ALEXANDER IN CYBERSPACE - Part IV

by Robert Rickover

(originally published in 1997)

In the last Cyberspace article, I drew an analogy between posting a web site on the Internet and placing a promotional flyer on a bulletin board. What works well for one will probably be fine for the other in terms of content and style.

However, there is one major difference to consider: cyberspace is a lot bigger than any bulletin board you’ve ever seen. At the moment it’s the size of a bulletin board that wraps its way around the planet - twice. (Note: That was in 1997. Now there are billions of websites and so the bulletin board would probably have to be a many miles high!) And it’s growing by leaps and bounds. Therefore a major consideration for planning your web presence is how to help people find your web site out of the hundreds of millions of other sites.

What follows is a little technical so if you find it confusing, don’t worry about it. Just show it to the person who set up your web site and ask them to take care of the details for you. In most cases it will take no more than an hour or two.

The basic means of attracting people to your web site involves links (more precisely “hyperlinks”) to and from other web sites. Links are what allow someone to quickly and easily move from one web site to another with just the click of a mouse.

For the Alexander Technique, there are four main ways in which links can be used to draw people to your web site:
1. links from the dozen or so major Internet search engines and directories (these are roughly the equivalent of card catalogs in a library);
2. links from other Alexander Technique web sites (about 100 - over 300 by the end of 2003) at the moment);
3. links from health-related Internet web sites (there are hundreds of these);
4. links from web sites devoted to events, organizations etc in your geographic area.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do much about the first three of these. This time-consuming process has been done already as part of the creation of The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique. In most cases all you really need to do is have a link from that site - usually from the page titled,
How can I find a teacher of the Alexander Technique? on that site. You might also want to establish links with a few of the other major Alexander Technique sites: ATI, STAT, and AmSAT. You can do this by emailing the administrators of those sites.

The area where you may wish to put in a little more effort is in getting links from local web sites. For example, if you’re in Los Angeles, you’d want to do a search for web sites devoted to that city as well as those covering the region. First type “Los Angeles” and then “California” in a search engine’s query box. In this case you’ll find dozens of sites and you’ll probably want to restrict your efforts to the ones that seem most relevant. Even if you live in a small community, there will almost certainly be several sites devoted to activities and businesses in your area.

The usual Internet etiquette (“netiquette”) is to offer to exchange links. For example, if you’ve found a local directory that has a section titled “Holistic Health”, ask if they will place a link to your site in that section and offer to place a link back to them - either on your main page, or more likely, on a special “links” page that forms part of your site.

One of the nice things about having an Internet site is that once it’s set up and the appropriate links are in place, you don’t have to do anything. As the number of people using the Internet increases, more and more people will find your site. Six months ago, I estimated that about 300 people per day are getting their first information about the Alexander Technique via the Internet. Today, it’s closer to a thousand per day, and growing. (Note: closer to 6,000 people/day now.) If you’d like more students, the Internet is a good place to find them.

Recent web developments: Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, the well-known holistic health author and speaker, has a very popular Internet site (www.drweil.com) that attracts about a million visitors a month. In January, Dr. Weil featured a very favorable article about the Alexander Technique, with links to The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique web site for those wanting more information. In March, Dr. Weil began providing direct access to ATI’s database of teachers on his page, “Referrals to Local Practitioners”.

These two developments, along with America On Line’s growing Alexander Technique section on its Health Channel, have dramatically increased the Technique’s visibility on the Internet. (By the end of 1998, every major seach engine had an "Alexander Technique" category - apart from the usual search engine function.)

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