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Hall Of Fame8 Corners of ECommerce
industry is on
the verge of
into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
There are no
more grand theories
that hold sway
over the entire
It's better to
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It's a Canary -- isn't it?
I felt for a long time that the fuss over credit card transactions on the 'Net was a canard.
After all, we regularly entrust our cards to, for example, waiters in restaurants for extended periods without a qualm. And using an ATM card in a supermarket uses pretty much the same technology as sending a CC number in eMail.
In any event, if you do get ripped off, Visa (or whoever) is liable, not you.
There are, however, classes of documents which demand total security and verification. Granted, at the moment, these types of docs are probably largely confined to Intranets. But as Intranets grow and interact with each other (Extranets?), the need for secure encryption will force its way on to the 'Net.
Which is what Terisa is addressing.
My spies tell me that:
"With SecureWeb Documents (TM) we give webmasters the ability to require digital signatures (PKCS.7) on HTTP documents, both dynamic and static. This occurs through a plug-in to the browser and an add-on to the server.
We have a downloadable plug-in on our web site and a demo running there as well: http://www.terisa.com
With SecureWeb Documents (TM) when a customer fills out a form, the form will require their digital ID; it may also be encrypted. By enabling the storage of tamperproof digitally signed documents and tamperproof digitally signed receipts on your hard disk, our product provides the audit trail so important for legally binding documents.
SecureWeb Documents (TM) provide authentication, validation, and (until now a missing piece) nonrepudiation."
The license isn't cheap.
But what price security? --John Blower
Search Tech: The Next Generation
The amount of data available on the Web continues to grow exponentially.
As more and more data is accumulated, how to retrieve the information you want readily, efficiently and economically is a hot topic.
In the "old days", extracting information from internal databases required a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the technical structure of the database and at least some professional programming expertise.
Searching the Web, on the other hand, was easy, particularly after the advent of Alta Vista. There simply weren't that many documents to search.
Now, however, using Alta Vista to search for documents related to a particular topic yields an unusable number of references.
This relatively unsophisticated search mechanism is about to be surpassed by the integration of Natural Language Processing into search engine post- and pre- processors.
Two of the main elements of Natural Language Processing (NLP) are morphology (the study of word forms and their relationships to parts of speech), and syntax (the study of the ways in which words are combined to develop phrasal structures).
When a search engine has been augmented with NLP capability, users no longer need to master the complexities of query syntax - like Boolean operators. Data sources can be queried using everyday language.
As this sophisticated search software takes root in both the Internet and Intranets, users will be able to conduct far more targeted searches for precise topics or nuggets of information.
For site designers and marketers, the effect will be to level the playing field. Meta tags will need to become more precise and descriptive, which, in turn, will force site owners to more precisely define their USP within the universe of available concepts.
Up next: penetration... --John Blower
Disguised as bona fide journalists, my mate Stan and I recently spent a pleasant day at the Hyatt-Regency (SFO) attending the Search '97 conference.
In fact, the "conference" was convened in order to promote Verity, a company which produces extremely sophisticated search engine software.
Being mathematically-challenged, I can't pretend to have understood all the tech-talk about algorhythms and so forth. However, a number of intriguing themes emerged, as well as some interesting demonstrations of search software.
The bloke from Adobe was particularly interesting in expounding the Adobe view of Web development.
We are, it seems, still at the "brochureware" stage of Web design and architecture. That is, most websites are still "static" and serve as little more than online "brochures".
I can't argue with that.
The next year or so will see "push" technology coming to the forefront of site design and architecture. This is the use of databases and "on the fly" page creation through HTML templates.
Makes sense. The problem with the Web is too much information. When Alta Vista was launched (was it only 16 months ago?), it seemed miraculous. Now it simply pulls up too many references. I mean, how useful is it to have 23,000 documents referring to "elephants"?
The need now is for more sophisticated search tools which can "intuit" one's needs. Which is what Verity produces.
Stay tuned. I want to look at what I discovered in more detail and discuss the implications for site design, architecture and promotion.
Oh, yes - the food was good. And the bar was hosted... --John Blower
Soon after animated GIF's appeared last year, I jumped on the bandwagon and incorporated an animated email GIFon my site. I also incorporated same on a couple of clients' websites. We all loved 'em.
For about two weeks.
Then they got boring. I also found them a distraction. My eye was constantly moving from the text to the rotating icon.
Still, there's a place for everything. Animation in the form of GIF's was simply overdone. Over time, with a few exceptions, things have calmed down. The annoyance factor is not what it was a year ago.
Still, the GIF form of animation seems pretty crude.
Now, however, there's Lingo from Shockwave. It doesn't "stream" (play as it loads), but it has, in certain situations, a number of signal advantages over GIF's.
I shan't go into the ins and outs of the two formats here. Instead, I shall simply refer you to Bob Schmitt's explication in the admirable Web Review.
As well as doing a far more thorough job than I could, I heartily recommend a visit to this site. It's packed full o' goodness... --John Blower
AT&T Survey Says...
"According to AT&T's new study on electronic commerce, 40 percent of Americans plan to buy products online during the coming year, but less than half of American businesses have Web sites to push their products.
When it comes to electronic commerce, consumers are ready to buy but business are not ready to sell. At least that's the conclusion of a study commissioned by AT&T. The results show that almost 40 percent of Americans say that in the coming year they expect to buy products through Internet-based and other commercial on-line services.
In fact, 7 percent of the consumers say they have at least used on line services to get product information.
AT&T finds these results encouraging. But the telecommunications giant is distressed about the business commerce. Almost 50 percent of the business executives surveyed say they do not yet have a Web site, nor do they plan to have one in the next five years.
Of the companies that do have Web sites, only 11 percent update it on a daily basis; 18 percent do weekly updates. About 25 percent do monthly updates of their Web information. Only 17 percent of the businesses surveyed said that the Internet is "very important" in selling their products. Come five years from now, only 33 percent say that the Internet will be important. Yet, consumers see themselves online five years from now. More than half of the consumers surveyed--55 percent--said they expect to be shopping online five years from now.
The telecommunications colossus commissioned Odyssey to do the research. Odyssey, based in San Francisco, dedicates its efforts to measuring new media. "
Do you think AT&T might, even remotely, have an interest in promoting on-line commerce? Strangely enough, I received a mail about a survey conducted by eTrust which indicated precisely the opposite.
As my mum used to say, "You pays yer money and you takes yer choice..." --John Blower
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