January 16, 2001-- Newsletter #113
Goodies to Go (tm)
January 16, 2001--Newsletter #113
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warrior,
My wife and I received a Christmas present from Network Solutions, the domain people. A few days before Christmas we got up and noticed that my wife's art site, StreetArtist.com was dead. Because we bought the domain from another person, we didn't have a full two years left on the ticker. The email on the domain wasn't correct so I never received a request to make the renewal payment. So... It died.
It took my server people and me a small amount of time to figure out exactly what happened. When we did, I jumped on line and made payment with a personal credit card and 36 hours later the site popped back to life.
Did you hear...
TurboTax is showing a great slow down in sales. Tax time is just around the corner and December is usually a big month for the purchase of tax software. Could it be that people are leaving the cyber-world and might go back to doing their taxes by hand? No, says Intuit, the maker of TurboTax. The software company says many people might use an online version or another piece of software. I am personally going back to my real-time accountant. Some things need to be done face to face with a pro. This, to me, is one of them.
What if you had to pay a long distance charges if you visit a server in China the next time to go surfing? A bill before the California Public Utilities Commission might make that a reality. The bill would make ISP attachments subject to charges equal to making a phone call. As it stands, all ISP connections are currently being treated as local traffic. That doesn't make for big long-distance profits. If I see a result on the vote, I'll let you know.
One of my favorite sites, Salon.com, is cutting 25 people from its work force due to fourth quarter losses. A co-founder, Andrew Ross, has also handed in his resignation in order to spend more time with his family.
On the good side of e-commerce, in 1999 KMart.com was a stinker. In 2000, the newly revamped bluelight.com, formerly KMart.com, showed sales over ten times as high.
Now onto today's topic...
I was initially writing this newsletter on Christmas morning, December 25th. I was up very, very early, long before my wife and parents get up so I had the house and the Internet, it seems, all to myself. You should have originally gotten this email around the first or second day of the year. That got me to thinking.
[Editors note: We chose to give Joe a break not to send a newsletter over the New Years holiday. This newsletter was updated for this week.]
In terms of computers and the Internet, what will the year 2000 be remembered for ten years from now?
I guess one could argue that it could be remembered for the computer bug that was supposed to hit but never did, but I doubt it. A non-story will never dominate history.
The dot-com Super Bowl was a big story, but not one for the annals of history.
How about AOL and Time Warner teaming up? Bill Gates was big this past year. Microsoft and its monopoly worries dominated the headlines. Wireless came into being. The presidential election and all the online coverage was pretty popular at the end of the year. That's always helpful when being remembered for history. If the event occurred at the end of the year, when all the recaps are being written, then maybe that event will have a better chance of being recorded.
It seemed to me that 2000 was the year of the nasty people. Viruses and hacking became the new blood sport. The Goodies To Go newsletter began to relay a new attack every week.
The freeware/shareware shelves began to dry up this year. Other software, however, came to the forefront, like Linux. A couple of new business practices were given cyber-names, B2B and P2P. The acronyms stood for "Business to Business" and "Person to Person".
The Victoria Secret fashion show became the most watched Webcast. Danni Ashe became the most downloaded woman on the web. Yahoo remained the top visited site on the Web. Super- hacker Kevin Mitnick was released from jail and told to stay away from computers. Steven King put out an e-book and hardly anyone paid the requested one-dollar fee. A city in Oregon changed its name to half.com. Microsoft got hacked. Wazzupp was being said by any number of Superheroes and grandmothers. Sting sued a cybersquatter and lost. And, we were all asked to shock the monkey and win.
No, I think all of those stories will fall by the wayside. In the near future, the year 2000 will be remembered for two stories, but as time goes one, one will dominate.
The debate over NAPSTER almost dominated the year and will have real staying power in the coming months. NAPSTER creator Shawn Fanning and the site he created will continue to cause its share of headaches for the music industry but also cause a tremendous amount of debate. I have never received more email over a newsletter than the piece I wrote regarding NAPSTER.
Metallica and Dr. Dre were vilified for speaking out against their music being shared around the Web. That lead to wonderfully funny send-ups on Mtv and Camp Chaos.com. Limp Bizkit, Chuck D, and Prince led the way on the pro-NAPSTER side. It was all a good time when the quotes started flying.
However, I think what NAPSTER will most be remembered for is not free music and MP3. I think where NAPSTER will make its mark in history is concerning the concept of ownership in a digital age. Can you really claim ownership over an idea? If so, how is one to keep a handle on that ownership when the technology of today allows such rapid recreation and distribution of that idea?
That's where NAPSTER will make its biggest mark in history. The site brought the question of ownership in a digital age to light in a plausible, non-academic media blitz.
NAPSTER will not be the top story of 2000 when historians look back. That coveted crown will belong to the to the crash of the dot-coms.
It is my opinion that the year 2000 will be remembered as the year the party ended and the piles of investor money ceased rolling in. Dot-coms were expected to, I shudder to think it, make a profit. The Web became corporate not because it wanted to but because it had to. The new economy that was to be created stumbled and when it got back up, it was expected to fall into line with the same rules that governed the brick and mortar stores.
E-commerce war rooms that once ran on a generation-X set of rules now were hiring suit-and-tie clad economists to help with the monetary side of things. It was no longer enough to simply be creative. Creativity now had to lead to profitability. Profitability had to be by a wide enough margin to attract investors. People began to be laid off in droves.
The second and third quarters of 2000 saw what was once unthinkable. The dot-com graveyard began to fill up.
Politics.com, Living.com, Eve.com, FreeScholarships.com, Pop.com, ToySmart.com, WorldSpy.com, and an absolute slew of local mom and pop sites too small to have made the national media.
I think the exclamation point was set on the top story of 2000 when the sock puppet, that had become such an icon of the new economy, died. You could almost hear the collective gasp in November when Pets.com closed its cyber-doors.
So those are my picks for the future. Those are my picks for the two stories that will dominate the writings of history when students revisit the year 2000 many years from now.
If I could leave you on a high note after what reads like a fairly "down" topic. From the majority of my readings, many financial analysts are predicting that the e-commerce shake out is just about over and many are looking for 2001 to be the turn around year for the NASDAQ and the DOW.
Contrary to what many think, I'm an optimist and I am putting my money where my mutual funds are because I believe the turn around is eminent.
Here's to brighter days in the future.
That's That. We have begun a new year and I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to continue to write and deliver these weekly tirades into your email box.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And Remember: This year, take a trip to the largest pyramids in the world. Travel to Mexico. Although not as tall as the Cheops pyramid in Egypt, the Quetzacoatl pyramid at Choluta de Rivadabia in Mexico occupies 43 acres of ground. The Cheops pyramid only covers 13 acres. Another difference between the two structures is that the Mexican pyramids were not used for burial but rather as sites for ceremonies. Thus, there weren't a lot of treasures to be found deep inside.