Three Months Already!
by Gilles d'Aymery

August 05, 1996

Before Swans published its very first article on May 1, 1996, I requested a simple commitment from the initial members of the flock: Write an article once a week for three months. Then, I said, we will assess the situation and commit again or not, accordingly. Three months have gone by -- it looks like yesterday. Four out of the five members kept their commitment -- a 75% success rate. A pretty amazing ratio coming from individuals who are not professional writers, have their own life and many other engagements...

To Frank, and Jan, and Milo, I say: Thank you. Without the three of you, Swans would already be dead and buried. Not only would Swans be buried, it would not be without you. You are Swans. Again, thank you.

Yet in three months we have not had much success in bringing people to contribute. I have spent countless hours to convince friends and acquaintances to write and publish for Swans. People such as Agnes, Erin, Gaile, Geetha, Hiro, Jean Francois, Kevin and his son Patrick, Kurt, three Nancy's, Neil, Tom in Italy, Tom here, Tom there, and many, many more... None of them, out of politeness I suppose, said no. None of them produced anything, either. When I started to put some gentle pressure on them, I only got the famous "lack of time" excuse. A very frustrating and disappointing experience indeed...

Nor have we gotten much feedback during this period. A few "Netters" sent a comment by e-mail or through our comments form. One was about the Rock band, "Swans", a band I had never heard from... Another was about HTML scripting; and one was about the French writer Romain Gary, whom I had mentioned in an essay. The mailer had found the link thanks to Alta Vista, the Digital on-line search engine. Once offered to contribute, they all disappeared!

And finally, we have had very few readers. In average, the site has been "hit", to use the Web lingua franca, eight to ten times a day. Though more than twice as much as other sites I know -- or created, this is a poor result, to say the least.

Frustration and disappointment do not describe properly the emotions I have been feeling...

But my personal feelings cannot hide the facts. In a world of "what is in it for me", we have offered very little. And we have not focused enough on Swans' purpose. Since I cannot presently afford to offer any financial incentives to a potential contributor I need to offer some intangibles, such as, bottom line, "you'll be read".

The next question is: How do you have enough people read in order to convince other people to write? Answer: Catch-22!

Yet, since I know for a fact that I do not have Ross Perot's deep pockets I can only endeavor to have potential writers be read. And to do so, Swans needs more focus. Therefore, do not be surprised when you see a totally revamped page where the eyes will be kept on the prize! Less focus on the friends and acquaintances and more on the world at large!

Meantime, to Frank, Jan and Milo, I say thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I hope you will continue to be part of Swans for the next three months... One day at a time...

To all of you, the 8-10 of you out there, look for Beta II. And remember, beside all the drawbacks, for a full three months, a lot of interesting and diverse subjects have been visited on Swans!

Keep reading.

Published August 05, 1996
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