Xperts Wanted

Jon Udell has noted a new expertise shortage at IDG, in Ace travel agents available:

In my column a few weeks ago, I wrote:

Why, for example, does Expedia ask you to specify the number of children traveling with you, and even their ages, and then proceed to show you hotel rooms that can’t accommodate the kids?

When I’m traveling on business, I get to bypass this nonsense. I just call up IDG Travel and talk to Bruce or Michael. These guys can hack through the plane/hotel/rental-car system like hot knives through butter. It’s true they have access to privileged information, but I’m sure they could also make better use of public information than you or I. Their ability to recognize and exploit patterns is what makes them so effective.

Sadly, as of today, because of a restructuring at IDG Travel, I can’t just call up Bruce Powell or Michael McCarthy. But my loss could be your gain. If you know of a Bay Area opportunity for an ace travel agent, I’ll be happy to pass it along.

And thanks again, guys. You’ll be sorely missed.

This is a great example of the loyalty that buyers have for valued sellers. Jon had formed a bond with Bruce and Michael whose absence will cost him a lot of time and inconvenience. It’s also an indicator that a pleases buyer will not arbitrarily rate a good seller under the Xpertweb rating system.

Behind the Music

There’s a minor back story here. I had an email and phone exchange last spring with Jon Udell that I found depressing,

“I’m certainly interested in the concepts behind XpertWeb. I’m not sure I buy the implementation envisioned in the docs on the website.”

After my best attempt to explain Xpertweb to Jon, he was still unimpressed–testimony to my powers of persuasion. He continued to be skeptical of the Xpertweb requirement that each participant have and manage their own web site. I wrote at the time:

“But yesterday I couldn’t articulate the protocol’s plumbing and its larger promise to a guy who totally gets the Internet and believes it’s destined to connect individuals in unprecedented, useful ways. His commitment to the assumptions behind Xpertweb may precede and exceed mine, but he seems so sated with the failure of people to embrace small procedural changes that he can’t imagine a subculture of process-driven zealots embracing the ritual of an alternate economy, filling in forms to hire a plumber. That view seems to me to ignore our willingness to use a form to buy a $6.95 paperback. Certainly he can’t imagine the protocol growing beyond the early adopters and scaling through the use of their servers. Mitch says it’s exactly the position he took before he dug beneath the surface.”

Whether Xpertweb can work, fortunately is easy to disprove. You make it work and then it’s workable. Of course it might not work to force all those people to get and use their own Xpertweb sites but, like all innovators, I’ll just say I’m still working on it. As Dave Winer says about shitty software, “Still diggin’!”

BloggerCon Xpertweb Demo

Roland Tanglao and I will be attending Dave Winer’s BloggerCon, and will be demonstrating the Xpertweb tools at the Hotel@MIT. If you’d like to have a look, please contact me through the little envelope icon, or contact Roland directly.

10:58:38 PM    

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