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Re: AM: 12/97 I-World

To:     "" <>
Subject:     Re: AM: 12/97 I-World
From:     Ross Stapleton-Gray <>
Date:     Sun, 14 Dec 1997 22:35:52 -0500 (EST)

On Sun, 14 Dec 1997, Paul Albert wrote:

> I was at the Sanford Wallace session and found it very
> invigorating.  As easy as it is to see Sanford as a force
> causing great wrong to the Internet and its future, the
> fact is that if Sanford didn't exist, the Internet would create
> him.  It is just so inexpensive to spam and the companiess
> that decide to do it have no brand to protect and can only
> gain (it is bottom feeders serving bottom feeders).

It's actually pretty surprising that the Spam market is as behaved as it
is.  Notwithstanding that a spammer who's forged return addresses was
successfully taken on in court (Tracy LaQuey Parker's case, where the
spammer was causing her great inconvenience by dumping all his hostile
return traffic in her lap), it's still a pretty safe "hit & run" medium,
yet we haven't seen anything like guerilla abuse of legitimate brands.

While I see a lot of spam personally, and have to worry about spam
hassling clients (and even had one who was reported to me for bush-league
resume spamming), I'm also of the opinion that spammers are an almost
necessary evil.  One could think of them as the common cold virus: they'll
never go away, and from time to time they can make life unpleasant, but
absent a little exercising of the immune system, the human body would be
underdeveloped, and open to worse effects.  Spam will provide more impetus
to the necessary work of establishing protocols and authorities for
authentication than most anything else.

> The product that I felt exemplified the potential of the Internet the
> most was Alexa ( which serves as a real time
> context sensitive Zagats Guide to Internet sites that synthesizes your
> and everyone else's experience to suggest related sites you might be
> interested in.  It was also fun speaking with Brewster Kahle, founder of
> Alexa, who also founded Thinking Machines and WAIS Inc.  BTW, Brewster
> went out and archived 640,000 sites on the Internet and has a database 8
> terabytes large. 

I first met Brewster years ago, back when I was in the Intelligence
Community and he was first pushing WAIS as an information retrieval
standard.  He's now working out of facilities in the Presidio in SF; the
most enthusiastic supporter of WAIS-like information management in these
parts is Elliot Christian, at USGS, who's the spirit behind GILS, the
Government Information Locater Service, which is supposed to be the
Ur-catalog of all government information.  But Elliot is a technology
taker; Brewster and his ilk are the makers... it would be nice to see more
craziness more locally.

Alexa is an interesting concept, but dependent on users deploying an Alexa
client;  Brewster said that they'd certainly considered talking with the
(two) browser companies, and I got the sense that there was some
possibility that Alexa would go that route eventually.  Absent such a
tight bundling, I'm not sure how large the user population will grow.  But
it is seemingly useful.  One of the more interesting comments made was
that, while some of the recommendations it makes comes from structure of
the Web's links (if 200 Web sites recommend both sites A and B through
links, then if you're looking at A, maybe you'll want to see B), and some
comes from explicit behavior of Alexa users (since they track everything
you do through their client), Brewster also gets the major proxy sites on
the Net to give him some traffic stats.

> I have not missed a spring or winter I-World show for the past three
> years and do not plan on missing one in the years to come.  The industry
> changes too fast.  If you want to know what is going on in broad sense,
> you need to go to I-World. 

I found I-World, as large as it was, to be only a slice of the industry,
and I suspect that the industry is now vast enough to have branched into
many subareas.  There were a few banner ad management software service
companies, but where was, say, DoubleClick, a NYC-based company, and the
rest of the ad content crowd? I suspect you'll have to go to a Web
advertising-specific conference to meet all the players in that segment. 
I've seen promotional literature on a first on-line classified ad
conference to happen in January; there were a very few electronic
map-related companies at I-World, but I suspect you could fill a minor
convention hall with several dozen, in a more tightly-themed event. 

Ross Stapleton-Gray                     TeleDiplomacy, Inc.                    2503 Columbia Pike, Suite 118
Director, Electronic Embassy Program    Arlington VA 22204                  +1 703 685-5197 / 5257 fax

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