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The advertising
industry is on
the verge of
being shattered
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
Michael Strangelove

Advertising is
one of the minor
arts, so don't
be intimidated
by it. Try
not to lose
your sense of
Keep it fun.
Robert Bly

is more
it seems.
John Gall

The System
is its own
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser


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All material on
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April 18, 1997

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:

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

April 17, 1997

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.

A major player in this area is Inso, who have developed a new natural language tool, Intelliscope. Intelliscope, in turn, has been integrated into Verity's Natural Language Tool.

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

April 16, 1997

Free Lunch!

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

April 15, 1997

Jumpin' Jehosephat!

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

April 14, 1997

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

Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.

Check out the Archives....90 Weeks of Back issues including:

Week Ending April 13, 1997 Including:
  • Layout
  • JavaDoubler
  • Integration
  • Website Pricing
  • Japan
Week Ending April 06, 1997 Including:
  • Speed
  • JavaDoubler
  • Integration
  • Website Pricing
  • Japan
Week Ending March 30, 1997 Including:
  • Germany
  • Banner Ads
  • Reasons to Send PR
  • 20/20 Hindsight
  • UFO Cult: Bad Design
Week Ending March 23, 1997 Including:
  • The Other 51%
  • We Wuz Framed
  • Bandwidth
  • Bad Design
  • Sling Shot
Week Ending March 16, 1997 Including:
  • Look Ma, No CGI
  • Banner Ads Revisited
  • Submission Wizzard
  • Labels Up to Scratch?
  • WebTV
Week Ending March 09, 1997 Including:
  • Cheap PR
  • Hard Copies
  • Ad Innovations
  • Don't Do This
  • Design Targets
Week Ending March 02, 1997 Including:
  • Web Balkanization
  • Mini Malls
  • Liars and Statistics
  • Multiple Search
Week Ending February 22, 1997 Including:
  • Direct Marketing World
  • Columbo, Not Just Yogurt
  • New HTTP Spec Speeds Net
  • All 4 One Search
Week Ending February 16, 1997 Including:
  • Finding Images
  • The Mining Co
  • Search Engine Stuff
  • Denounce
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending February 09, 1997 Including:
  • Webmaster Secrets
  • New Search Engine Services
  • Learning From Others' Mistakes II
  • Learning From Others' Mistakes
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending February 02, 1997 Including:
  • Purpose First
  • Ad Auction
  • 123 Domain Me
  • Publicity
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending January 26, 1997 Including:
  • Drowning In Links
  • Ad Tutorial
  • Internet News
  • Cookies
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending January 19, 1997 Including:
  • Finding Online Marketing Info
  • Microscope
  • Promotion Tools
  • Bad Form Email
  • Weekend Reading
Week Ending January 12, 1997 Including:
  • Ad Placement
  • Oooops
  • Odd Bedfellows
  • Advertising Advice
  • Weekend Reading
Complete Indexed Archives(19 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(19 months of marketing and design)

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All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941