Interview with Ron Wilson - Part 3
[IB] On your web site and in your communications, it becomes immediately apparent that you have great respect for the written word. How did that evolve for you?
[RW] Communication has always been important to me. I grew up with a speech impediment and was always self-conscious about how I sounded when I spoke to other people. While I was working to overcome that, I ended up majoring in English and speech in college, then later went into broadcasting and finally commercial narration. I discovered that the more effectively I spoke and wrote, the more people would take me seriously. The whole idea, the whole point of language, though, is to communicate. And in my estimation simple is best. There is no substitute for plain, correctly spelled English.
[IB] Quite frequently the quality of language can be the make-or-break difference between a highly successful online presence and one that struggles to survive. We've all seen the masterfully artistic sites combined with 3rd grade grammar and spelling, or the businesses with a superb marketing concept that can't get their message across. Is online communication something an individual or group can improve overnight? How can we get started with the process?
[RW] I think a little less time worrying about stellar graphics on a site and a little more time worrying about grammar and spelling would be a good start. True, everybody "knows what I mean," but language errors are an interruption, a distraction. Moreover, when you spot one error you subconsciously look for others. Credibility is the first casualty of errors. When I review a site and come across: "If your interested" and "thier" and "i" all on the first page, I close my notebook and leave.
No, there's no overnight solution. My greatest word of advice to those who desire to improve in this area is this: read what you write. Simplistic as it sounds, most people don't do it. As Sherlock Holmes said: "They see but they do not observe." Some believe that if there are mistakes, somehow they'll go unnoticed. I understand that not everyone can be an English major, but frankly there's no excuse for spelling errors in this day and age. Even HTML editors have spell checkers. Grammar is another thing. Read what you've written out loud. The ear is a good censor. If it doesn't sound quite right, change it. Again, simple is best. Clarity is far more dazzling than profundity.
[IB] Internet Brothers has had a modicum of success with the idea of "reaching out and shaking hands" with the cybercommunity. We know you are also a proponent of that philosophy. Can you describe for our readers the advantages derived from community building, from online partnerships?
[RW] I'm always amused at the number of "handles" on the Internet. It's as if we've become a society of secret agents and the most dire development to confront us would be for the world to somehow discover our real names. Despite the bad press lately, cyberspace is populated by any number of remarkable individuals folks well worth knowing. And, not surprising, they aren't named "Red Dog" or "Boo-Boo" they have names like Tom Speer and Jeff Clark. The miracle of the World Wide Web is that for the first time in human history we don't have to live in the same country, the same region, or even the same city to cultivate and enjoy highly meaningful relationships with exceptional people. The beautiful thing I find about e-mail is that it all looks the same in your browser window. A message from Steve Jobs doesn't look any more impressive than that "Earn a Thousand Dollars a Week at Home!" message cowering under your delete button. Instead of the six-gun, the World Wide Web has become the great equalizer. The advantages of community building and online partnerships are only limited by our ability to envision them.
[IB] Adjunct to developing these net relationships comes the possibility of collaboration. Do you have any favorites out there you would perhaps like to do some work with in the future?
I've enjoyed collaborating with Tom Speer at Fortress Web Design on several recent projects, and would certainly welcome the chance to include Internet Brothers in future plans. I have also been impressed with Don Chisholm at Website Awards and Wally Gross at Surfers Choice, both of whom are in the forefront of many Internet innovations. Ken Lanxner at Lives, the Biography Resource would be another candidate for collaboration. The good guys are out there, if we'll look for them.
[IB] Where do you want to take Outspan?
Basically, I see Outspan continuing to serve two purposes: adding new resources to the Internet community's resource pool, and also serving as an additional example of the "reaching out and shaking hands" you describe. Example is the best teacher for that, I do believe. No doubt the World Wide Web itself will chart the course for me beyond this point, as it has in the past.
[IB] Is it true you have a best-seller just sitting on your hard drive?
Okay, that's enough about me, Jeff. Now let's talk about my book....
[IB] Thanks Ron. We know from experience that anything you undertake is guaranteed to be highly successful. For our readers out there, if you wish to thank Ron for his time and effort in this interview, please visit Outspan, and tell him the Internet Brothers sent you.
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"My greatest word of advice to those who desire to improve in this area is this: read what you write."
"The miracle of the World Wide Web is that for the first time in human history we don't have to live in the same country, the same region, or even the same city to cultivate and enjoy highly meaningful relationships with exceptional people."
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