Independence Day

It's finally time. I suppose that, deep down, I always knew this moment would come sooner than later.

It's finally time.

I suppose that, deep down, I always knew this moment would come sooner than later.

Can it be that, after all this time, you're finally ready to make your own way out there in the exciting world of the Internet?

I feel so proud. Sure, I know you're going to make mistakes. But I also know you're going to do just fine, because you're a machinist. Machinists think things through.

Now, I shouldn't waste such a solemn, important moment pointing out for you what the Web and Internet really are—one big, super-charged, two-way communications medium.

And telling you where to find forums, newsgroups, chat rooms and bulletin boards would be a waste of precious time. You'll discover and experiment with some of these tools in 1999, whether I say they matter or not.

No, this is not the time for idle advice, like about how we did things in our day. This is a special moment between us, and it demands an idea that really matters the most—something that will help and inspire you as you make your way through the Online Battlefield.

So, with respect, appreciation, and sincere hope for your success, here it is:

PLEASE, don't post unsolicited announcements of your services or products in any forum, newsgroup, bulletin board, chat room or blind e-mail.

The people you want to talk to don't use forums and newsgroups to look for those types of announcements. They use these tools for answers to questions, solutions to problems, or research.

Don't believe me? Check out any machining-related forum and look at the threads that begin with service or product announcements. They're easy to find—they're the ones with no activity or responses after the initial post.

No, you should avoid the "quick fix," and use these tools for your long-term advantage. Help those who post questions by providing solutions and advice relevant to their specific problems. Do it as much as you can. Over time, you'll establish a reputation as a helpful, knowledgeable expert. And as more people come to know or discover you this way, the greater your reputation as a metalworking, problem solving, straight shooting solution source will become.

This is the single best piece of advice I can give you before you set out on your "cyberpath." Some of you will pay attention to it, and some won't.

Now go on. And make us all proud.