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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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Cheap is Dear
It sounds like Rob has been smoking the same stuff as the usually intelligently readable Gerry McGovern of Nua Limited, whose latest piece is a hymn to the notion that all information on the Web is - or should be - free.
Frankel propounds the absurd notions that "for next to nothing, our websites can look as big and as powerful as Coca-Cola's…" , and that "nobody charges you for access".
Last time we looked at our bank statements, we noticed a few items called "computer equipment leasing" and "charges to ISPs". And those items are just the tip of the iceberg, and take no account of site architecture, design and maintenance, not to mention the amount of time we spend using and contributing to the Web as a whole.
"Time is money"…or has that notion taken the same hike as Frankel's and McGovern's sensibilities?
Anyone who has been involved in the New Medium for any length of time will have realized that the Web consumes time, money and content voraciously. Our columnists, for example, do actually have to buy groceries and pay rent. And we're happy to pay them for their words of wisdom.
And someone has to pay us. And that's you, gentle reader.
There is a sense in which each and every one of us pays for the "free" information available on the Web, be it through an extra penny on a box of detergent or through access to Northern Light's "Special Collection" documents.
In fact, the Web is like any other business medium. It's dominated by a few big players (ever heard of Microsoft, Rob?). Which is not to say that, through astute marketing, a small organization can't carve out a small but profitable niche for themselves.
"Information wants to be free", whines McGovern.
Yeah, sure. So do Mercedes Benzes. But the people who produce both information and Mercs like to get paid… --John Blower
Discussions about the Internet often revolve around bandwidth, faster modem speeds, the latest "killer app" and other, largely peripheral technologies.
Forget about 'em. The Internet is about relationships: individual to individual, individual to organization, organization to organization.
Ask yourself why someone would visit your site. They probably want information of one sort or another. And if they can't find it at your site, they may mail you.
Your visitor will expect a prompt response, rendered in a friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming manner. They will expect accurate information - not a hard sell.
If the information your visitor requests is not immediately available, they will expect an immediate response telling them that and a follow-up with the requested information within twenty-four hours.
If this doesn't happen, your organization will be perceived as slow and unresponsive. And it will doubtless be perceived the same in terms of the delivery of your product or service.
This is the essence of doing business on the Internet.
It seems to us that far too many organizations do not, as yet, understand this basic principle. It often appears that they have a site "because they should" - they don't actually believe in the medium. The Internet component of their sales and marketing effort is seen as peripheral.
Too many sites are static, rarely updated, full of excessive graphics, and make no attempt to interact with their visitors.
The Internet is about building and consolidating relationships. In the Digital Age, we need to remind ourselves from time to time that it is this base which underlies the whole superstructure. --John Blower
As the Web becomes almost ubiquitous, users seem to demand more and more sophistication in the pages they choose to view.
The demand for complex images often seems irresistible. The problem is their size.
Received wisdom has it that each page should be no more than 30k in total - which tends to limit one's use of complex images.
The trick is to make use of the user's browser's cache, so that complex images are waiting for the user, rather than vice versa. After all, no one likes to hang around waiting for a pic, yet we all like pics….
Here's how to do it. If you are able to acurately predict where on your site a user will go next - for example, if you are displaying a gallery of images in a linear format - you can use the image's "height" and "width" characteristics to preload the next image.
So, embedded within the HTML of page 2 (for example) is the image to be displayed on page 3. At the end of the coding for page 2, insert a number of "
This is using the browser's ability to load into cache at its most basic. An alternative could be to make the preloaded image height 1 and set the width attribute at 100, thus distorting the preloaded image into another graphic in its own right.
Breach of Security
There has been much talk recently over the issue of Internet security, with companies falling over themselves - and each other - to announce the latest, super-secure encryption software.
But how prevalent are breaches of security on the Internet?
Dr. John Howard of the Computer Emergency Response Team has published his Ph.D. dissertation on trends in Internet security from 1989 to 1995, through analysis of some 4,300 reported incidents.
The research accomplished the following: 1) development of a taxonomy for the classification of Internet attacks and incidents, 2) organization, classification, and analysis of incident records available at the CERT®/CC, and 3) development of recommendations to improve Internet security, and to gather and distribute information about Internet security.
This is engrossing if somewhat dry stuff, but the essence is that security incidents were generally found to be decreasing relative to the size of the Internet.
Estimates based on the research indicated that a typical Internet domain was involved in no more than around one incident per year, and a typical Internet host in around one incident every 45 years.
Reorts of the death of Internet security seem to have been somewhat exaggerated.
The problem of how to accurately measure activity on a site has been a vexing one. But now a solution appears to have been found.
Taking advantage of the power of the Web, RelevantKnowledge gathers its data in real time and reports on it to clients on demand. Reports are delivered online via the RelevantKnowledge Web site through a "Web-based, java-enabled automated reporting interface".
(Which is a terrific bit of jargon.)
RelevantKnowledge tracks home, business and school users through its randomly generated, representative panel. Web Reports include the following demographic breaks: age, gender, location of use (home, work, college), region, professional status, household income, education and household size, as well as reach and average page views per visitor.
Presumably Social Security No. and Mother's Maiden Name will be included in later versions…
The company recently unveiled its Top Web site list for the month of September.
Ranked by number of unique visitors who visit each site during each month, the list comprises the top 25 most trafficked sites (all numbers are in 000's).
At number one is Yahoo with 14,584 visitors, number two is Netscape with 12,589 visitors, number three is Excite at 9,257, number four is AOL with 7,831 and number five is Infoseek with 7,335.
Perhaps, at last, accurate site stats are within our grasp… --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
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