The Magic of Open Source & Linux

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8000 New Internet Publishers in 1995

copyright 2006, Rex Ballard

Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
From: "Rex Ballard" 
Date: 31 Jul 2006 13:21:13 -0700
Local: Mon, Jul 31 2006 3:21 pm
Subject: Re: Rex Ballard: Mr. 8000
DFS wrote:
> Rex Ballard wrote:
> > DFS wrote:

"I told the publishers about Linux and showed them how they could set up a dedicated PPP link to a local internet service provider and publish their content via the Web, for under $1000. Suddenly there were about 8000 web servers on the internet, mostly powered by Linux."

That would have been very early 1994, probably about March or April. Dow Jones had just put up their web server, on a Sun box. I had just purchased a Walnut Creek CD-ROM set with several versions of Linux, including a version of Slackware which included the CERN server and Mosaic browser.

> > I should probably have said 8000 new servers.

> The important thing is this: not long after you posted something online,
> 8000 new Linux servers were rolled out, thanks to your post.

Try rereading that section you originally quoted. It wasn't ONE post, it was 5-6 posts per day for 3-4 months. Answering questions in a mailing list in which all of the subscribers were technicians working for newspaper publishers. We also had some BBS operators, some internet hosting operators (like BBN), and some carriers (like Sprint, MCI, and AT&T). There were also some dial-up services, like Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL.

It was a group of dedicated professionals interested in on-line publishing. Most of them had very small budgets. In some cases, the parent company let them form spin-off companies, like ZD-Net.

My contributions carried a bit more weight because Brewster Kahle, of WAIS inc, was going on national talk shows, talking about the WWW, and giving the URL to the Dow Jones site. I happened to be working for Dow Jones, and everybody knew it.

> It's magic!

No, it's the magic of COMMUNICATION, LOTS of communication. Treating others with respect, honoring their questions, and seeking to provide useful information in a form they could understand. Providing them with the kind of information they could take back to their business leaders, to help support them in deciding to publish on the web.

I spent nearly 5 years on those mailing lists, and often spent 2-3 hours in the wee hours of the morning or an hour during lunch break, communicating an a manner that inspired, motivated, and encouraged the subscribers to take specific actions to produce an intended result.

Taking theater and theater management courses in college helped me to learn to motivate a number of different kinds of people with different agendas and needs. Taking business as a minor, and having an accountant for a father helped me to communicate in terms of business and economic opportunities. Taking leadership training programs including Dale Carnagie, Tony Robbins, Ernest Nightingale, and Landmark Education helped me to communicate in a way that inspired others into action.

It's that combination of being a "people person" and a "hard core techie" that makes it possible for me to communicate effectively in a manner that causes others to take actions which are in their own best interests.