The cafe: a case study
Advantages of a personal Web site
Just as an author might write a book for the above mentioned non financial reasons, so an individual or a company might create a Web site.
Taking a macro view of the information environment there is the glaring problem of establishing an identity and creating relationships based upon trust. This was covered to some extent in chapter 12 where it was suggested that trust in the environment of the Internet is best thought of in terms of risk and probabilities within a Game Theory framework.
Even though this may seem logical, it doesn't dispel the notion that such a basis of trust cannot entirely replace the conventional understanding of trust - which is a mixture of tangible evidence and intangible emotion. As trust is important to any kind of business association, it is worth looking at it in further detail.
The areas where trust will be an essential consideration would include:
1) An investor investing in a project
2) A funding organisation providing money to explore an idea
3) A venture capital body sponsoring an entrepreneur
4) Any form of loan arrangement
5) An entrepreneur hiring an auteur or solution provider
6) Prime movers engaging the services of sub contractors
7) Sub contractors taking on work
8) Freelancers working in collaboration
9) Firms hiring employees
10) Employees accepting positions
11) Any kind of partnership or profit sharing scheme
12) Acceptance of advice or information
These are just some of the many situations that arise in the course of regular business activity that require a strong element of trust present before they can take place. This is about credibility.
Unless a person is known to you by universal reputation or through trusted referral, how can you have any means of judging whether or not a person is who they say they are? How can you ascertain whether or not they are trustworthy, reliable, honest, competent, etcetera?
If you visit somebody in their office or place of work there is much visual evidence that can lend credence to what they have to say. This may not be in any tangible form, but, it makes a great deal of difference as to the credibility you give to whatever they have to say. This contrasts sharply with the credibility you might give to that same person if you only dealt with them by telephone.
It may seem that the Internet suffers from the same handicap as the telephone in that there is no visual communication. However, this is not only untrue, it misses the whole significance of the Web. A Web site can provide the vital ingredient necessary for engendering trust and credibility. It can provide the same kind of effect that a visual appearance provides in the world of bricks and mortar.
When you see your next door neighbour, you can make many subjective judgements as to their personality and character: by the way they dress, the friends they have, the car they drive the job they have. All these clues provide a background to any conversation you might have with them. If you visit them in their house you might look at their bookshelves to see what books they read and if they invite you to their place of work you will gather all kinds of information that will build on the mental picture you have of them.
In a similar way, just such information can be available on a person's Web site. It may have a photograph of them. It might give an indication of their interests, hobbies and professional activities. All kinds of tangible and intangible clues might be gleaned from a person's Web site - sufficient to give much depth and substance to any communications or business dealings you might have with them. It is this background information that promotes meaningful and valuable communication links, providing strong foundations for partnerships and co-operation.
Many companies get the idea of a Web site completely wrong. They look at it simply as an advertising medium or a place to do business. They seldom view a Web site as the reflection of their company's heart and basic philosophy. Yet, in the world of the Internet this is their image on to the world of the Internet and if it reflects only an obvious push for sales this image will be cheapened.
Many experts and specialists have realised the value of a Web site for establishing an on-line identity. Some of them spend years creating a useful information source, or, a library of free downloadable software, music or illustrations. This is not just an act of altruism, these efforts result in an indication that they are competent in their field and are willing to share knowledge freely. Isn't this just the kind of person one would want to collaborate with?
In this way, a Web site can do for any individual what a published book can do for an author. It isn't necessarily about money and reward. It is about establishing an identity.