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-   -   Internet....You Don't Know What You Are. (http://www.sowpub.com/forum/showthread.php?t=564)

Richard Vaughan November 18, 2000 11:52 PM

Internet....You Don't Know What You Are.
 
The other day I was at a BBQ, the great Ozzie BBQ, complete with snags, prawns and a truck load of beer. While there, I did a little survey, I do this when I get together with people, itís a good way to find out what a cross section of the community are thinking.

I called it the "Internet, You Donít Know What You Are" survey.

I wanted to ask others what they thought about the Net and Iíd been talking to my brother during the week who had started out surfing about 12 months ago and he had come to the conclusion that while the Internet held much promise, it was basically a place for..

Lonely people seeking other lonely people.

People who like pornography.

People who like to chat and email others who are lonely, like pornography and or both.

People selling how to (usually) make money information.

Butt jokes and silly gag humour.

Some businesses desperately trying to get the edge over their competitors by going online, but in the process realising that their markets were indeed offline.

Now I know there are thousands if not millions of resources and interesting websites to visit that donít fit the above model and Iím not implying that you are in the above groups, but the interesting thing I discovered about my survey was that most people, while agreeing that the Net was a good tool it was severely lacking as any kind of replacement for anything. Replacement as in TV, Radio, DVD, Telephone, Shopping etcÖÖ

Okay you can post messages and email people in other countries, but why the heck would you ring your brother up to get his ICQ number so you can talk to him, when you had him on the phone a minute ago? What, because itís cheaper??

Strange.

Another thing I find interesting about the Internet is the so called facts about how 90% of all money spent on the Internet is by businesses going online.

And yet look at the high fail rate of things that youíd expect people to except, like furniture.com, pets.com, toys.com and many, many other companies coming online on the promise that people are going to suddenly stop leaving their homes, stop shopping and sit at a computer and buy dog food, furniture and toys.

Yes I know some of the failed dotcoms made huge sales, but I believe it was a novelty and generally once the novelty wore off, the people went back to what theyíve been doing for the last few hundred years.

See thatís the problem, you canít change human behaviour overnight. If people have been buying offline for centuries, then why are they going to suddenly change.

I actually believe there is some deception going on. No Iím not into conspiracy theories usually, but what about all the positive surveys about how people are in love with the Internet.

I especially like the one about high income earners practically living online. A know a few people like this and not one of them even uses the Internet, except for email. Theyíre all busy doing what most high income earners are doing, building offline empires and businesses.

Yes I know Iím generalising. But I think I know why the Internet will never be much more than a curiosity.

Itís run by the people for the people. Sure itís great to finally have almost complete cheap control over something, but that may will be itís downfall.

Look at other mediums. Television, controlled by large companies, sure thereís public access, but itís not popular like commercial TV. Radio? Same deal, Newspapers, Magazines? Same again.

Commercial companies controlling it all, no public intervention or contribution, well maybe a little like editorials, but thatís minimal.

Digressing, but trying to stay on topic, I saw a show a few days ago on the Goggle Box where they were predicting that the home of the future was here, totally, remote and electronic, the door opens when you get near it, the lights come on automatically, the microwave cooks your TV dinner when you think about it.

The funny thing about this show was I saw a similar show 10 years ago about the home of the future, same promise of things to come.

And I think itís the same with the InternetÖlots of promise, but it just isnít happening and I think it has much to do with because we all have a hand in it, then weíll never agree on what exactly it should be.

Sure large companies like MS might try and tell us what they want it to be, but such is the power of the people that we wonít let it happen. Remember Ďpushí technology?

Even if they ever get around to supplying full motion full screen uninterrupted video and sound on the InternetÖwhoís going to watch? what the whole family will sit around the monitorÖI donít think so. They could turn it into the idiot box, but we already have one of those and cable as well.

Getting back to my party survey. I found that most people had fallen in love with the Internet, surfed, bought, emailed, meet a few new people in other countries and then it had worn off, the newness of it all, the promise of something fantastically different.

Most said after 12 months or so they didnít even bother going online.

I love to know who really is the typical surfer.

A 17 year old looking for love?
A lonely 45 year old (maybe on a high income, but I doubt it) looking for company?
Offline business people desperately trying to open up a new medium to sell in and in the process ignoring the reality of offline?

I donít think anyone knows and when they say they do I think theyíre stretching the truth.

Okay, so the Netís just a tool, like a phone or the computer itself, maybe itíll never realise the great promise of something entirely useful that everyone can fall for. Maybe in 50 years it may be different , maybe if it was run by a huge conglomerate, then it would be more organised, more beneficial, but then we wouldnít have control.

All other successful mediums are clearly defined, this is what they are and this is what they do.

Because we have so much control over it, how can it ever be clearly defined and therefore anywhere near successful.

Maybe it just needs a few decades to find itís feet, like Television and computers.

Still, itís a good place to make money;0)

Just a few after BBQ thoughts, if you liked them send me $100, if you donítÖÖ.well, thatís okay too;0)

What do you think?

Richard




Richard's Excellent Shake & Bake Money Making Adventure

Linda Caroll November 19, 2000 02:49 AM

Re: Internet....You Don't Know What You Are.
 
Hi Richard..

First of all, thank you for starting a thread that I hope many of us can sink our teeth into. : )

I make my living completely online. I am a website developer, graphic artist and columnist.
I'd like to share my thoughts and hope others do the same.

>... but the interesting thing
> I discovered about my survey was that most
> people, while agreeing that the Net was a
> good tool it was severely lacking as any
> kind of replacement for anything.
> Replacement as in TV, Radio, DVD, Telephone,
> Shopping etcÖÖ

That's the funny thing. Some of the best "inventions" that have come along have not been a replacement for anything. Look at airplanes, for example - they didn't "replace" cars or trains - we still use them. Television didn't "replace" radio, because radio still exists.

But here's food for thought. The Internet doesn't come with a user's manual, so most people haven't the faintest clue what to really do with it. The average surfer will use the Internet as yet another method of entertainment. Yes, lonely people will hang out online to talk with other lonely people. Some people will use it to email friends or family because it allows more frequent contact without the long distance bills.

One of the things I've been saying for over four years is that the Internet is hands down, the fastest and cheapest method of communication available today... but that's all it is - a method of communication.

People communicate with people. Businesses communicate with customers and shoppers communicate with stores. (more on business below)

> Another thing I find interesting about the
> Internet is the so called facts about how
> 90% of all money spent on the Internet is by
> businesses going online.

That's the funny thing about statistics. It depends on which ones you read, because they almost always contradict each other. Despite the huge losses, Amazon is pulling in millions in sales. Travel agencies are cleaning up because they have global reach now. I don't have to go to my local travel agent to book a flight anymore. I can book it from any agent, anywhere, online. The one with the best offer gets the sale - and the commission.

> And yet look at the high fail rate of things
> that youíd expect people to except, like
> furniture.com, pets.com, toys.com and many,
> many other companies coming online on the
> promise that people are going to suddenly
> stop leaving their homes, stop shopping and
> sit at a computer and buy dog food,
> furniture and toys.

> Yes I know some of the failed dotcoms made
> huge sales, but I believe it was a novelty
> and generally once the novelty wore off, the
> people went back to what theyíve been doing
> for the last few hundred years.

I would have to totally disagree. The companies that went under failed because they made stupid decisions. A lot of them had venture capital behind them and didn't worry about profit from the word go. They concentrated on acquiring customers and visitors at any price... and they paid the price.

A big part of the problem is that the little guy (like you and me) often look to the big dogs to provide a role model. Except the big dogs have their "suits" sitting around a board room table deciding what to do with the company website - and the suits don't have a clue about how the net works.

It's like school days again, but the geeks are in control - and the geeks aren't at the board room table. So.. you end up with the big dogs failing at their attempts to succeed online, and the little geeks like me building companies that grow in leaps and bounds because we "do" know what works online.

About a year ago, I got a phonecall from a large company in New York. The company produced infomercials. Do you know what they said when I
answered the phone? Not hello. Oh, no... they said "How did you get on page one of Yahoo in three different categories and how much will it cost for you to tell us how to do it?"

But, I digress... or do I?

> See thatís the problem, you canít change
> human behaviour overnight. If people have
> been buying offline for centuries, then why
> are they going to suddenly change.

Price. Price. Price. That's why. Money inspires more behaviour changes that you'd believe. I won't go into the psychological reasons for it, but we can reserve that discussion for another day. :)

I wanted to bring my Mom here for a vacation a while ago. I called a local travel agent. The airfare was $675. I then went online. The airfare at another agency was $495.
I called the agency I found online. Yes, I could pay for the ticket with my credit card - and pop over to the Toronto Airport (local) to pick it up. I did. And saved $180.

I wanted to buy Eudora Pro. The price, locally, was $79.99 (CDN) That's about $52 US. I went to Eudora.com. It was $39.99 USD - and they offered a discount if you were upgrading from a previous version. I was. I bought it online.

> I actually believe there is some deception
> going on. No Iím not into conspiracy
> theories usually, but what about all the
> positive surveys about how people are in
> love with the Internet.

There is a lot of deception online. Where is there not deception when people are involved?
Probably the biggest deception are some of the
"get rich quick" programs out there... and those exist offline, too. For some reason, though, people seem to be more gullible online and they fall for garbage that they wouldn't fall for offline. Let's save that for another conversation, too... because boy, could I go on about that one! *wink*

> I especially like the one about high income
> earners practically living online. A know a
> few people like this and not one of them
> even uses the Internet, except for email.
> Theyíre all busy doing what most high income
> earners are doing, building offline empires
> and businesses.

That's a classic mistake in thinking. Do you refer to segments as your life as your "on the phone life" and your "off the phone life?" Of course not. The people who classify things as "offline" and "online" don't "get" the Internet. The Internet is not an entity until itself. It's not a place. Yes, there are people that are making money both offline and online. Some of those people run "get rich quick" programs. Others, like me, realize that the Internet is nothing more than a communications medium, and they use it in conjunction with every other communications medium. Online and offline.

I started out as a graphic artist. In 1995 I discovered the Internet and moved my business online. I've created full size advertising materials and send them to clients in other countries via email. I employ several other people, one in Italy. I send them their work via email and send them their checks via mail. I have integrated online and offline if you want to look at it that way. I prefer to say that the Internet is a means of communication that has more capabilities than my telephone. But, I use it to communicate with real people, not "online" people. Real flesh and blood people with feelings and ideas, much like you and me.

Over the years, I've added computer graphics and website development to my services. I "fell into" writing and write as a columnist. I've written for an Asian women's group, and I have design and graphics clients around the world.

> Yes I know Iím generalising. But I think I
> know why the Internet will never be much
> more than a curiosity.

I disagree with all my heart. The Internet is a communications tool, but one that many people need to learn how to use.

Here is a prime example. I was talking to a fellow who had come to clean my drapes. He said
I'm just a small dry cleaner - what benefit would a website be to me? I don't need customers all around the world." I asked him how many of the homes he goes into have computers. He said most of them... and he said that people sure talk about the Internet a lot. So I asked him if he advertises much. He said only occasionally - it's very expensive to run ads that are of sufficient size to draw much attention.

So thenI asked him if he gets good responses when he puts out coupons. He said yes. I asked him how he'd like to be able to run coupon events regularly without having to print the coupons or run an ad. I told him that he could put a coupon on his website... then all he needs to do is let his customers know that there will be a different coupon on the website every month. All they have to do is log on, see what the discount is for - and when they bring their clothing in, tell him that they saw "xyz" special on his website.

I said to him... for example - if I knew my Mom wanted to get her winter coat cleaned, and I saw his coupon on his website because he told me about his website when I got my drapes cleaned, I'd be likely to phone and tell my mom where she could get a discount.

That's when his eyes lit up... he started to see the potential.

Sadly, too many businesses have NO idea how to make their websites work for them because any material that they do find online is some hokey marketing program that assures them that all they need is a good sales letter....

But I won't go there.. at least not today..

> Itís run by the people for the people. Sure
> itís great to finally have almost complete
> cheap control over something, but that may
> will be itís downfall.

No.. it's not in a downfall. It's in a state of learning. A lot of people are going to fall. Statistics indicate that 95% of websites are failing. That's because they haven't bothered to really research and find out what works.

I predict that there will be a paradigm shift over time and eventually people will learn how the Internet works... the hard way - which is (sadly) the way many people need to learn most things.

I have big dreams, but I hope to one day be a part of changing those numbers. All my clients are profiting online. It takes business skill and a sharp learning curve, but there are enough people that are doing it to prove it's viable.

However, there are always nay-sayers. There were those that said the automobile was a passing phase, that television would never catch on, and who the hell wanted to hear actors speak?? Not to mention that air flight was the dream of crazy people. Fortunately for us, there are the visionaries. The people who believe - and achieve.. and the rest of the world benefits from their dreams and aspirations. So it will be with the Internet.

> Look at other mediums. Television,
> controlled by large companies, sure thereís
> public access, but itís not popular like
> commercial TV. Radio? Same deal, Newspapers,
> Magazines? Same again.

All those examples show me is that the ones that are run as a "for profit" business thrive. "Here's your free newspaper, ladies and gentleman - it sucks.. but it's free" doesn't work. "Here's your newspaper.. it will cost you a dollar or two - but it's a great paper" does work. Same for tv and website hosting and every other service you can think of. People don't mind paying a fair price if what they are paying for is worth the money. More people need to remember that. Offering anything that sucks.. for free.. does not create an item that many people want.

> And I think itís the same with the
> InternetÖlots of promise, but it just isnít
> happening and I think it has much to do with
> because we all have a hand in it, then weíll
> never agree on what exactly it should be.

Who is it not working for? The men and women that email their friends and family and keep their phone bill down? The lonely people that find someone to talk to when they are alone? The 350,000 people that subscribe to Ray's joke ezine cause they just like that "laugh" once a day?
It's working fine for them. That's what they want from it, and that's what they use it for.

It's not, however, working for the 95% of businesses that are failing. That's because there is a sad lack of information on how to run a business online.

It's not working for people that thought it was a fantastic new toy and still aren't sure what to do with it. They'll learn, too, in time. Once upon a time there were horse and buggies sharing the road with cars. We don't see that much anymore. As people learn that the Internet is a communication tool, they'll cease being so confused by it.

One day, instead of battling traffic to find out if the local Home Hardware has the part you need, you'll log onto their website to check their stock because you just know the 16 year old answering the phone on a Saturday afternoon won't know what part you're talking about unless you have a part number.

Even today, we (at my home) log onto the net to see a comparision list of what movies are playing at what theatres and at what times. Then we pick one - and go.. : )

> Getting back to my party survey. I found
> that most people had fallen in love with the
> Internet, surfed, bought, emailed, meet a
> few new people in other countries and then
> it had worn off, the newness of it all, the
> promise of something fantastically
> different.

> Most said after 12 months or so they didnít
> even bother going online.

I do understand that. The "average" surfer really isn't sure what to do with the Internet. That will change in time and one day the Internet will be as commonly used to get information as the telephone is today.

> Okay, so the Netís just a tool, like a phone
> or the computer itself, maybe itíll never
> realise the great promise of something
> entirely useful that everyone can fall for.
> Maybe in 50 years it may be different ,

That's one thing I'd agree on. It will grow in time. There's a great line in Louis Armstrong's song (It's a Wonderful World).. the line says,
" I hear babies cry, I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll EVER know.."

Yes, this world belongs to our children - and God give us the wisdom to guide them right and teach them the morals to make it a better place. : )

> Still, itís a good place to make money;0)

Funny though that might be as a quip, I'd like to share a tiny snippet of my history with you. Several years ago I left an ugly marriage with an alcohlic and nasty ex. I took my daughter and literally left the house with nothing in hand.
I knew that we had a lot of money in the bank.. and I mean a lot, so I wasn't worried about finances. Except it didn't turn out that way.
He'd transferred it all into his name. I had nothing. To make it worse, the divorce (which he fought) ended up costing me over 40 thousand dollars that I didn't have.

I struggled for six months to push my offline home business (graphic arts/adcopy) to do more sales. But I lived in a small city and it was tough. We barely scraped by. I refused to work outside of the home because my ex was stalking both me and my daughter. I couldn't get police help because my ex was the guy that installed their systems. (Long story) But, I was insistant on being at home when my daughter had to go anywhere.

I finally discovered the Internet. In very short order, I had customers around the globe. Within a year, I was back on my feet and making more money than I could have dreamed. Enough to move clear across the country because my business no longer relied on local clients... so we moved.

I am so, so grateful for the opportunities that the Internet gave me to grow my little business.
There isn't a day that I don't thank my lucky stars that I live in a time that allows this sort of opportunity.

I get over 200 emails a day, many from people that have sad stories and unfortunate circumstances. I answer them all. Every one. Sometimes it takes me weeks to get my email caught up, but every letter is a reminder to me that I could not offer words of inspiration to another person across the world if not for the Internet.

I could share the success stories of many of my clients, too... but this letter is far too long already. *laughing*

> What do you think?

Well... I told you what I think. Are you sorry you asked?

Just my two cents..

Linda Caroll




Your image - is my business

Richard Vaughan November 19, 2000 06:09 AM

Sit...Stay....Good Internet
 
Linda,

A very good reply indeed.

I think the point I'm trying to make and as we all probably know or can guess, is that the Internet is in it's infancy and with the growth that is needed and wanted, there will come change.

As with the telephone, who would have guessed you could identify a callers number, speak to several different people on the same line and listen to a recorded message for 60 minutes while trying to speak to a human!

And yet we have all that today, but how long did it take? Did it take the telephone 50 years, 80 years? I donít even know when it became a viable medium.

Will it take 50 years before people in the same numbers as telephone users accept the Internet into their lives on a daily basis? If people are turning off the Internet and I believe that to be true, then what will turn them back on?

Better organisation? Eventual clearer benefits? But how can this all happen when everyone who is online, has a hand in how it works to a much more extent than any other medium.

The Internet is great, maybe thatís because I make money using it and maybe itís great too for lonely people and yes it is the cheapest form of communication, but I think it offers the promise of things that will either take many, many years to achieve or may not ever eventuate due to the mediumís shear size and the fact that we all have such a hand in itís evolution.

Richard.

PS Glad you liked my thread starting;>)

PPS Also, because of itís popularity and speed of growth, many have perceived it to be some kind of replacement for other mediums, but maybe it will only ever be an alternative to other mediums and at worst a frustrating annoying roller coaster ride that delivers few benefits for others.

Finally, I'm not trying to down play the Internet's significant contribution to mankind, but sometimes I can see why many feel it';s incredibly overrated.

sandy November 19, 2000 02:27 PM

Re: Internet....You Don't Know What You Are.
 
>
> I'd like to share my thoughts and hope
> others do the same.

> . The Internet
> doesn't come with a user's manual,

After all the columns in magazines,proliferation
of internet companies with the purpose to
offer e-commerce solutions, I wonder why the
present information is not serving the needs
of internet users. I agree with you on the
point..but the question is "why?"...why are
so many businesses not "getting it"?...why don't
internet commerce businesses know how to show people how they
can use this "communication medium"(I like your
definition) to make their businesses more
successful? why are business owners mystified
in how to use it? do you think perhaps the web
designers should take more of a role in communicating how a site can bring foot traffic
to your local business? maybe web designers are
doing this-if so enlighten me...I personally know
of a small mens clothing business where the
owner spent $20,000 to design a website; got
some p.r, had 10,000 hits and didn't even have
an ezine , coupons or anything to capture the
names of those people who viewed his site...he's
still kicking himself and starting from square
1...he thought all he had to do was contract
someone to do a website and leave the promotional
aspect to them...

. The average surfer will
> use the Internet as yet another method of
> entertainment.
And why is this? what does this say about
human nature if anything?

> One of the things I've been saying for over
> four years is that the Internet is hands
> down, the fastest and cheapest method of
> communication available today... but that's
> all it is - a method of communication.

I agree here...yet I work in an office with
the best internet access and capabilites and
80% of the people still prefer to use the
phone and get caught up in voicemail tag ....
I use the net to communicate with customers
and businesses and most of the people I work
with think "that's strange"...they have plenty
of questions about the anonymity component and
accuracy of the information etc..they don't
get it...but what mystifies me even more is
they don't want to get it...I guess old habits
die hard...I'm interested in your comments on
if the media has failed to inform people what
the internet is about and WHY?

When I go to some discussion boards for example
around certain industries, I see b2b companies
popping up providing VORTALS ...yeah this makes
sense: show a small local business how to connect
with the world but they don't know how to use
the internet to boost sales in their own communities. The example you gave concerning
the dry cleaners is a perfect example...

Do you think the implication here is the magazine
media (trade journals)are deficient in providing accurate and wise information on how small to
medium size businesses can use the internet
to help their local businesses?...

Thanks for providing a stimulating post...I'm
interested in views on this issue...

Peter G. Browne November 19, 2000 04:58 PM

Re: Internet....You Don't Know What You Are.
 
In having read the posts here I see a definite trend that I always try to avoid and spend time educating my own clients in how to make a website work and how to work with the website.
The posts so far have been long to say the least, but informative, that's for sure.
There is one important detail I would just like to add. I have seen it implied, but to come right out and say it.. "Pay attention to details", miss the smallest detail and you loose a certain credibility with the potential viewer. I say potential because a classic example of detail was missed in the original post that started this thread. In posting, we all include a link or we try to include a link to our websites. As an example here, try the link left in Richard's post and ask yourself, "Is the Internet failing us or are we shooting ourselves in the foot by not paying attention?"
Q: Is this a significant point?
A: Only if you are wanting to succeed.
It makes no difference that you might be making a lot of sense with what you say, if you send your potential viewer to a dead link or a mistyped link the Internet did not fail... YOU did.
It all boils down to basic credibility.
Just my small addition to all of this.
Peter G. Browne


Website Hosting & Design With More Than Just Bells And Whistles

Linda Caroll November 19, 2000 05:06 PM

Hi Sandy.. more thoughts in response..
 
Hi Sandy!

If there's one thing I do enjoy, it's a good discussion like this one... which is my way of saying thanks for posting. : )

The first part of your question is almost two questions, or perhaps two answers, so I've divided it in half..

> After all the columns in magazines, >proliferation of internet companies with the >purpose to offer e-commerce solutions, I wonder >why the present information is not serving the >needs of internet users. I agree with you on >the point..but the question is "why?"...why are
> so many businesses not "getting it"?... why >don't internet commerce businesses know how to
> show people how they can use >this "communication medium"(I like your
> definition) to make their businesses more
> successful? why are business owners
> mystified in how to use it?

In a sense, the root of the problem (in my humble opinion) is the same thing that's the root of the problem for many things. Money. You would think that with the proliferation of ecommerce companies out there, that there would be an abundance of information to help the business owner, right? Not so. You see, the ecommerce companies want to make "their" sale.. and often at the cost of the bottom line to the consumer.

Here's a prime example. I had a design client come to me because his site "didn't work." He wasn't making sales. The first thing I did was test run his ecommerce system by making a "dummy" purchase using a test credit card number. The cart was slow, took over 5 clicks to get to the point where a purchase could be made, and was hard to navigate. I asked him if he was open to changing to a new shopping cart. He replied that after signing up for his merchant account, he was told that "this" was the only shopping cart that was compatable with his merchant gateway.

I know of at least two merchant account companies that pull this garbage. They make it "easy" to qualify... sign up the client for a 6-12 month term - and *then* comes the fun. "Oh.. you need a shopping cart? We didn't realize that. Well, we do have one that works with our gateway. It's *x* number of dollars to purchase outright or "y" number of dollars to lease per month.

It's pretty scummy... but it happens all the time. And - while it makes the sale for the ecommerce company, it sure doesn't educate the business owner very well. In addition, it puts the business owner in the mindset of "once burned, twice shy".

>do you think perhaps the web
> designers should take more of a role in
> communicating how a site can bring foot
> traffic to your local business? maybe web
> designers are doing this-if so enlighten me...I > personally know of a small mens clothing
> business where the owner spent $20,000 to >design a website; got some p.r, had 10,000 hits >and didn't even have an ezine , coupons or >anything to capture the names of those people >who viewed his site...he's still kicking himself >and starting from square 1...he thought all he >had to do was contract someone to do a website >and leave the promotional aspect to them...

I wish I coulc tell you that most designers educate their customers. Sadly, it's not true.
You see, with the arrival of html tools, a lot of "designers," armed with their software, have hung their shingle out without having the first clue about how to develop a business.. which, in essence, is what we do when we develop a website.

I had a lawyer email me in a panic one day. She'd paid handsomely to have her site developed and was ecstatic with it. Until a client told her that the page had huge white (blank) spaces in it - and was missing information when loaded in the "other" browser.

Then there's the story of the company who bought a series of ads in a huge publication (with over 22 thousand subscribers) .. blissfully unaware that their site loaded in only ONE version of ONE browser.

Then there is the website design company that contacted me for consultation about why no one was signing up for their newsletter. I went to check it out and asked "what newsletter?" The designer replied "You know... the one in the popup that loads when you load the main page" Turns out the popup only worked in Netscape 4.x.
Considering that 75% of the net is now using some version of IE, and some of the remaining Netscape users are using 6.0 - is it any wonder?

I could go on and on.. but the sad fact is that finding a website developer that knows how to build a business (not just design a site) and also knows what "works" on the internet is as rare as the proverbial needle in a haystack.

> . The average surfer will
> And why is this? what does this say about
> human nature if anything?

*smiling* It tells me that we humans still like and need entertainment... that a smile is still a welcome addition to every day and that laughter is good for the soul. Heaven forbid that should ever change. Even when we "work" we need to be able to feel good about it and have something to laugh about.

> I agree here...yet I work in an office with
> the best internet access and capabilites and
> 80% of the people still prefer to use the
> phone and get caught up in voicemail tag
> ....
> I use the net to communicate with customers
> and businesses and most of the people I work
> with think "that's strange"...they
> have plenty of questions about the anonymity >component and accuracy of the information
> etc..they don't get it...but what mystifies me > even more is they don't want to get it...I
> guess old habits die hard...I'm interested in
> your comments on if the media has failed to
> inform people what the internet is about and
> WHY?

Do you know what I really think, Sandy? Your comments about your co-workers reminded me of a situation that happened about 20 years ago when I was working in the corporate jungle. Being in management in Canada's largest retail chain, it was often my responsibility to oversee staff training or assigning someone to handle relevant training. We brought in computerized cash registers... one of the first stores in town to get them. I remember one sweet little lady.. she was about mid 40's then .. coming to me and asking me if I would demote her and assign her a position in the store cafeteria cleaning tables or washing dishes. I was stunned and asked her why. She said she did not want to learn to use the cash registers. I promised her that it would be just fine and she would learn them along with everyone else. No, no, she insisted, she did not want to. I took the lady for coffee and we had a heart to heart. She was crying as she told me that she was sure she was going to make a mistake and mess up and wreck the machine. Then - she got to the heart of the matter... and told me that she was afraid she would find out that she was too stupid to learn it, and that it was better not to try.

I made the lady a promise. I told her I'd personally train her myself and stand by her side until she told me she didn't need me there if only she would try it. She did. I don't know which of us was prouder when she told me she didn't need me to stand there anymore.

I really think that a lot of people are intimidated by this "new" medium. They don't know if it's "safe" and they don't know what to think of "privacy" issues... they are out of their element in a sense, so they revert to familiar ground... the telephone.

That's why they "dont want to get it.." - we humans, as a whole, have a tendency to gravitate to the familiar. It's the rare few that embrace change with excitement.

As for the media, I don't know that they have failed to inform the public so much as perhaps many of them aren't any more sure of it than many of your co workers. There are a couple of media people that have great knowledge about the Internet and I see their articles regularly at Salon Magazine and Clickz... but on the whole, I think a lot of the media "doesn't get it" either.

Then again, perhaps it's deeper than that. Perhaps it's that the media is writing for their target audience, and their target audience "doesn't get it" so they write at a comprehension level that the public can and will understand. You know, I think I might put that question out to some media contacts. : )

> When I go to some discussion boards for
> example around certain industries, I see b2b
> companies popping up providing VORTALS ...yeah > this makes sense: show a small local business
> how to connect with the world but they don't
> know how to use the internet to boost sales in > their own communities. The example you gave
> concerning the dry cleaners is a perfect
> example...

I agree. In a sense, it boils down to the same situation as the ecommerce companies. Every portal site wants the numbers.. they need them to get the advertisers. Their concept is good.. their follow through isn't so good. In a sense, many of them are learning what works as they implement it. Trial and error.. and the small business that follows the advice given during the trial and error phase ends up paying the price.

> Do you think the implication here is the
> magazine media (trade journals)are deficient in
> providing accurate and wise information on
> how small to medium size businesses can use the > internet to help their local businesses?...

In a sense, yes. Not intentionally. I don't think anyone can learn "how" it works without actually doing it. A tarde journalist isn't depending on their website to provide their income. They are relying on information provided by third party resources... by interviewing this person or that. If the information they are given isn't accurate, they don't know that because their paycheck does not depend on it.

The person being interviewed often wants the publicity, so they say what they say for their own reasons.

The sheer number of "marketing gurus" that spew garbage amazes me.. and journalists print it.. and people read it and follow it.. and who pays the price? The small business person that followed erroneous advice because they thought it was the right thing to do.

(I think I need to start a thread on good advice versus bad advice... *laughing*)

> Thanks for providing a stimulating
> post...I'm interested in views on this issue...

You're very welcome... and thanks again for posting..

Sincerely,
Linda Caroll




Your image - is my business

Richard Vaughan November 19, 2000 06:25 PM

Method in my Sloppiness
 
Peter,

Thanks for the interesting comments..especially this one...
=====================
In posting, we all include a link or we try to include a link to our websites. As an example here, try the link left in Richard's post and ask yourself, "Is the Internet failing us or are we shooting ourselves in the foot by not paying attention?"
Q: Is this a significant point?
A: Only if you are wanting to succeed.
It makes no difference that you might be making a lot of sense with what you say, if you send your potential viewer to a dead link or a mistyped link the Internet did not fail... YOU did.
It all boils down to basic credibility.

===============================

Would you believe I made the link dead on purpose? I'm putting together a sales piece and out of curiosity I wanted to see if anything would happen if I left it dead.

Sure enough I've had a few emails about it, so I know that the header I'm working on is at the very least....intriguing.

Richard

PS Oh no I just had a thought....maybe when it's live, no one will click through because they'll presume it's dead!! Nah....you humans are way to inquisitive for that;>)

sandy November 19, 2000 08:54 PM

Re: Hi Sandy.. more thoughts in response..
 
Just thought I would share with you a
website which "gets it"...the website was
initially a "non profit" model..the webowner
did it out of "love" of helping people....by
word of mouth it grew and now other cities
are asking Craig to build a site for them...
It's all about connecting people to resources
in their communities..and now the website which
is now "profit"(money from employers who advertise job announcements) is still "helping"
others to achieve their goals...It's a win/win..
Now what I find interesting is Craigs' website
is providing more of a community service than
many "non profits" on line proposing to do what
he's doing...
I happen to like sharing websites which "get
it" and hope you like it too...
http://www.craigslist.org

sandy November 19, 2000 09:04 PM

Article on resistance of small businesses
 
>In my post below I meant to share an
article about some of the apprehensions
of small businesses to getting a website
and note also the comment about websites
and local business development..
this is the article:
http://cyberatlas.internet.com/markets/smallbiz/article/0,1323,10098_243871,00.html

Hi Sandy!

> If there's one thing I do enjoy, it's a good
> discussion like this one... which is my way
> of saying thanks for posting. : )

> The first part of your question is almost
> two questions, or perhaps two answers, so
> I've divided it in half..

> In a sense, the root of the problem (in my
> humble opinion) is the same thing that's the
> root of the problem for many things. Money.
> You would think that with the proliferation
> of ecommerce companies out there, that there
> would be an abundance of information to help
> the business owner, right? Not so. You see,
> the ecommerce companies want to make
> "their" sale.. and often at the
> cost of the bottom line to the consumer.

> Here's a prime example. I had a design
> client come to me because his site
> "didn't work." He wasn't making
> sales. The first thing I did was test run
> his ecommerce system by making a
> "dummy" purchase using a test
> credit card number. The cart was slow, took
> over 5 clicks to get to the point where a
> purchase could be made, and was hard to
> navigate. I asked him if he was open to
> changing to a new shopping cart. He replied
> that after signing up for his merchant
> account, he was told that "this"
> was the only shopping cart that was
> compatable with his merchant gateway.

> I know of at least two merchant account
> companies that pull this garbage. They make
> it "easy" to qualify... sign up
> the client for a 6-12 month term - and
> *then* comes the fun. "Oh.. you need a
> shopping cart? We didn't realize that. Well,
> we do have one that works with our gateway.
> It's *x* number of dollars to purchase
> outright or "y" number of dollars
> to lease per month.

> It's pretty scummy... but it happens all the
> time. And - while it makes the sale for the
> ecommerce company, it sure doesn't educate
> the business owner very well. In addition,
> it puts the business owner in the mindset of
> "once burned, twice shy".

> I wish I coulc tell you that most designers
> educate their customers. Sadly, it's not
> true.
> You see, with the arrival of html tools, a
> lot of "designers," armed with
> their software, have hung their shingle out
> without having the first clue about how to
> develop a business.. which, in essence, is
> what we do when we develop a website.

> I had a lawyer email me in a panic one day.
> She'd paid handsomely to have her site
> developed and was ecstatic with it. Until a
> client told her that the page had huge white
> (blank) spaces in it - and was missing
> information when loaded in the
> "other" browser.

> Then there's the story of the company who
> bought a series of ads in a huge publication
> (with over 22 thousand subscribers) ..
> blissfully unaware that their site loaded in
> only ONE version of ONE browser.

> Then there is the website design company
> that contacted me for consultation about why
> no one was signing up for their newsletter.
> I went to check it out and asked "what
> newsletter?" The designer replied
> "You know... the one in the popup that
> loads when you load the main page"
> Turns out the popup only worked in Netscape
> 4.x.
> Considering that 75% of the net is now using
> some version of IE, and some of the
> remaining Netscape users are using 6.0 - is
> it any wonder?

> I could go on and on.. but the sad fact is
> that finding a website developer that knows
> how to build a business (not just design a
> site) and also knows what "works"
> on the internet is as rare as the proverbial
> needle in a haystack.

> *smiling* It tells me that we humans still
> like and need entertainment... that a smile
> is still a welcome addition to every day and
> that laughter is good for the soul. Heaven
> forbid that should ever change. Even when we
> "work" we need to be able to feel
> good about it and have something to laugh
> about.

> Do you know what I really think, Sandy? Your
> comments about your co-workers reminded me
> of a situation that happened about 20 years
> ago when I was working in the corporate
> jungle. Being in management in Canada's
> largest retail chain, it was often my
> responsibility to oversee staff training or
> assigning someone to handle relevant
> training. We brought in computerized cash
> registers... one of the first stores in town
> to get them. I remember one sweet little
> lady.. she was about mid 40's then .. coming
> to me and asking me if I would demote her
> and assign her a position in the store
> cafeteria cleaning tables or washing dishes.
> I was stunned and asked her why. She said
> she did not want to learn to use the cash
> registers. I promised her that it would be
> just fine and she would learn them along
> with everyone else. No, no, she insisted,
> she did not want to. I took the lady for
> coffee and we had a heart to heart. She was
> crying as she told me that she was sure she
> was going to make a mistake and mess up and
> wreck the machine. Then - she got to the
> heart of the matter... and told me that she
> was afraid she would find out that she was
> too stupid to learn it, and that it was
> better not to try.

> I made the lady a promise. I told her I'd
> personally train her myself and stand by her
> side until she told me she didn't need me
> there if only she would try it. She did. I
> don't know which of us was prouder when she
> told me she didn't need me to stand there
> anymore.

> I really think that a lot of people are
> intimidated by this "new" medium.
> They don't know if it's "safe" and
> they don't know what to think of
> "privacy" issues... they are out
> of their element in a sense, so they revert
> to familiar ground... the telephone.

> That's why they "dont want to get
> it.." - we humans, as a whole, have a
> tendency to gravitate to the familiar. It's
> the rare few that embrace change with
> excitement.

> As for the media, I don't know that they
> have failed to inform the public so much as
> perhaps many of them aren't any more sure of
> it than many of your co workers. There are a
> couple of media people that have great
> knowledge about the Internet and I see their
> articles regularly at Salon Magazine and
> Clickz... but on the whole, I think a lot of
> the media "doesn't get it" either.

> Then again, perhaps it's deeper than that.
> Perhaps it's that the media is writing for
> their target audience, and their target
> audience "doesn't get it" so they
> write at a comprehension level that the
> public can and will understand. You know, I
> think I might put that question out to some
> media contacts. : )

> I agree. In a sense, it boils down to the
> same situation as the ecommerce companies.
> Every portal site wants the numbers.. they
> need them to get the advertisers. Their
> concept is good.. their follow through isn't
> so good. In a sense, many of them are
> learning what works as they implement it.
> Trial and error.. and the small business
> that follows the advice given during the
> trial and error phase ends up paying the
> price.

> In a sense, yes. Not intentionally. I don't
> think anyone can learn "how" it
> works without actually doing it. A tarde
> journalist isn't depending on their website
> to provide their income. They are relying on
> information provided by third party
> resources... by interviewing this person or
> that. If the information they are given
> isn't accurate, they don't know that because
> their paycheck does not depend on it.

> The person being interviewed often wants the
> publicity, so they say what they say for
> their own reasons.

> The sheer number of "marketing
> gurus" that spew garbage amazes me..
> and journalists print it.. and people read
> it and follow it.. and who pays the price?
> The small business person that followed
> erroneous advice because they thought it was
> the right thing to do.

> (I think I need to start a thread on good
> advice versus bad advice... *laughing*)

> You're very welcome... and thanks again for
> posting..

> Sincerely,
> Linda Caroll

Dien Rice November 19, 2000 09:22 PM

The internet revolution.... going... going...
 
Actually, I think it's still coming.... I think that an internet connection is well on its way to becoming as standard as a phone line....

Richard, I agree that the internet probably hasn't yet revolutionized the world of the average "Joe" or "Jill" yet....

Though there certainly are pockets of the population where things have changed significantly....

The first example I thought of came from the world of physics research....

In the past in physics research (and practically all university-based research), to get your work publically known, you would publish it in a journal and present it at conferences.

That hasn't really changed, except now there is a useful step before that, which is a "pre-print" server.... For your writings before they have gone to publication.

It was the brain-child of a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and you can see what I mean at http://xxx.lanl.gov . (Most of these are technical papers, but it's so you can see what I mean by a pre-print server.)

At this web site you can see all the latest physics and mathematics research developments, *before* they reach print.... You can view these research papers in various formats, including PDF....

This has meant that often now the *first* place a piece of research work appears is no longer in a journal, but on the above web site, sometimes over a year before it appears in print.

Some think that a service like this will eventually completely overtake the standard technical print journals for university research. (I personally doubt it, but some do think this.)

I guess there are other places where things have been "revolutionized" too.... I can think of the various stores who put their "unusual" wares on Ebay, and have been making a nice extra profit....

The various online bookstores are great for looking for those hard-to-get books, and also the second-hand bookstore searches like www.abe.com and www.bibliofind.com are also great for finding copies of out-of-print books....

It also seems to depend where you are. Only a few months ago I was in Boston, and it seems that there practically every store and restaurant has its URL blazed across the window. That hasn't happened here in Oz yet, but I'm sure we're going to be heading that way.... Where every store front window has a URL, and everyone's business card has one too....

Thanks for bringing up an interesting topic.... :)

Dien Rice


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