All; I would like to share my words to Orchid with those who did not
make it to the Tucson dinner. I had the rare privilege to meet face
to face 230 dear Orchidians! You were great. I hope to meet even more
Orchidians next year.
Thank you all for your support!
The 7th Orchid Dinner
Tucson, 7 February 2003.
Good evening, ladies and Gentleman. I want to thank all, Orchidians
and friends, for inviting me here tonight.
When I got on the plane in Bangkok, I asked myself: “Why am I doing
this?” Flying is dangerous enough and meeting so many people that
all those years got to know me just as a virtual figure is scary.
I decided that if I will make it here to Tucson, than I should tell
you about myself, Ganoksin, It’s origins and the idea behind it. I
would also like to talk about us, our community, and what it takes
to bring online and offline environments together.
When we changed planes in Taipei airport I realized that this is
going to be a very special evening for us. A Milestone in a long
and difficult road, that finally brought us here tonight. Like life
itself, this journey was mysterious, some times sad, funny, but
At the immigration line in Los-Angeles I looked at my passport
again, Here I am, E. Aspler, a.k.a. Hanuman, born in Jerusalem some
40 years ago, traveling on a French passport, a son to a holocaust
survivor from Romania and a Tunisian mother, a grandson of an
Italian Wine merchant who had 14 wives through out his long life.
Here I am, entering The United States.
The officer asked me what am I doing for living? I told him that I
am a physician. I was granted entry. I do not know if it was the
French Doctor thing, but he let me trough.
Now you can ask yourself, what an Israeli born physician is doing in
Thailand for the last 15 years? When I think about it, not really
much. Back then, I was a young Doctor, in charge of one of the
busiest emergency rooms in Israel, but at the time I felt just too
young to deal with pain and sorrow everyday.
It was clear to me that I need a change. I was dreaming of tropical
climate, palm trees and fresh open air. I decided to go Far East, to
Thailand. Soon, what was lost in long years at the university and
hospitals was gained on the exotic beaches of South East Asia.
I was happy and suntanned, but as usual I was looking for new things
On the road, traveling, I started dealing with silver Jewelry. I
found myself increasingly involved in the Jewelry trade, and decided
it was time to set up a small workshop.
In Thailand, It is a tradition to get monks blessing before starting
a new business. I thought that it would be a good idea. When I told
the monk that I was born on Saturday, the year of the tiger, he
closed his eyes in deep concentration and made me wait for long
twenty minutes. He was mysteriously calculating my destiny. Than he
looked at me and said, “Your company name should be Ganoksin, and by
the way, you might not become rich, but you will be famous”. That is
how Ganoksin was born in 1993.
Ganoksin sometimes mispronounced as Ganoskin, sounds like a skin
disease? Well, not exactly.
Ganoksin is a combination of two Thai words: “Kanok” and “sin”.
Kanok is pure gold and “Sin” means art. Therefore, Ganoksin can be
thought of as “The Art of Gold”.
Now, Let me tell you about Bangkok of the early nineties. It was a
huge concrete jungle in the making. The Thai economy was rolling in
full steam while foreigners from around the world were coming over
to look for new opportunities.
Thai people are extremely nice and friendly. However, cultural
differences kept many of us, the foreigners, isolated.
In Bangkok of those days, the infamous chaotic traffic made it very
difficult for people to socialize. For example, I could to talk with
my friends everyday on the telephone, but I would meet them twice a
year. I could lose hair, gain weight, even have my eyelids pierced
with weird body Jewelry and they would not know about it.
All this was about to change with the arrival of the most important
peripheral of the decade - the modem.
The need for communication explains why the first virtual community
in Bangkok, The SalaThai BBS, was an immediate success. With the
opening of SalaThai suddenly we had News groups, Chat rooms,
everybody was having fun using fake identities and
’out_of_this_world’ screen names, but the most important thing, it
was a major source of for us. Members would post
about new visa regulations, New drinking holes and new
cultural events in town.
I have noticed though that the most powerful thing about it was that
people were more then willing to share and exchange information
online. For some reason, more then they would do in real life!!
Everyone felt that they are on a stage, and every one else is
listening to their words of wisdom.
After long years of isolation, we discovered our voice, and we made
sure that this voice is loud and clear.
This was a fundamental observation. Actually this was, and still is
the seed, the concept that made Ganoksin what it has become today.
I was experimenting with the new medium. I wanted to find ways of
promoting my young business. So, after few months, in 1996, the
Ganoksin website was launched. We started as an online Catalogue.
Let us be frank. Catalogues are boring. I tried to spice it up with
bits and pieces of interesting professional Basic
alloys data, charts and stories from the gem trade in south East
Asia, were put together to create the ‘Tip’s from the jeweler’s
We opened our site to local jewelers and designers. Content was the
magic word that was driven us these early days. We were fortunate.
We did not have to wait long. One morning I received an email from
Canada. Charles Lewton-Brain a writer, a man with vast knowledge and
experience was offering us what I was dreaming of. Professional,
valuable content, and for free. Charles understood immediately the
value of reciprocation. He got a free platform for his publications
- We got the content. Over the years Charles become a guide, an
advisor, the mentor.
Couple of months down the road; we already discussed the possibility
of a mailing list based forum, at that time a cutting edge
technology. That is how Orchid has started.
Back than I could not predict yet, that Ganoksin and Orchid would
become what it is today - A new virtual life form in the Gem and
Jewelry trade. Today, 7 years later we are broadcasting more than
90,000 articles a day through Ganoksin.com and Orchid generates
quarter of a million emails everyday and reaches 6,000 members
I would like to take a moment here to thank again the sponsors and
especially each contributor. Your support is what funds this
Orchid is moderated. That means that I read every email that comes
in before it is sent back to the list. The reason I go through all
this is to reduce noise, to avoid junk mail, spam and repeated
signatures. I edit every post, and I am doing my best to make the
content as readable as possible.
As a rule, I try to forward Orchid twice a day - at sunrise and at
The moderation process is necessary to insure the quality of
material published. The daily task of moderation made me soon
realize that there are patterns in the flow. I found
that the topics of discussion are important as the content itself.
We now can tell what are the issues that interest our trade by
looking at the topic list.
We discovered a second layer of knowledge, the about
70,000 Archived articles are available in almost every aspect of our
trade, but It is not good enough yet. The threads are organized
chronologically, as a searchable list of topics. In my opinion, the
data is still in a primary, unprocessed form.
We must realize that questions are as important as the answers. What
interest our group can be used in many different ways. For example,
we can organize it in a Frequently Asked Questions format and by
doing so we can use the data to set up school curriculum or writing
a textbook. This can be done by groups of volunteers. Each group
will dedicate itself to a specific subject. The groups will monitor
the list, identifying the frequent questions related to its subject.
Once this specific FAQ is ready, In the spirit of Ganoksin it will
be freely distributed through our website.
The first group already exists. Jesse Kaufman from 'JDK Jewelry’
volunteered to setup the group, which handles the CAD/CAM design
We also need to reach out and communicate with non-English speaking
artists. Does anybody here can guess how many jewelers are out
there? Can anybody imagine the enormous value of their traditional
Our group managed to reach the ultimate point of any cyberspace
community where the people themselves make the group playground
rules, recognizing its value and feeling belonged.
Orchid is the place to make friends, to hear diversity of opinions,
it teaches how to deal with conflicts, it’s facilitate business and
trust, bridges over race, age, experience and ones socioeconomic
It sometime even offers members a psychological extension to their
own mind and personality, Orchid reflects ones taste, attitudes,
interests, fantasies, anxieties and desires. A path, which leads to
a road of exploring and learning.
We are standing here today proud to make some difference. Today,
when the winds of war are blowing in many parts of the planet it is
our duty to spread out our message of constructive cooperation and
Let us always remember that a world of differences unite us.