Masthead CMC Magazine / May 1, 1996
 Lessons Learned From Becoming a Self-Publisher on the Web, by David Strom

Build a Community

[]Chaplin describes a software system for supporting Web communities.

[]Rowland proposes a metaphor of public space for cyberspace.

Community counts. If you are going to start a successful Web publishing venture, make sure you have a good idea whom your community is. By community I don't just mean reader/viewers--I mean the entire life-cycle of information consumers, providers, and relay points along the way. Who creates the information? Who sends/interprets/messes it up? Who needs this information? The more you know this cycle, the better a Web publisher you'll be. The more focussed your publication, the better off you are.

Print publishers have crude tools to measure these sorts of things: they do mail-based surveys, they have the Audit Bureau of Circulation audit their subscriber databases, they have advertisers telling them how great or lousy the response was on their last series of business response cards. These tools are crude because there is really no great link between cause (an ad or piece of editorial running on page 35) and effect (Joe PC Maven buying product mentioned on page 35), even though we in the print business like to think there is and invent all sorts of elaborate reasons to "prove" our "positions". Web publishers have even less to go on, which is one of the reasons why advertising dollars aren't yet plentiful on the Web.

Certainly this is changing, as better tools get invented to tie reader/viewers into their consequential actions. But this will take lots of time, and in the meantime I have a Web site to --run and improve.

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