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Re: TI has a lot to do?

Jun 15, 1996 11:55 AM
by Bjorn Roxendal

At 10:42 PM 6/6/96 -0400, you wrote:
>Alan ...
>	Well, for what its worth, I don't have very much $$$, and even
>less time, but I can write HTML code, and certainly could write the
>script needed to create & link a set of TI pages ... and if a project was
>made out of it, perhaps a number of us could contact other philosophical
>& spiritual organizations with Web pages & trade links (i.e., we put
>links to their organizations on one of our pages, and they put a link to
>ours on theirs - quite a common thing on the Web).

Well, JRC, perhaps you are the right man for preparing the theosophy FAQ
(Key to Theosophy) for the web. Would you be willing to make a HTML document
of it? And then it could be put up and linking here ande there, back and
forth could be developed.

>	Last time I checked, to register a domain name was somewhere
>around $500.00 US (i.e., to have an address that actually reads something
>like <> instead of piggybacking
>on another - e.g. <http://www.jrcecon.selway.umt/Theosophy_Intl/TI.html>.
>I'm not sure, however, that the cost is worth the benefits - as if the
>page is linked right ... it won't really lead to very many additional visits.

I agree. THis is my experience, too. THe URL name doesn't mean that much to
the traffic.

>	The other possibility is ... if some kind TI member checked with
>their service provider - I know that some services *include* Web space as
>part of what a person gets when they sign up ... usually around 5 megs of
>memory space (far more than enough if the pages aren't graphic-intensive)

You could fit MANY BOOKS on 5 Megs, as long as it were primarily text.

>.. so we may actually already have some members who could host the TI
>pages with no additional cost.

Have any voluteers come forward?

>	Before even really beginning such an endeavor, however, there is
>a deeper issue to take up: What is out *intent* in putting the time and
>energy into "TI Web"? What, *specifically*, do we hope to accomplish? Who
do we want to reach? What do we wish them to do when we reach them? *Who*
>will answer questions, and how will they be answered ...

While I agree that these questions are EXTREMELY important, and could help
us define a much more active and successful organization than the present, I
think it would be QUITE unwise to delay the start of the web project till
after these discussions have been held. They could easily take forever
without even leading to any workable consensus. The solution, as I see it,
is for a few dedicated people to start publishing valuable teachings right
away, even while the discussions about the above metnioned questions are
getting started.

 the members are
>all people who, for the most part, have had siginificant involvement with
>one or more theosophical organizations over the years - what happens when
>a newcomer - who may have only vaguely heard of theosophy, *asks* "What
>is TI?"? What do we say? "Well, you sign up!" Okay. Now what? Well,
>that's pretty much it (-:). Do we encourage people to do things? Read
>literature? *Which* literature? Do we encourage them to join theos-l?
>Tell them about the formal organizations? Which ones? How do we present

The people who are actively involved in web publishing would decide about
the direction. This does not have to be once and for all and set in stone
before work begins. The questions ARE important but can be taken on step by
step, in a dialictic process with the experience gathered from actually

>	We must also remember that the Web requires a very specific sort
>of presentation to be successful - think of it as the computing version
>of "channel - surfing" on a TV. *Most* who cruise the Web visit dozeens
>of sites every time they log on. It is most assuredly *not* a place for
>long, ornate philosophical statements (tho' I suppose one could create
>links to such things) at least in the initial pages.

That's right. The welcome pages have to be pretty flashy, but there is
nothing wrong with making all kinds of literature available as links.

I mean ... we don't
>just want say "ooohhh, cool! Look! We have a Web page! - with the end
>result that we feel quite pleased with ourselves, but neglect to notice
>that hardly anyone visits it, those who visit quickly move on when faced
>with five pages of nothing but dense text, and the few who do make it
>through find they have no idea what to do once they've finished.

Very good points. Again, we will learn by doing but should take as much of
your advice as possible into consideration from the beginning.

>	Having worked with several non-profits in the creation of Web
>pages ... I've found it to be a *very* interesting process ... to be
>effective, the process *forces* the organization to clarify (often for
>the first time) exactly *what* face they want to present to the world at
>large - in a sense it is a form of "magic", as it is really nothing less
>than the *delibrate construction of a personality*. And that means
>everything must be taken into account: The page must be lively, with a
>reasonable balance between text and graphics; the text must be conscise,
>powerful, but written in approximately a high-school level of vocabulary
>(e.g., words like "Avalokiteswara" probably won't help the cause tee
>hee). We would want the pages to carry spiritual, intellectual, and
>emotional content, and have a pleasing physical appearance as well.

Great! You obvioulsy have valuable experience in creating this type of
pages. Let's start with some ideas for a welcome page, that will link to the
"FAQ" as well as to some other materials.

>	(Sorry to be babbling here, and I must go `cause I'm *really*
>busy just now, but just thought I'd throw in my two cents as I just spent
>the last week writing a Web page for a group, and it's kinda on my mind
>right now.

Thank you SO MUCH for contributing. Your two cents are worth more than many
hundreds of cents of hair splitting!

 A TI Web page would be great, but we would really need to make
>a *project* of it if we want it to serve a *purpose* beyond simply having
>it ... something that many organizations never grasp. There is a lot of
>just outright *hype* about the Web, but just putting a page on doesn't
>mean anything. For instance (and this is not to say anything against Rudy
>who I kinda like) we already have Rudy's page ... but has anyone other us
>even visited it?

I have also been involved in designeing web pages, both commercial and
nonprofit. I find it quite easy to generate traffic and make contact with
people through this medium. A nice direct welcome page, email link to
somebody to TALK TO, links to pages with CONTENT, publish through all major
search engines, and PRESTO, there you are! Add a counter, to monitor
traffic, both to the welcome page and to the content pages.

Look at the scientology pages for a good example of how this can be taken to
the extreme. Through its web pages, Scientology projects the image of being
a very competent body of people, with all kinds of abilities, strongly
attracting many netizens who also are intelligent and technical people.
(Believe me, I am NOT endorsing Scientology).

Has, in short, *anything* come of it save TI visiting it
>once and saying "gee that's nice"? I don't mean to sound overly harsh
>here, but a failing that has plagued theosophical organizations for quite
>some time is that they continually start projects (often committing
>substantial resources to them) without ever even bothering to define what
>they want to accomplish, and in the rare cases where desired outcomes are
>vaguely defined, never check to see whether the outcomes have been
>accomplished - and I'd hate to see TI fall prey to that trait).

There should be a neverending feedback process, enabling a spiraling
evolution of the web effort, just as this process applies to life itself.

Thanks again, JRC, let's get going!


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