Xenites Talk Back: Subtext Beneath the Surface



K151 Background on the Genesis of the Xena Palace: a short interview with Betsy Book, webmaster for Whoosh! and co-designer of the Xena Palace.

>Just for clarification, who are SRT Enterprises?

SRT is a Webcasting company. Its president, Alison Marshall, is the person who initially contacted Whoosh! with an interest in pursing a joing Palace project with us. I did not initially want to pursue the project because it did not strike me as something that was particularly Whoosh!-like. First of all, we have always been very low-tech (and purposely so for ease of accessing primarily text-based content). Secondly, I did not see Whoosh! as the appropriate sponsor of a social chat-type thing. I eventually gave in on both counts and agreed to do the project, under the condition that Tom's Page be brought in as a partner. For one, the Palace project is simply more "Tom-like" than "Whoosh-like" and I knew he would have good insight. Also, the sheer size of his audience would add needed leverage to the project. At the same time, Alison convinced me that while the Palace would exist primarily as a social space, we could also do some cool Whoosh!-sponsored chats with authors of articles, weekly chats with webmasters and fan fiction authors, and other more Whoosh!-like material. That's what really did it for me.

>What is their connection to the Xenaverse?

Alison Marshall, the president of the company, is not only a major Xena fan, but also a major Whoosh! fan.

>What do they get from the project? (I'm assuming that they are hosting the Palace code, right? Are they a server? Do they have an interest in promoting graphical chats on the Internet?)

Basically, I think they were looking to do a project that would be a great portfolio piece. They have a few other palace projects, but nothing too exciting. I think they probably realized the enormous untapped potential for a successful Xena palace, given the large online community. But this is just conjecture on my part....heck, why not ask Alison herself? Her email address is alison@srt.net.

As far as their role in the Xena Palace, they host it for free on their server. They also built it and provide tech support for it. They worked from room ideas and sketches from me and Tom, real life New Zealand photos from Bret, and added some 3-D rendering to the rooms. Alison is also working on promoting it with the Palace company itself. The Palace (the company) was actually interested in doing a full-out promotion when it launched in May, but they wanted some kind of note of approval from Universal/RenPic first, and we did not want to risk too much scrutiny from TPTB. So we have worked to promote it internally within fandom instead, and I think that has actually worked out much better.

One note, for the record: neither Whoosh!, Tom's Page, nor SRT Enterprises is seeing a profit from the Palace. All money for memberships go to the Palace company. SRT is making the biggest sacrifice financially, as they are providing hosting and technical services. Whoosh! and Tom are simply donating time and effort.

Betsy Book

 K152 On the Collective Intelligence of HCNBs

This may be well beyond the desired scope of your work but... I have yet to read any comment on the intelligence of HCNBs... this may sound lame, but in reality, reading WHOOSH!, and visiting 1 or perhaps 2... hundred... sites has led me to believe that HCNBs are a very intelligent group of individuals. Many are well read, finding references that are at best obscure, recognizing concepts and equating issues and addressing mythology that the general public would not recognize. (For example, our provincial newspaper is written for a grade 6 education level... the "quality" newspaper is wriiten to a grade 10 level, and THE national paper is written to a grade 12 level... WHOOSH! and several other sites seem to attack a post secondary level educated audience).



YIL: Much of the Internet itself is about individuals expressing themselves and being who they are. There's no consensus. Is there a connection with "Xena"?

LAWLESS: There is. I've thought about it. It's people communicating from outside the establishment. There's another thing that ties us together, I think. I don't want anyone to be offended, but there is a similar type of nutball who might be on the computer day and night and who might go to a Star Trek convention or otherwise gravitate towards cult television or some other form of pop culture. They have this funky taste. They're hip without necessarily being part of the hip world outside. They're hip in their own funky way, in their own studios, in their own offices, in their computer rooms. They're influencing pop culture in a more underground kind of way. I think they are people that might like a show like mine. Computer nerds like it.

Yahoo Internet Life Interview with Lucy Lawless


K154 On the Difference Between "Hits" and "Visitors"

L69 Tom's page "hits"....actually, hits is a misnomer. You should use "visitors" instead of hits. Hits is a term that means every single file that is downloaded from the site including all html files plus images, sounds, quicktimes, whatever. Your data is correct, but just substitute "visitors" here where you use "hits."

On a technical note: the 60,000 hits a month to Whoosh! translates into about 2000 visitors a day. Kym was obviously using "hits" in the true sense...meaning images, html files, etc. Since you are working with "visitor" figures for Tom, it is important to keep a consistent measurement standard when talking about other sites. We do not have a running total of visitors for Whoosh! but if you want to put it in perpsective, Tom's site gets about 7000 visitors a day vs. our 2000.

Betsy Book



The Ballad of the Internet Nutball: The Xenaverse in Cyberspace

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