Incredible Ladies evolving – A leap into the future

27 August 2009


Since I have been working for our new Incredible Ladies site I have been mulling over what makes people happy. One can’t create a site without knowing what it is that makes visitors feel comfi. Well, one can – but nobody would stay, come back and definitely nobody would recommend.


Why change anyway?

Our recent IL site is not doing too bad, but not really good either. We are on a slow but constant ‘up’ in regard to visitors and hits. However, taking into account that all one can do is a bit of reading, one can assume that we won’t reach the threshold that all of a sudden makes a site kick off.  We have a few constant friends, but a lot of people forget, don’t have time and then forget, or just get bored because their favourite subject is not catered for on a weekly basis. The subjects life throws at us are manifold and hence I am hopping through the topics like a bunny through the vegetable garden - whichever experience leaves the biggest impression during a week is getting covered.

So instead of evolving into a vibrant site to which people contribute and use for their own benefit, IL has become a ‘Rika blog’ without feedback facility.

Don’t get me wrong, I like doing my weekly edition, but the question is not whether or not I like it! Visitors need to like it, and to be a successful site, a lot of visitors need to do so. So, we could go on like this forever, or we actually could try and make it the site what it was intended to be when I started out: A playground for you guys, the place where you can try out stuff, voice your opinions, get and give inspiration.

So! How to do that?

Firstly by asking the right questions, like: ‘What did we do well? and ‘What do we have to do better?’


What we did well!

We need to find out about the things people like and we have to stick with those. I know that a lot of our trusty friends like the homey feel of the site. It’s not very glossy, and hence it is not intimidating. I try to be straightforward in my language and the subjects I am addressing and some people used the word ‘honest’ to describe it.

That is something I am very proud of. I guess one of the most important needs for people is safety, and honesty induces that. One wants to be surrounded by people one can trust and is being trusted by. That actually was one of the reasons why IL is so simple and doesn’t have any interactive features like the comments boxes we know from blogs. Not allowing people to write whatever comes to their minds prevents them from writing offensive stuff.


What we need to do better!

Unfortunately this is preventing people from contributing good stuff as well. In order to make this approach absolutely safe I would have to monitor every single word that comes in and edit accordingly. That is just not practical and basically censorship, raising the question:

How to be homey and cosmopolite at the same time?


Learning from history

This is the crux in life: Nothing is black & white, but everything comes in all colours and shades. If we want to have it colourful then we will have to live with the dark side as well, at least to an extent. Some claim that the internet is the breeding ground for criminal and offensive activity. I think we can agree that the feeling of safety and trust is difficult to create in the internet, but is the dark side really so much more active in the internet than in the real world? And so I wondered how things went when other technologies were introduced into the mainstream. There must have been hiccups as well, surely!


Old VS New

A few hundred years ago working people would hardly ever leave the block of streets they were born in. Literacy gave the first bit of freedom, then telephone and trains and later cars and airplanes and not to forget television enabled people to explore the world there is, while steam engines transformed the business world entirely bringing us into the industrial era.

All these things had and have opponents claiming they were created by evil spirits. Well, the above are either enabling people to see for themselves and make up their own minds, or give a means for creating wealth, and not just for the upper classes. People with a free spirit who are building their own opinion and are able to put their fiscal foot down are hard to control, and there are always the ones who have gained their freedom and wealth using the old system – of course they don’t like the competition. As long as they are still in power they would do anything to stop the new world from happening.  


Acceptance and code of conduct

Imagine how the first people to listen into a receiver of a telephone must have felt: a weird device to handle and then somebody is speaking from afar. It must have needed some time to adjust our brains to understand that these are real people talking. I would think that this was a rather virtual experience back then. Radio and television might not have had a much different impact, although by then people would already have been accustomed to new technologies.

Additionally with every new technology new codes of conduct need to evolve. Like etiquette has evolved over time when meeting people or writing a letter, all of a sudden one has to find a new one when speaking on the phone. One has to understand that the other side doesn’t know who is calling, so one needs to introduce oneself first before starting to talk. It seems that until these days some of us haven’t grasped this concept, still answering the phone saying ‘Hello’. Duh?!? I am not telepathic: Did I misdial, is it your mum or daughter, or am I about to tell your husband your deepest secret?

Not to worry, though! Since the people who make money with a technology need acceptance from the potential buyers they will proceed developing the technology further until it does the trick. These days the telephone tells you who is calling.

Truth is: These technologies survived! They all turned out to be too useful to be discarded on grounds of danger to society.


A Metaphor

See, introducing a new technology is a bit like filling a bucket with water; the technology being the water and the security being the bucket. Well and then there is the old establishment, let’s call them bucket keepers. They want to keeps things watertight at all cost or better: not to pour water at all. They claim they are only protecting society from damage but usually they have their own assets in mind.

However, there are always scientists and free spirits who just do what they think is right and start pouring, sometimes the bucket is not big or sturdy enough, but it gets fixed until the water sits there calmly, and people can use it safely. Once in a while it gets shaken and even breaks a bit, like when the Twin Towers fell, and then it will get fixed again. See, society could have abandoned airplanes altogether, but they didn’t; this technology has become much too valuable, so they only fixed the rules by which we fly.

Books, telephones, airplanes,… all established ‘old’ technologies which made it!


How young is the internet – and why does that matter?

This will turn out to be a very important question!

In regard to the internet being a new technology: At which point in time of the process are we? Has the Internet water already settled in its bucket?

The answer is a big ‘NO!’

Although the internet is sneaking into our lives wherever we look… this is a feature of the technology and not a sign of its age.

The internet is a baby compared to other established technologies which had a similar effect on people’s lives. See, I am 48 now, that is in 2009, and during the first half of my life there was no internet. And when it started, it started slowly only kicking off during the last 15 years or so.


One can assume that the first decade of the internet went silently past the mainstream until computers and faster network access became available and affordable. That means that people who don’t know a world without the internet are not older than 20 years old.


Since children are using naturally what they see being used in their homes, one can even assume that people to whom the internet comes natural are only around 15 years old; they are not even in the work process. The rest of us are either the ones who invented it, are fascinated by it and hence caught up quickly, or are just gave up and hoping to survive in the jungle of new devices and services, the latter probably being the biggest group.

Metaphorically speaking: We are at a stage where the water is still pouring into the bucket, and the bucket keepers are scared that their bucket might not hold. They don’t fully understand the internet. They don’t know what sort of bucket they will need so they are aiming for the biggest, strongest they can find; just that nobody would be able to reach the rim to drink from it. However, with openness being the very essence of the internet they will not get away with this approach. Over the generations the technology will develop, a code of conduct will emerge and the water will calm.


How accepted is the internet?

I suppose one will get as many answers as one might ask people. People working with the internet – me included – tend to forget the fact that for most of the population it doesn’t come natural. We sometimes create sites and services because ‘we can’, and not because it makes sense. And of course we would claim that the internet is an accepted medium – because we would like it to be!

For others it might be just a nuisance one has to live with.

Well, the biggest disadvantage of the internet is that it is not tactile. A car we can touch, we see where it goes; the speed might be scary but it is comprehensible. The internet compares more to the telephone: It is vague and virtual. Imagine the old days again: One could hear, but was it an imposter calling?

On the internet: One can see, but not really; it’s only a picture on a screen. That could be anything. Look into the murky waters of a pond: That round thing down there could be a bracelet as well as an eel. Who would reach to find out?

Well and the scaremongering of the bucket keepers is not helping either.


Real world VS. Virtual world – or is it?

Luckily the ones who create this web are smart people and see the needs. They are a huge, world wide community and love it like their baby. They are starting to talk the language of normal people to enhance acceptance. Some of them are powerful and they are negotiating the code of conducts with the bucket keepers.

So we are back to the question if crime and offensive behaviour is more common in the internet than in the real world. Well, I would say: No! It is just different!

Given that the internet is a young technology and criminals take an active roll while the defenders – well, it’s in the meaning of the word – are re-active, there are stories about the dark side of the internet which make prime time news. Although an astounding amount of those show the defenders of the old system blaming innovative internet newcomers to illegally tap into their established markets. This will all go away over time once the new rules are established and people who know the world without an internet will have died out.

Already today the internet has changed our lives quite a bit, so that the question is not ‘real VS virtual’ anymore. Like all the other technologies which have blended into our daily lives, the internet is on its way from a virtual technology to a real world feature.


Did we learn something?

Well, we now know that the internet is young and hasn’t reached its full potential yet. Innovation and creativity are asked for, and there are still opportunities to be seized: We shouldn’t let them slip away.

We will have to acknowledge, though that it will not be an easy ride straight away, that we will have to find and close loopholes against offenders, and that everybody will have to play a role in keeping up good manners.

And we have established what we want:

  • honesty and trust, and no scaremongering,
    • that means information which enables us to make our own choices and
    • a sensible code of conduct
  • services which add value to our lives,
    • that means being able to do things easier/faster than with using conventional methods and
    • being able to do things we couldn’t do before
  • something that is tactile, where we feel at home, find things, …
    • that means an appealing layout and intuitive handling, and
    • a friendly support

So I am proposing to create a community which will constitute an example; a glimpse into a future when people of my age will have died out and the waters will have calmed.


Let’s DO it!

From Old to New IL
Planning the Future

1st Step of the Leap
A leap into the future
Another year gone by
The First Year
The Dream

Back to Top
Copyright 2007
Author: Rika