Below are excerpts from my first public attempt (in August 1998) to answer the question, "What is Worldbridges?". This was sent as an email to a few dozen of my friends and interested parties. I wince a bit when I read this - combination of seeing my naivete and lack of adequate organization in print along with realizing how short this first arrow fell. Still, the Worldbridges vision hasn't changed that much since I wrote this from Hello Internet Cafe in Bangkok.
So, here it is - my first real attempt to answer the ever-daunting question "What is Worldbridges?". There is still a LOT of fine tuning and idea evolution needed and I very much welcome your feedback, ideas, suggestions, questions, and even your skepticism. So that everyone I've sent this to can share in the feedback/tuning process, I set up a discussion board at:...
Alright, here goes.
I. What is Worldbridges?
II. Stage 1 - The Travelbridges Plan
III Investment Information
WHAT IS WORLDBRIDGES?
* An Organization dedicated to helping citizens of the world
better understand each other and get along.
* A Company dedicated to the fairest possible compensation to those who help build it and maximum value for those who use its services and purchase its products.
* A Network of internet sites dedicated to the efficient and innovative use of technology to inform, educate, and entertain its visitors.
The world is a mosaic of different cultures, languages, perspectives, food, etc. These differences can be a source of wonder and a source of conflict. Worldbridges is a place to explore and appreciate the assortment of life's flavors and expericences. It is also a forum where different viewpoints can be openly presented and discussed in a hopes of reducing the personal animosity too often present amongst those from
different backgrounds. Nothing too preachy or dogmatic - just engaging presentations and interactions in which civility is encouraged and common ground acknowledged.
The concept of world citizenship is close to the heart of Worldbridges. We are all residents of the same planet and as such share the common interests (and responsibilities) of protecting the global environment and working toward a harmonious global society.
Worldbridges will have two primary sources of revenue - online advertising and product sales. The basic model for distribution of earnings will go something like this:
50% to content creators/producers (those who take the photos, make the videos and do the work of getting them online)
30% to those who produce, distribute, and promote a product
(mostly Books, CD-Roms, & Videos)
10% to the shareholders in the form of dividends
10% to the Worldbridges Building Fund
70% to the site managers (management teams)
20% to the Worldbridges Online Operations Team
10% to the Worldbridges Building Fund
These are rough guesses at appropriate percentages and the numbers may have to vary in order to cover operating expenses. Still, the commitment to maximize earnings for those who actually do the work (creating the content and products, and maintaining the sites) will remain. Of course for this system to work, accounting will need to be meticulous and public.
The ownership of the company should also evolve in a way to reflect the global nature of the company. Although Worldbridges LLC is registered in the US and the initial stock offering is being made to a predominantly American group, I don't want this to be an American-centric/'made in the USA' kind of company. This is
partially why shareholding is currently limited to 1% of the company. After the initial offering, another block of shares will be distributed as compensation for site managers and as prizes for outstanding content producers.
The purpose of the building fund is to provide assistance to those who wish to participate in bridge building, but don't have the financial or material resources to do so. Some kind of advisory board will need to be formed, most likely from a combination of shareholders and site managers.
There are no doubt a lot of legal and logistic hurdles to clear in order to create this kind of company structure, so some of these mechanisms may not be officially set up right away. Still, we will adhere these basic values as much as possible from the start.
THE NETWORK OF SITES
The internet is increasingly becoming a broadcast medium. With a standard modem, it is now possible to listen to streaming audio while simultaneously viewing a series of photos. It is also possible to view small, relatively low quality videos. There are hundreds of radio and TV stations who have put their broadcasts online, but there has been very little use of this technology by
individuals who produce their own audio and video. Worldbridges will do so, in effect creating a 'people's network'. Everything from travelers' narrated slideshows to teachers' online lessons to someone's video coverage of a news event that just so happens to be occurring around the corner. These kinds of materials have the addes benifit of producing materials well suited to publishing on CD-Rom and video.
As connection speeds continue to increase, the internet and television will essentially merge. I can foresee a time ( in the not so distant future) when Worldbridges features hundreds of regular broadcasts.
This Week on Worldbridges:
* Tia Maria's weekly Mexican cooking show on Foodbridge
* Sandrine's coverage of Milan's spring shows on Fashionbridge
* The Kimchee Girls live concert from Seoul on Musicbridge
So far, 33 domain names have been purchased. As interest and funds
permit, additional names can be reserved (currently selling for
$35/year). Names purchased thusfar:
bestof98 familybridge teacherbridge artbridge
musicbridge sportsbridge sexbridge
celticbridge americanbridges africanbridges
asianbridges foodbridge schoolbridge indiabridge
moviebridge travelbridges newsbridge photobridge
timebridges gamebridge fashionbridge worldbridges
II. Stage 1 - The Travelbridges Plan
The first site to begin building is Travelbridges (travelbridges.com). I plan to spend at least the first three weeks of September based on KhaoSan Road in Bangkok. KhaoSan Road is one of the largest hubs of backpacker activity in the world. People from all over pass through on there way to
somewhere else or to take a break from the rigors of budget travel and enjoy a vegetable burger while watching bootleg copies of the latest Western movies.
During this time, I plan to set up the basic infrastructure of the site (including as many self posting travel info boards as possible), upload an online exhibition of travel writing, photos, and videos, and 'get the word' out in a big way that Travelbridges is the place to read and share the latest info and publish your creative works. I also hope to find enough people willing to share
the burden and profits of maintaining the site.
SITE INFRASTRUCTURE - TRAVEL INFO BOARDS
In the beginning posting categories will be rather general (i.e.
Vistors can post information about the accomadations, food, sites, etc.
As data accumulates, additional categories will be added and information will be sorted into appropriate topics in each section ( i.e. travelbridges.com/Thailand/KohTao/Accomadations,
travelbridges.com/India/Rishkesh/Yoga ) Each section will need a technical manager and an editor (possibly the same person) to sort through the postings, compile the most useful into an online guide and probably delete nasty/inappropriate postings that will no doubt appear. They can also produce multimedia materials
for that section. Those that manage each section will receive the bulk of advertising revenues generated by that section. Periodically, the accumlated information can be published as a Travelbridges Guide. Ideally, these will be supported by advertising and so can be distributed online and in the appropriate
regions for free. The idea is not to compete with Lonely Planet or Let's Go, but to supplement them with the latest info from the road. After all, these will not be comprehensive, reliably researched guide books, but basically word of mouth publications.
THE ONLINE EXHIBITION
Most travelers either take photos or videos and are inspired to write journals, poems, funny letters home, or something, and of course everyone has at least a few travel stories to tell. The idea here is to encourage people to share this stuff online and in the process gain copyright protection and a share of the proceeds if their materials are used in any published product.
I will be putting up lots of flyers and sponsoring promotions at some of the many internet cafes on KhaoSan Road. I hope to gather and upload the following kinds of materials:
Writings: Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction (Journals, Reports, Commentaries)
Photos: Stand Alone, Photos Essays (Written), Narrated Slide Shows (Audio)
Video: Clips from people's travel footage, Bangkok area travel guide pieces
On the street pieces (interviews, reports, sights and sounds)
I may also try to produce a Virtually Live Weekend from KhaoSan Road. Aside from using online voice chat programs to have travelers phone home, we would also produce something like Saturday Night Live from Khao San Road and upload before Saturday Night in Europe and the Americas. This would likely include coverage of real exhibitions here of materials
This is an experimental phase and there will no doubt be a lot of trial and error and unforeseen challenges. If I am working alone, the amount of content will be limited by the hours in the day. If, however, I can generate enough excitement and participation amongst travelers, the local film making community ( I plan to visit the local film schools), and the omputer jockeys (here and those tuned in from afar), then this can wind up being one mega-exhibition. At the very least, I will set up the basic
infrastructure of the site, create examples of the types of content we hope to produce, and hopefully find a few section managers willing to help manage the site. After the exhibition here, materials will continue to be generated by online submissions and perhaps facilitated by a newly recruited army of traveling online publishers. When we think we have enough content to produce a marketable product, we'll do so.
Once the site becomes sustainable without my full time attention, I plan to move to another location and launch another site.
III. INVESTMENT INFORMATION
There are currently 1500 shares of Worldbridges LLC, of which I own 1495. As mentioned above, I would like ownership to reflect the global nature of the company. I also don't like the idea of any one person (myself included) getting super rich from Worldbridges.Fair compensation for work and investment - Yes! A Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch type of corporate noble - No!
So, for now an individual is limited to owning 1% of the company (15 shares). I am currently the exception, but plan to eventually divest myself to the same limit. In order to raise enough capital for short term operations, I would like to sell 10% of the company (150 shares) at $100/share. I am making the offer only to this group of old friends those who have listened to my vague ramblings about WB for the last year and have helped me greatly by offering feedback and encouragement. Please do not invest as a personal favor to me, but because you believe in the viability and worthiness of the company and because you think the investment will make you some money.
If you are interested in investing please send an email to [email protected] and indicate how many shares you would like.I will confirm your order and send details of how to proceed with the transaction.
Well, that's all for now. I'm off to get some Paad Thai and a banana shake. I will leave Bangkok on Thursday to attend my Grandmother's 80th birthday this weekend in Florida, so probably won't be online much. I'll be back and ready to launch on Sept. 2.
--------epilogue (for now) July 10, 2005 ----------
Well, I had a great time on KhaoSan Road for a couple of months and really enjoyed the 1988 Asian Games, but Travelbridges never really got off the ground and still lies there, neglected and waiting to rise from the ether somdeay. The financial necessity to return to Korea, and the wait to for visa paperwork to be filed did lead to me the most gratifying web buidling period of my life - creating Worldbridges Tibet and connecting with the TIbetan community in Dharamsala, India. Once back in Pusan, I got back to work on Pusanweb/Koreabridge and enjoyed a variety of adventures in webcasting, but didn't really attempted to launch Worldbridges again.
Now, after 7 years, I am once again attemping to answer the "What is Worldbridges' question in earnest. To see how that goes, stay tuned to Worldbridges.net
for some reason this post has become a major spam magnet - turning comments off for now...