice. You choose what to do.

There is so much that is new on the internet, much of it confusing to newbies. The news media is often seeking to promote fear of the internet, creating a negative attitude in the community and making many people reluctant to explore what the internet can really do. If you are connected socially with people who are not really internet literate, you will learn from them how to be like them, internet illiterate. All learning is social. Find the most skilled user group you can. Mix with them. They will teach you what you need to know.

To learn about life on the internet you You will probably need to change these settings, but the idea is to understand the need to mix with people who are strong internet users. You can find people like that on Ryze.

You'll only become a full citizen on the internet when you are a member of a group which contains people who have good skills. Social networks like Ryze and Xing offer that opportunity. Even so, most of the people who join such networks never learn to reap the benefits of their membership. If you just sign up, nothing will happen except that your space will be reserved. You need to participate to get any benefit, you need to become socially involved.

I'll talk about Ryze, because that's the network I know best. Xing has some nice features too, but it's even more complex and more difficult for newbies to cope with. Free membership of Xing is a bit restrictive. Free membership on Ryze lets you do a great deal more.

This rather long piece is more than busy people need. For a quicker way to get to the key things see "First Steps on Ryze" before you read this one.

Getting Started on Ryze

Your Basic Page Header: On Ryze when you join you get an opportunity to establish a home page, with some details about yourself. What your name is, your present occupation, the firm you work for, the university you attended, the city you live in, your goals and objectives. Without these basic details your page can't begin to function. Then you can add a photograph, the web address of your company, and if you have them, your personal web page and your personal blog address. These latter enhancements are useful but not essential parts of a Ryze page.

Privacy: Your first Ryze page is private and your guestbook is set "on" for public access. (You can change it to "Friends Only" but since you probably don't have any "friends" yet that means there is really no guestbook.) This permits a few foolish newbies on Ryze to spam your page. That might last about as week until your listing as a new member ends. You can delete those messages if you choose. Don't be put off, it won't last. Yes the big frightening world of public internet use does exist, but it's very safe on Ryze, trust me. More on this later.

Show that you are a real person: Within a few weeks of joining Ryze you should put some personal text into your Ryze page, perhaps adding some small photographs. Most people do this by choosing some quotes they like and they include a photo or two. An image of the city you live in, perhaps a family photograph and a pet photograph. Simple stuff. Sadly hundreds of people who join never have the confidence to do that. Their pages never become interesting to read. The message is clear, "I'm not an interesting person, please ignore me." They will get their wish.

Join some Networks: On Ryze there are hundreds of networks that you may join, most of which have a very low message load, but some of which get hundreds of messages a day. People can't know that when they join. Far too many people never join any networks. Some people join a large number, and turn off the email notices about postings. In both cases you are essentially not connected.

I suggest you join several networks. Make a list of your interests. In the Search Function on the Networks Page try each of your interests in turn. Join some of the networks that you find. Leave the mail option functioning. One or two of those groups are bound to have massive mail traffic. When you see that go back to the network page and turn mail from that network off. Make it part of your schedule to visit that network, once every day.

Don't let yourself be overwhelmed with 100 or more new letters suddenly arriving in your inbox. Use your mail filter to put all Ryze Network Mail into a Ryze Folder on your hard-drive. ( All mail from "Ryze Networks-Admin".)

If you've done that much you have set the foundation to be a successful member on Ryze. If you need help with any part of that, ask someone.

Try these networks where beginners questions are welcome HTML Helper The Virtual Handshake Networkers First Stop

John S Veitch
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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Social Networks - Relationships are Fundamental

Social Networks - Relationships are Fundamental

In the last six weeks two people who have lots of network contacts and loads of experience hit the rocks nose down when trying to manipulate their social networks. I will not disclose who these people are, but both of them are people I know and respect. Yet they both got it wrong. Why?

One of them believes in the power of numbers. In his view the function of a social network is to open as many potential gateways for meaningful messages as possible. He states clearly that there is great value in random connections, that trying to choose who you connect to is a mistake. In his view, "Just make as many connections as you can. One day that will begin to pay off." But nobody can sustain 2563 online "friends" in any meaningful way. They just become a target for network spam, which is exactly what happened. Many "friends" responded with anger about becoming targets for unwanted messages.

The other one believes as I do, that the quality of the connection is important. You should only invite into your close network people you know (online) fairly well, people you have been in contact with several times, and with whom views on several topics have been shared. That seems to be a safe, conservative and productive strategy. Yet the networker involved came to grief, be tried to quickly build a network by making an offer people couldn't refuse, "free stuff for his friends". But it backfired, traffic to the established list doubled, lots of new people who didn't know the culture of the list suddenly arrived, too many started posting "I'm new here messages". A large number if existing members saw the value for time contribution of the list fall, so they started to leave.

People with experience cannot be manipulated online. You can send a message to lots of people but the power of that message is weak. People are free to choose what they want to do. Click and I'm gone. Newbies are vulnerable, but because newbies don't connect to anything much they are relatively safe. (Protected by ignorance) It's people making the transition from Newbie to Advanced User who are at risk. Once again, you need to connect to people, that's how you learn, but take it slowly, link to people you "know", build quality into your "friends" network.

People in this inner circle of "friends" are unlikely ever to be your customers. They are "close" to you, so when they ask for help, you volunteer your time. They are "members" and as the advertisement for a certain credit card says, "membership has it's privileges." Think about your own family. You don't do business with them, you "help them out."

The people you do business with are more distant. They may know about you, or not. If they care to use the social network they can quickly find out about you. Your reputation is in your small list of "friends" and in your public letters, and in what people choose to say about you. If this is positive news, your reputation will bring you potential customers. But if this is to remain a business relationship, there will remain an arm's length contact with them. They have the freedom to choose someone else, and you should have that freedom too.

My business card has a representation of an atom on it. An atom is an assembly of electrical particles. Some of them are tightly bound, and some of them are weakly bound. It's the relationships between the particles that makes each type of atom distinctive. This is one illustration of a truth Jonas Salk (polio vaccine) taught me, "Relationships are fundamental." You can see that in your own family. You can see that in your business. You can see that in a place like Iraq.

Also see my business blog.
An Open Future

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Newbie's Don't Participate - Developing Your Own Mind

Newbie's Don't Participate - Developing Your Own Mind

On the internet, you learn first by exploring. But you learn best from other people, so joining lists, groups, social networks, using IRC or Instant Messenger is helpful. When you read what others say and share what they are doing, your own skills develop. Moreover you find people who you can contact directly when you need help.

Having the confidence to find other people and the groups they join is critical. If you don't have that confidence ask for help from someone who knows the internet well. You can find public groups at Yahoo, at Google and at Topica. Most of these groups are fairly inactive. On the other hand some are very well established with large memberships and lots of daily mail. Go to Yahoo, Google or Topica and do your own search. Some of the very best "professional" groups are not offered in that way. They may be hosted by a university or a community or professional association. You may need to contact your own professional association or your friends to find out about them. Membership may be restricted, but membership is usually free to those who qualify.

You build your own mind. What your read, and what you choose to be interested in slowly changes who you are and determines who you are becoming. It's simple really, what you choose to think about and what you choose to pay attention too becomes the future you. Choose wisely. You need to read more than you write. You need to write, even just for yourself, because the discipline of writing forces you to think clearly. You need to talk about your thinking both informally and if you can in a formal way. Each process is a step in building your own ability to think clearly about the things that interest you. You build your own expertise; or perhaps you neglect to build any expertise. It's entirely a choice you make.

A whole new stage in your on-line life when you choose to write your own letters to public lists, when you become active in a social network, or when you open your own web site. That's putting yourself out there. You may lack the confidence now, but one day you too will be helping to create content on the internet.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Newbie's Don't Participate - Find People

Newbie's Don't Participate - Your Own View Inline

If you are new to the internet you may be very content to use it like a big library and to download lots of "stuff". But this is just the first stage of learning about the internet, like a child learning first the crawl about the house and later to run about the house. That child mostly makes a mess rather than being able to maintain the house.

Too many people limit their internet use to a few personal email's and the occasional search engine question. This is a huge waste of an internet connection. If you ask me what the internet is good for I'll respond like this. "On the internet you'll find lots of people who share your view of the world that you never knew existed. You will have your views confirmed and reinforced. But you will also meet people who challenge your view, and from those people you can learn a lot. Even if you agree not to agree, your own understanding is improved when you can see things from another person's perspective. Your task is to find these people. Sadly most newbies have no idea about how to begin.

On the internet, you learn first by exploring. You learn best from other people, so joining lists, groups, social networks, using IRC or Instant Messenger is helpful. When you read what others say and share what they are doing, your own skills develop. Moreover you find people who you can contact directly when you need help. Today the development of social networks is making the task of finding the right people easier.

It's a whole new stage in your on-line life when you choose to write your own letters to lists, when you become active in a social network, or when you open your own web site. Now instead of using the internet you are taking the logical next step and building a little of it yourself.

Some people wonder if the content exists to support faster internet connections. I have no fear. I am building that content. You will also build content. When we are all internet literate, building content will be as natural as picking up a telephone. There will be no shortage of content to share.

Newbies tend not to participate online because they lack contacts with people. The internet is far more than access to a vast library. Even more importantly it's a connection to a wide group of people across the world who share things in common with you and who you have chosen to associate with. (Or perhaps they have chosen you.) It takes a bit of confidence to get started, but once you have begun there will be no desire to turn back.