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Open Letter to Da Vinci

Posted by: bad_astra - Wed Sep 29, 2004 4:57 pm
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Open Letter to Da Vinci 
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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 9:20 am
We shouldn't forget - they are a team of volunteers.

This will be the reason for handling public relations unprofessionally in this first phase of their activities - and it means that from this unprofessionality mustn't be concluded their real doings.

All this causes the obstacles to be more difficult to them than to others that are professionals.

All conclusions concerning their substantial work seem to be derived from their handling of public relations. So we all should be cautious handling our conclusions...



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 9:44 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
All conclusions concerning their substantial work seem to be derived from their handling of public relations. So we all should be cautious handling our conclusions...


Good point. I can imagine that maybe the publicity side of things and the website are not the principle focus for a group of volunteers who are spending all their time working on computers / rockets.

Mind you, wouldn't you think that GoldenPalace.com would have got a PR person on their case, to promote the project as much as possible? I think that if I'd made such a large investment for purely publicity purposes, then I'd want to make the point loudly and regularly of the team's progress.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:11 am
Yes, you are right.

But to promote time is required and if there have been unprofessional public relations and promotion additional time is required to repair the consequences.

And GoldenPalace.com isn't an enterprise as big as a real casino. So its staff is smaller and public relations as well as promotions are to a greater portion done automatically.

Apropos staff - a team of volunteers will have a lack of staff I suppose. There may be very much people doing the work of staff but not like psofessional staff. Necessaryly - all the volunteers mainly have to do the work their are being payed for and that's required to live.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:31 pm
Still Ekkehard, you have to agree that their publicity is poorly done, even for a voluntary team.

We have two very good models to choose from, Armadilo and Scaled Composites.

In Armadilo's case, a completely open approach from the beginning was done. While there are some things were left unsaid, they had least provided simple bi-monthly updates for years. Nothing complicated and no grand website. The FAQ of course, later help alot more.

In Scaled's case, we are a different approach. While they adopted a secretive approach, once their hardware is ready, they have been completely open on it. The only thing that was kept secret was their plans both short and long term, which is understandable for commercial reasons.

Is it difficult to find a single volunteer to do a thread/blog or a one paragraph writeup twice a month? The ironic thing is this is a volunteer effort. By the nature of volunteer efforts, it is suppose to be fairly open as its strength is to leverage on the masses. If anything, i find this very poor PR effort to be tardy at best.

I hope they succeed and prove alot of us wrong. And be more open on their orbital project next round. 8)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:41 pm
ARCA, Canuck Arrow and STC have done excellent PR as well.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:15 pm
It's not the problem to find a volunteer who really will do the public relations and promotion - it's the problem to find a volunteer who can do it professionaly and who does it all the time and not sometimes only.

All the professionals working in and for enterprises are paid and work on it every whole day each. A volunteer cannot do that because he has to do other work he is payed for. So you would need several volunteers well organized and coordinated like those constructing and building the Wild Fire. And that's a huge problem - I know by experience.

Armadillo has the advantage that John Carmack is a professional from selling his games. He will have other doing promotions etc. doing for him but he has to direct them - that get's him professionality too.

Scaled Composites is a middle-sized enterprise - they have psofessionality too.

STC is an enterprise - they try to earn money and they pay their staff etc. I think.

Canadian Arrow - I don't know this moment.

But ARAC as a volunteer team is in quite another situation than Brian Feeney's team. They are living in one of the poorest contries of Europe - all people there are missing nearly all what we are used to have here in Germany. Their motivation is much higher than that of people living in Western Europe, the UK, USA and Canada because they 100% believe that they could help their country by working on theier spaccraft as volunteers. The miserable situation of Romania to a great portion is the reason for theier government to assist them in the public. The government only can do that by words because there is no money - so it encourages these entrepreneural volunteers.

So Brian Feeney's people shouldn't be compared to ARCA. Additionaly ARCA by the situation of Romania is very much more forced to search for money and material publically.

If Canadian Arrow is a volunteer team like The da Vinci Project then this shows the large variations to be expected concerning the success of things subject to volunteership.

This can be seen looking at german amateur sports clubs for example. There are enthusiasts contributing their private life to the success of their club. Then members of this club sometimes have great success by competing in international sports competitions. But there are a lot of clubs too not having such volunteers - they have volunteers too but these volunteers don't contribute such a big portion of their private life or don't know how doing things correctly.

And to get the right volunteers consists too of doing promotions to get them and of the given human environment. In Germany this environment is quite different in Hamburg compared to Cologne, Munich or Dresden.

And - what will we all say if Brian Feeny has a successful launch and Canadian Arrow has not? This would mean that it is important too what work the volunteers have been searched for.

It's not easy to do the right concerning volunteers.



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:00 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
It's not the problem to find a volunteer who really will do the public relations and promotion - it's the problem to find a volunteer who can do it professionaly and who does it all the time and not sometimes only.


You're about as good as Feeney for making elaborate excuses about simple failures. That's a heck of an accomplishment.

Poor DVP -- all of the other teams don't have nearly as many problems documenting their progress as they do. Or -- if they do have as many problems (or more) , then it's still not DaVinci's fault because those same people have more motivation.

Hogswallop!!!

- The Powerpoint presentation on Davinci's main page took hours and hours of work, and most of the same skills that would be required to properly document their progress.

- Many hours have been spent on graphic design lovingly making fanciful artwork of an idealized Wildfire in flight.

- The WF2 shell was lugged around to several tradshows, etc. in an attempt to generate donations for the project.

- With 800 volunteers, you can't tell me that no one on DVP's team has the technical skills or the time, to provide periodic updates to their website. The gallery of photos already exists. Adding a new set of photos can not take significant amounts of time or expertise.


You cannot claim that DVP doesn't have the resources to do PR -- you can only state that their PR has been heavy on fantasy and light on reality.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 5:49 pm
Quote:
And - what will we all say if Brian Feeny has a successful launch and Canadian Arrow has not? This would mean that it is important too what work the volunteers have been searched for.


In the end, results matter most, so you are right. However, we know this much:

Canadian Arrow has had engine tests. It has drop tested the crew compartment (and proven capsure boyancy as well). Its aerodynamics are well understood, being based on a 60 year old design that was used dozens, of not hudreds, of times.


Da Vinci: Scale Balloon, compelted shell, design work (assume is) finalized, and some flowmetric work. The Wildfire we see now, doesn't look anything like the odd-windows wildfire from before. (or the odd spacebuggy thing that CNN uses as an image of it) The rest is still ?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 6:34 pm
Taking Electrolyte's comment to heart, I'll retract my post...


Last edited by joel on Fri Oct 01, 2004 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 7:17 pm
Here's what I don't understand. Do we really need to criticize this team so much? Does it really hurt any of us to just take Mr.Feeney's word on it, and wait to see what happens? They're an X-Prize competitor, and this is the X-Prize message board, it's not inconceivable that one of thier many volunteers is reading this right now, so do we really need to piss all over everything they're trying to accomplish? All it really serves to do is lower thier morale, and I for one don't like to make people feel bad, especially people with a dream.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 8:27 pm
Electrolyte wrote:
... it's not inconceivable that one of thier many volunteers is reading this right now, so do we really need to piss all over everything they're trying to accomplish? All it really serves to do is lower thier morale...


Well see -- the thing is, there's a binary solution set here:

0: They have the ship almost ready, and they're just witholding the evidence thereof for reasons unknown.
1: They don't have the ship almost ready and all assurances to the contrary are misleading.

If the answer is zero and DVP members are reading this forum -- doubts about the ship being ready aren't making them feel bad. Quite the contrary -- they're rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation of making the doubters look bad in a few weeks.

If the answer is one -- then they are part of a deliberate and ongoing deception that is ultimately impacting a huge population of space enthusiasts. If this is the case -- I don't really mind if they feel bad about it.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 8:43 pm
I know for a fact the Brian Feeney has read this thread. He's aware of sentiment. I'm not a detractor, far from it. I've been a fan of theirs from the moment I read about their balloon launch plan. I was just pointing out that they are more secrative then the other groups. That's their perogative. Wright Brothers were fairly secrative too (as was a guy named Lindbergh). They won't win, now, but I hope they don't give up on their project.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:28 pm
Hello Everyone,

I've received emails concerning a question I did not address in my long reply a few days ago. There are "NO" doctored photos on the website save one where we illustrated the early prototype into the shot of a rolling balloon launch to give perspective and size of the rocket relative to the crane and a balloon in a similar class. People then and still now had little idea what a rolling balloon launch looked like and how the rocket / crane / balloon system worked together. This was far faster that doing an entire rendering from scratch. This dates back to approx. 2001 time frame. The evolution section it is in was put together to illustrate where we've been and how we arrived at the various choices.

Government approval for the launches has been issued, but believe that already been put on the discussion list.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 01, 2004 11:34 pm
Hi again,

Before the question is raised aka engine testing and photos, I explained in the long email that we had (and still do have) a relationship with Microcosm. They were the engine of choice until it was clear we could not aford it. As mentioned before the photos remained on the site to show where we had been in the engine program. The technical docs on the site (posted about a year ago) showed the switch to the hybrid engine. Microcosm and oursleves had reasons for removing their name (other refernces) from the photos, even though people had identified them as early as late 2000. Microcosm has given us permission now to update the site giving them full credit.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 02, 2004 1:42 am
bad_astra wrote:
I'm not a detractor, far from it. I've been a fan of theirs from the moment I read about their balloon launch plan.


Well -- believe it or not -- I didn't dig in to the data on DVP's site looking for discrepancies. I was shocked at the announcement in late July that they were close to launch. I had essentially ignored them as a team and I set myself the task of rectifying that by learning as much about the project in as short of time as possible. I became a skeptic because everything I researched came to a dead-end.


bad_astra wrote:
I was just pointing out that they are more secrative then the other groups. That's their perogative.


Indeed it is. However, just as with the engineering mantra "Faster. Cheaper. Better. Pick any two", DVP has a similar choice:

They can pick any two of the following three options:

Crow about having matched Scaled's efforts (almost) with a fraction of the budget.
Conceal all physical evidence that they really have developed the hardware claimed.
Complain that there are people who are skeptical that the hardware in question truly exists.

Expecting carte-blanche to perform all three actions simultaneously is a bit much. In any event, time will tell.


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