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Janet Roberts

Ezine Publishing in Colombia: Part Two
By Janet Roberts

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In Monday's Ezine-Tip, you met Jose Camilo Daccach Tawil, publisher of El Reporte Delta, a Spanish-language email newsletter which provides technology news and information for business decision-makers, primarily in Central and South America.

If you missed the first part of the interview with Jose, you may read it here.

We asked Jose to compare his publishing situation with that in other parts of the world. One of his concerns was coming up with a newsletter name that would make sense both to English- and Spanish-speaking readers without translation.

"The name is El Reporte DELTA, although it should be 'El Informe DELTA' using correct Spanish," he said. "The name was selected thinking on a version in English under 'The DELTA Report.'"

Janet Roberts: As a publisher, what concerns do you share with other Ezine-Tips publisher-readers, and which are unique to your situation? Do you have to go through any kind of licensing or obtain government approval to publish, or can you just set up a computer and an Internet connection?

Josť Camilo Daccach Tawil: Fortunately, there is no need for licences or government approval for publishing; freedom of speech is something we enjoy. Monetizing the circulation, using HTML vs. text format, writing meaningful content, I believe, are concerns for all of us publishers.

The main difference might be the language in which we publish, and the penetration and technology that our readers use. Internet penetration in the U.S. is about 50 percent and growing, while in Colombia and Latin America, with difficulty we see places with double-digit penetration.

There is a technological concern in the use of technology and procedures to deliver the newsletter. For example, in the U.S. with U.S. readership, you could almost certainly drop addresses that bounce once. With readers outside the U.S., this could prove very cumbersome, since most of the bounces are for technical reasons on the part of the service provider, and not with problems concerning the reader. We had to make some programmes to deal with bounces in a way that only after a period of time and repetitive bounces, we would retire an address from the list.

Also, most of this technology is in English, so all the 'confirmation instructions' for example go unanswered; hence, we had to build also subscription mechanisms from Web sites that would automatically confirm subscriptions done through the site. Although we do an opt-in registration, we do not confirm. To date, there has not been one single claim from our readers with regards to their address being included in a list without their permission.

JR: Some research done on Internet use among Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. shows a fast-growing acceptance. What is the situation in Colombia and how does it compare to Brazil, Chile and Argentina, for example?

JCDT: There is a fast-growing acceptance of the Internet amongst Latin American countries. The implementation and acceptance will follow similar patterns, starting with high-income families and industries and trickling down to lower-economic classes. In Colombia, 42 percent of the high class is connected to the Internet, and 62 percent own a computer. Penetration drops sharply to the next economic level, accounting only with 21 percent with computers and only 8 percent penetration of the Internet.

Brazil is in a completely different league, and Argentina and Chile were early adopters. Colombia has made very deep changes in the last 10 years with the intention of making connectivity one of its priorities. Before the end of the century, Colombia had an Electronic Commerce Law in place, and through programmes from the President's office, there are projects in course to install computers in "every corner of the country." The main goal is to charge for an hour of connection about as much as it costs to play one round of billiards. This way, anyone can have access to the technology. There is an enormous potential for growth in Colombia, as well as in the rest of the Latin American countries for the use of Internet.

Ezine-Tips for October 02, 2001

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