Just some thoughts

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Dale your cyber party could end the end result in my scenario... a "clearing house" of sorts where people with questions or a need for services could be put directly in touch with someone actually in the area in question ~ such as Amsterdam.

Just see a website as the oldfashioned telephone exchange. A website alone is nothing...The format...digest or e-mail is irelevant in this proces.

A. if you offer the freedom of choice, you get more people to participate. (the buletinboard I put up for you allows people to receive e-mail alerts on specific topics, Uninteresting issues therefore do not block mail boxes.It also automatically builds you an archive and it creates searchable Q @ A system, so you can reduce the number of repeat e-mails The beauty is nobdy even realizes this...it simply is there... and it is free of choice, exept for the costs of hosting the system, which is next to nothing, if each member contributes. For the moment it is hosted at MIT in Massechusets. If you type in this URL you will find the rest of system:

http://www.arsdigita.com/home/ just log in....

This system is also used by http://www.worldbank.org, Siemens, and other major organisations. You don't need all the functionality now, but you will once PTAN grows. All it takes is a nerd to maintain it.The system is free of charge!!! This is my personal; favourite, but maybe the LSM people come up with better alternatives.

Setting up what you want to do is just about the most dificult thing in world. The people in LostMates, are veterans in this field, and have been involved in developping communities for years, written books about it, or are initiator of leading comunities. We have experienced the shortcomings, and the raise and fall of great environments. You'll find some interesting food foor thought on http://www.cluetrain.com. What LSM is trying to become is the place where you can find answers.

If PTAN becomes a success, this is most likely the nightmare you are facing...http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lostsoulmates/message/724

Have you noticed...

1. Each question that is ever asked on the digest is beeing asked again, 2 months later.

2. Valuable time is lost because the digest is only send a couple of times a day? Not effective if I need an answer now. Now many people constantly check their e-mail?

3. Each question asked receives a ton of duplicate ansewers .

4. Try set your LSM settings to ... individual e-mails. It's a nightmare. I don't mind, because I made this my job, but no travel agent in his or her right mind will like the idea. Reading on a webpage is far more effective IMHO. I am running a fully paperless office this way.

5. The majority of travel agents either have no website, a useless one or a very expensive one. If you create a real networked environment that will mean members have a direct financial benefit and your succes rate is likekly to increase. Here's an example:

1. 1000 travel agents, operating an individual webspace , based on the average costs for hosting at USD 240,00 (not much per agency you may say) totals USD 240.000 anual overhead costs. (ONLY HOSTING, no interaction, no content, no database, no service, just for the privalige people on the internet can find you >>>

A community site, properly set up, from the start, with people behind it that have the TIME and Knowledge, the members don't have, can save all a fortune. But you need a proper business model from the start. Even megga community spaces, which are based on your idea, have sofar failed because of the lack of commitment and the fact there is no predefined purpose. Have a look at http://www.fastcompany.com. There are 32000 people listed, organized in local cells, and it doesn't work. Because nobody sees the benefit, and a lot of resources are wasted.

"What we're envisioning is a sort of "Cyber Cocktail Party," where our members can freely mix, mingle and share their thoughts/ideas/needs for information about all sorts of things with each other in a rather uncontrolled environment. What you're doing didn't sound like that to me ~ what am I missing here?"

>>>>> You don't need a controled environment, That is the last thing I have in mind. I believe in the freedom interenet allows us to operate. However, sharing resources to save cost, and increase revenue can be done more effectively by sharing infrastucture and using the best available tools. Call it collective baraganing or whatever.

There's a lot you can do... For example... I have NET FIT rates with Choice International. I love to share the contract with everybody, but if we have no way paying each other in a simple way, the contract is useless, and has been for the last 2 years.

My Amsterdam suggestion is just a very basic example. I can solve a local problem within seconds, but we are still wasting time using e-mail... Subscribe to http://www.firetalk.com, an agen simply click on the firtalk phone on his pc, and talks to me live, free of charge, and I can give an answer straight away. No immagine every PTAN member can communictae internaly this way .... Until today If a hotelier asks his bank in Holland to send commission of USD. 25,00 to a travel agent in the US, the reply of the bank will be.... buy cash dollars, and send them by registred mail.

Dayle this is the basic problem of the travel industry. Cooperation can solve this. If you create localized solutions solving this simple problems, call it clearing house or whatever, and have service desk in every timezone in the world...the travelagency community has a face...

There's are tons of thing we could do, but I assure you, it's not an easy thing to get people to realize that. Whatever way you look at it, if everybody keeps using difrent systems, things won't work in the way they could. It doesn't cost money, it saves mony, if poperly executed!

The bottom line...

Yes I am trying create a helpdesk, "TimeDesk"... I could also call it youmaypicmybrains.com . But I have to find a way to become selfsuporting. I have gone bankrupt twice in the process, and at the moment don't have in income ( I am on social security). I hate to see fortunes beeing wasted on initiatives that could be succesfull, but fail because of simple logistical problems. LostSoulMates is the result of my participation in many cyber discussions that failed and it consolidates the knowhow of a group of experts, sharing ideas, comparing business plans, and trying to help each oter where possible, so we don't make the same mistakes over and over. It are web designers, management consultants, trainers, writes, thinkers, you name it. None of us know what LostSoulMates will result in, but many of us have allready experienced the value of being able to send a mail when we don't know how to continue...

Internet is changing the way we work, but no one has been able to identify a way to MAKE it work.. That's the challenge I have set myself. Being just myself, with no commercial ties to any organisation, allows me say things I could never do working for a large company.

Your Cyber party is a great idea, and it can be done, I am convinced of that... but be carefull. If you don't have a proper environment that offers something the industry hasn't seen before, and a clear vision in place, you may end up shooting yourself in the foot. Everybody will doubt what you are trying to achieve.

Helen Driscoll on lSM directed me tot his site... Makes a lot of sense to me... http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lostsoulmates/message/803

Have great weekend, and boy, I whish I will have some time this year to come sailing in your neck of the woods.

Cheers Ben

-- Ben Koot (ben@travelcompass.zzn.com), February 10, 2001

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