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Charles Lewton Brain's speech at the 10th Orchid Dinner


#1

Good evening friends, colleagues, industry people and most of all to
ourselves, Orchidians and Ganoksin Project participants. To be
together like this, here, in Tucson is a special moment in the year.
And this year is special too.

The 10th year. A full decade of Ganoksin. If this were a marriage
we’d be giving each other a diamond today. Probably a big one. And
that is Ganoksin and Orchid, a maturing marriage, a partnership of
like minds, sharing, compromising, collaborating and evolving
together. By this intimate relationship, through group mind we work
together on advancing our goals of making life easier, better and
more informed for the jeweler, the person with their hands on the
material, filings tattooing their fingers and, ever more, their
fingers on a mouse, jewelers all. Our mission of dissolving secrecy,
improving the quality of life and work for the goldsmith, the maker
has succeeded. Never before in the history of the world has this
been so accessible to our field. We have made a serious
difference for tens of thousands. That’s nice. And meaningful. And
we’re not done yet. This is in fact an organic, fluid, growing
thing, this project we have all been working on. We are moving into
the future together.

So what is this ganoksin thing? There are two major parts, the
Orchid list, its living, vital community and the information
reservoir that is the Ganoksin site. We know it is about sharing,
and quality and making life easier. We know that it is
a content density, a weighted gravitational warp in the universe of
the internet, as planned a decade ago. We know it is somehow
constructed by our thoughts, that we are magnetically linked through
the dissolving bonds of geography, like minds sucked towards the
vortex of discussion and group mind that flowers
through the ganoksin project. We know it is a Global hands across
the sea. We are a place of living knowledge.

Our functions are also as a public library, a community center, a
school, and as a place to document and store knowledge, a repository
of how-to. Hanuman feels that in a globalizing world, a place of
niche markets and the inability to compete on price alone, that we
are increasingly a way of preserving the art of goldsmithing, of
keeping knowledge alive, of offering points of entry to new
generations.

While still mostly US based and in English it gives us snatches of
culture, and is a synergy of cultures, multiple viewpoints - a path
to empathy. In fact, it makes a better world. We have also been a
flux, a lubricant, and a role model for industry. A number of
partnerships and activities occurring today would not have gone the
way they have without Ganoksin and Orchid’s existence. We’ve changed
the world.

This is not a random construction. There are many carefully built
details to provide a warm place, a place with heart, a home for a
community. For instance Orchid is carefully designed to use the
email format in the way it does for a number of reasons. Email gets
to essence of a discussion, the core of an issue. When an email
lands in your mailbox is it private, it is yours, and the ownership
and relationship is more intimate than a web board. Hanuman and Ton
edit carefully, a massive all day, every day job. Hanuman is our
magician, our cook, stirring, adding ingredients, sorting them,
letting us tell our stories, be our own role models. Tina Synder,
editor of AJM magazine believes that Ganoksin itself is ‘a sign of
change’ in our world. She thinks that Orchid gives a voice to the
quiet, the shy, that part of the population who find it difficult to
speak in public, that the email exchange dissolves social barriers.
Ganoksin and Orchid raise the confidence and self esteem in the
profession, especially those in isolated places. People say
repeatedly they “know they are not alone” and that it reinforces the
choices and paths of life as a jeweler for them. It teaches us ways
of looking out of the others eyes, through their minds, the sparkle
of their ideas.

There are currently about 20,000 unique visitors per day at
ganoksin, some 600,000 a month adding up to 7,5 million unique
individuals who use the site a year. They stay to read an average of
7.4 documents. Our ‘natural’ traffic is up significantly, that is
the people who find us while looking for on the net.

The Orchid list itself has grown by almost 20% and how has 6,500
members. The proportion of people who get the digest instead of
individual messages is steady at about 65-70%. Our news and press
releases have about 35,000 opted in recipients. Spam blockers as a
new factor interfere with up to 15% of such mass mailings. There are
also a number of new ganoksin users through RSS news syndication. We
have been tracking translation engine visitors and there are real
increases in users reading us in other languages, especially from
France, Germany and Japan. The hidden effects of Ganoksin include
those people who use the archives and the massive content that is the
Project.

Construction changes to the site include the huge and complex move
to a new, and dedicated ganoksin server, our own cyberspace vessel
as Captain Hanuman and lieutenant Ton call it, the server Titania.
The search engine logarithm was rewritten in response to user
comments and has resulted in major improvements to the search
abilities on the site. The new industry sources and resource section
was added to and improved.

The articles that go up regularly at the site are, in fact, a
magazine, each ‘issue’ being a list of new content. A lot of it.
Between last January and this January over 490 articles were added
to the Ganoksin project. Wow. We have branched into theoretical and
critical art content, business, manufacturing and design. The
conversation is larger than before.

We have cemented relationships this year with Canada’s national
Metal Arts Guild and its magazine, with Germany’s GZ magazine and
their range of publications and with the coalition partners of the
Clasp project, an incredible initiative that bridges the information
silos in the field and promises new ways and effectiveness for
learning and sharing in our world. Our friend Andrea Hill will speak
to this.

This brings up an important set of changes we have noted. As the
ganoksin project has matured we are more powerful. Our opinion is
listened to and we are viewed as a force and a partner of note. We
are moving from the virtual world to places of bricks and mortar and
stone. More of our actions are emerging into the tangible world of
objects and physical experience. The partnership in the September
Clasp conference and its educational spin-offs is a sign of this.

The Orchid Books in Print Projects, a collaboration with AJM
magazine and MJSA’s Rich Youmans are another example. Karen
Christian’s book on the Flex Shaft, the first in the series is now
in print to good reviews. This significant book brings solid and new
to the field. Planned books in the Orchid in Print
series include The torch and soldering by Peter Rowe and a book on
the jewelers bench by myself.

A development area for the project is the need for information
guides, interpreters, and teachers using Ganoksin’s content for
curriculum, setting up paths through it and making the mass of
more sensible for learners.

One of the factors coming our way is more emphasis on the local at
the same time that exchange and communication increases.
Rising energy costs and security issues are affecting things,
American tourism in Europe is down hugely and forecasts are for
greatly reduced travel within the US itself. The importance of
ganoksin and the community it offers will increase as physical
travel is impaired.

A decade ago the internet did not offer bloggers, video
conferencing, internet telephony and more. 10 years from now, as new
technologies evolve and new ways for people to communicate appear
Ganoksin will grow with it. Hanuman says “No doubt the net is
evolving at a mind boggling rate. What the level of complexity will
be a decade from now is anybody’s guess. Ganoksin is well aware of
the process. We are hard at work responding to this enormous
challenge, nevertheless our major focus is on you as users and
contributors and I see this challenge as a collective challenge for
all of us, moderators, contributors and users. Ganoksin will be
there with the right tools for the community to keep discussion
alive”. He adds “We all have to think where we want to be ten years
from now. We are now making an important leap from cyberspace to the
real world”.

These comments would not be complete without recognizing some of
those who have worked for ganoksin, Ton, Karen Christians, Pat
Glover among others. To all of our sponsors who have given time,
auction and raffle items, bought tickets tonight and more we give
great thanks and appreciation. A huge, enormous thank you to Rio
Grande, Andrea Hill and the Bell group for their unswerving
support, financial and otherwise, and for the huge job of
organizing, and sponsoring tonight’s Orchid dinner.

And finally, I would like my dear friend and partner Dr. Hanuman
Aspler to stand up and be recognized for his work for us all, for
the world of jewelers, and for our part of humanity.

Thank you all, and have a lovely evening together.


#2

Dear Charles, Hanuman, & Orchid Members,

Congratulations on the wonderful 10 years…Who new back then how far
this would reach & continue to grow??? Charles, your address posted
here for those of us who could not attend, is to say the
least—great!!!

Back when my husband first found this site, we knew that the exchange
of ideas & knowledge would be good…But we had no idea how useful &
informative,as well as social, it would be…A
million/billion/gazillion thanks–tante grazie!!!

I still use many of the tricks that I’ve learned here and have
offered a few that I/we know. The oxidation stripping solution for
white gold (that was dicussed way back when) has saved my tush many
times… I know that I can speak for John too, this place is the first
& last place we come to during our work day and even check alittle
even during vacation breaks…We may be old dogs but this site helps
us learn new tricks…

From sunny Bay
Area-cheers!!
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan