February 5, 2001-- Newsletter #116

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
February 5, 2001--Newsletter #116

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.

Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

I am again teaching my HTML course both online and in class. I get such a kick out of the faces on the students during the class. When they set an HTML flag, reload the page and the text alters, the whole class says, Oooooo. Thats a great feeling. Luckily I get to see that again and again each semester. They love the language now but later in the semester, tables, frames, and some DHTML are in store. I wonder how theyll feel then?

Did you hear...

He who names domains holds the power. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has chosen a new leader. The body chose M. Stuart Lynn to succeed Michael Roberts as president and CEO. Lynn is an academic coming from the University of California office of the President. He acted as the Chief Information Officer until his retirement in 1999. Back to work...

The first air flight to allow Internet connection took off January 23rd from Montreal Quebec. Air Canada Flight 413 allowed passengers to surf the Web, send, and receive email, and all sorts of other Web stuff. Cool, huh?

Volkswagen won its case against cybersquatter Virtual Works. The domain VW.com was purchased by Virtual Works who suggested they could sell it to the car company for a bundle. That was their downfall, telling of their cash plan. In addition, the company never actually used the domain name as part of their business. Oops.

Now onto todays topic...

Have you heard about...IT?

IT is out there.

IT will be the next biggest thing.

IT likes to be called Ginger.

No one quite knows what IT is, but IT is going to be big.


Have you heard about...IT?

IT is the code name for an invention that is getting stunning press lately. The problem is that no one really knows what IT is. We know the inventor of IT. His name is Dean Kamen. Hes an inventor but hes no Ron Popiel. Kamen invented the drug diffusion pump, a specific format of heart stint that Vice President Dick Chaney uses, and the iBot wheelchair. Each of these inventions is revolutionary in their own right, but its the newest invention, IT, that has people all abuzz.

Ive been asked numerous times what I think IT might be. Each time Ive answered that IT is probably not what we all think IT is.

My guess is that IT is not really the word it but is rather the initials I and T. That is an acronym standing for Information Technology or, as I heard a reporter suggest, Individual Transportation. Of course it could also be Information Transportation or Iggy Thompson, a guy I went to school with in Cleveland.

I think that the nickname Ginger is also an acronym, but I cant seem to make it spell out another classmates name.

I have heard some say that IT does not exist and that Kamen, and those who claim to have seen IT, are only undertaking a societal experiment that is meant to prove that the public will swallow anything the media feeds them and in great quantities.


I somewhat doubt that scenario. There are simply too many big names involved. None of those big names will want to be attached to an angry public if this really is a hoax.

That scenario might be and I can sometimes see it, but I am leaning toward another line of thinking. IT is real. IT exists. IT is going to come out with more hype than next years New Orleans Saints.

The question then must be, if this thing exists, what is it? Of course the media has weighed in with their suggestions. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you see it, one version of IT has risen to the top and is the current belief of what IT will be.

IT is...

A scooter!

What? A scooter? Really?

Yes. As far as my sources can find, IT is some kind of personal transportation devise. That would only make sense. The inventor, Kamen, just invented the wheelchair to end all wheelchairs. Why couldnt IT be a scooter?

Well...because IT would be a scooter!

ABCs Good Morning America sent a bunch of poor unfortunate Communication major interns to the patent office to comb through drawings and they came back with a line drawing of a scooter.

The image is very basic. Its flat platform with a single giant wheel. The user stands astride the giant wheel and holds onto a post coming from in front of the wheel. Apparently the wheel is motorized and can reach speeds of up to 60 miles-per-hour. If youve ever ridden a motorcycle, then you know that at that speed bugs become projectiles.

This thing, IT, is being touted as something that will be bigger than the Internet. It will make the inventor richer than Bill Gates in under a year. Some of the greatest minds in science, including Steve Jobs, have seen the IT prototypes and went on TV to proclaim that its going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread AND floor wax.

The Harvard Business School Press gave the inventor a quarter- million dollar advance to write about IT. Rumor is that even they dont know what IT is.

With all of this hype and all of these names, and all of this money being thrown around, IT must be spectacular. It must be the Meepzork!

(Note: the Meepzork is a word representing the next best thing that no one really knows about yet. Read about it here: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/letters/015.html)

Its going to be big! Its going to be revolutionary. Its going to stop the world in its tracks! Its... Its...

...a scooter.

A fellow professor who agrees its a scooter met my concerns about IT being just a scooter with the line, Yes, but it will be a very advanced scooter.

I about fell on the floor when he said that. I mean, call it what you want, but if the media folk are correct, then IT is a personal transportation devise that is basically...

...a scooter.

Maybe Im just the cynical type but if I had been in the room when Jobs watched IT roll around for the first time, I think Id have had to ask if there was any more to it. I mean, its a nice scooter, but what else does it do?

Ive read that is disallows the user to fall. It disallows other items to run into it. It goes 60 miles an hour. It can hover above the ground. It comes in six flashy colors. Even if all of that is true, Im still stuck on the fact that its a scooter.

I dislike making bold predictions because Ive been proven wrong in the past, but I believe that IT is one of two things.

First, it might be the scooter. If it is, itll probably be very popular, but so was Baywatch. Will it be bigger than the Internet? Will it make the inventor richer than Bill Gates? Not unless it is one heck of a scooter that does a few scooter things that I simply cannot imagine at this point. If it is a scooter, then a marketing group that knows the media can be manipulated in time of slow news days and a few appearances by big names is overstating IT.

Second....someone is pulling our collective legs. When I read about IT and all the hype, I get the same feeling of being duped as when a phone company calls me during dinner to tell me they can save me big bucks.

Who knows? IT may truly be the Meepzork that stops the world cold. Maybe it will make travel an individual thing. Maybe it can go across water. Maybe it comes with a cup holder.

If IT is for real...I just cant imagine that IT is a scooter.


Thats that. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: Everything has become a science these days, even the correct number of shakes per minute an orchard farmer uses to get the largest yield. According to my sources, plum and apple trees yield the most fruit when shaken 400 times per minute, two inches per shake. Cherry trees respond best to 1200 short shakes per minute.

Of course, a machine is involved (maybe IT).

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