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October 12, 2000 -- Business implications of free massive disk space on the Web

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, October 12, 2000. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM US Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4) on Thursdays.

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Threads (reconstructed after the fact):

Today's Participants

Richard Seltzer (Home Page)

Bob Zwick (Home Page)


11:48 - Richard Seltzer

Welcome, we'll be starting in about 10 minutes, at noon Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4). Today we want to talk about the business implications of free massive disk space: the resources that are out there, the creative uses people are likely to put them to, and the problems and business opportunities that are likely to result.

12:01 - Richard

It's time to get started. As you connect, please introduce yourselves and let us know your interests.

12:08 - Bob Zwick

Hello everyone - I'm Bob Zwick an independent software developer and Author of eBookIt

12:11 - Richard Seltzer

Welcome, Bob. Glad you could make it.

12:12 - Bob Zwick

Glad to be here.

Today's resources and their limitations

12:13 - Richard Seltzer

I believe that disk space has been the bottleneck slowing down the creation of multi-media content by the masses, and that the availability of unlimited disk space for free on the Web could make an enormous difference. But it isn't all that easy. While NBCi has this unlimited offer, for instance, their response time is awful (at least that's been my experience). Do you know of alternative resources?

12:13 - Bob Zwick

That is glad

12:16 - Richard Seltzer

I'm itching to create audio files -- and use your eBookIt to make lots of audio articles and audio books. But Web space is essential -- One little 100-page book, my Lizard of Oz, takes about 20 Mbytes in that format. I could easily use up a gigabyte in a month.

12:17 - Bob Zwick

I've been looking a several resources. Most give 50 or 100mb The key to being useful is , as you mention, response time, but also ease of placing files on them. If they don't offer FTP then it's a waste of time trying to send one file at a time. Especially for books that contain many files.

12:26 - Richard Seltzer

Of course, the response time is changing dynamically all the time. The sites that happen to be good will attract more do-it-yourself multi-media folks, which will quickly degrade performance. We're likely to be in an awkward phase for a while -- disk space and bandwidth not keeping up with the demand generated by the creativity of the masses.

12:18 - Richard Seltzer

Aside from the free sites, I believe that there are some very low cost ones that offer unlimited space. Have you heard anything about terranet?

12:19 - Richard Seltzer

For now, I'm depending on my regular ISP -- Acunet -- which has generously increased my disk space. I just know that I'll quickly surpass any limit they assign, once I get going. And video takes up even more space than audio.

12:27 - Bob Zwick

One of the most promising unlimited disk space sites I have found is They boast very high speed backbone connections with unlimited disk space on a unix server for $9.95 per month. Have to add $1.00 per month for RealMedia service so that makes it $10.95 not bad if you want to publish GBs of content.

12:29 - Richard Seltzer

Thanks for the pointer. What do they mean by RealMedia service? You can record with RealProducer for files to be made available over an ordinary Web server, just like any other files. What different do you get with RealMedia service?

12:31 - Bob Zwick

I'm not sure exactly what the "RealMedia Service" entails, but I do know that certain Real Media productions require push from a "RealServer". That may be the determining factor, but I'm not sure.

12:33 - Richard Seltzer

My experience is just with audio and setting the optimum speed at 28K. Perhaps a RealServer is required when you want to set up so the receiver has a choice of speeds, and perhaps for video. I'll have to look into that.

12:28 - Richard Seltzer

It's funny how most articles dealing with multimedia presume that that is the realm of the big guys -- companies with the money and the resources to do polished television-style movie-style presentation. I expect the real action and the real creativity will happen at the low end -- with the do-it-yourselfers.

12:29 - Bob Zwick

Which FREE space sites have you signed up for and sampled their hosting service?

12:31 - Richard Seltzer

I've tried NBCi -- the space is unlimited, but the response time is chancy to slow, both for connecting by ftp and for connecting to Web pages. They may be going through a difficult transition having just swallowed Xoom. It will be interesting to test them again in a month.

12:32 - Richard Seltzer

I have space at Tripod and GeoCities, but haven't tested it yet for multimedia response. They both have relatively low limits now (I forget -- something in the range of 20 to 50 Mbytes), but will probably have to respond to NBCi's offer.

12:34 - Richard Seltzer

I haven't tested Angelfire yet. Last time I looked there, they had restrictions that you couldn't do business-related things, which killed my interest in what they were doing.

12:35 - Richard Seltzer

Have you tried video?

12:34 - Bob Zwick

I tend to lean towards smaller ISPs with good backbone connections. The bigger the host the more congestion there is on any of their sites. Just go to a few Microsoft sites to see.

12:36 - Richard Seltzer

My ISP, Acunet in Marlboro, has a very good backbone connection, and isn't congested. But the problem is that they cannot offer unlimited disk space. So sooner of later, I'll have to put some of my audio files somewhere else.

12:38 - Bob Zwick

I have one video online at my regular WWW host

12:40 - Richard Seltzer

Did you convert that video from videotape? Or did you take it with a Web cam?

Bob Zwick

Yes I went from camcorder to producer. Did not include sound.

12:39 - Richard Seltzer

It's interesting that we didn't get much of a turnout today. I suspect that business folks haven't woken up to the implications of this. It's going to open lots of opportunities -- for what they themselves could do, for what they could do to facilitate the creative efforts of the masses, and, in the immediate future, for the degradation of bandwidth for all as the lines get clogged with lots of multi-media content.

Creative uses of audio on the Web

12:42 - Richard Seltzer

Of course, one of the business implications is right up your alley. Your eBookIt software makes it easy for anyone to create an audio book. And unlimited disk space means that people can actually take advanage of that. A year ago, that would have been impossible. By the way, I think that your real market will be the masses, rather than established publishers.

12:44 - Richard Seltzer

You should talk to familytreemaker. it would be a natural add-on to their service to facilitate people creating and posting talking family histories.

12:46 - Richard Seltzer

You should also talk to speaker bureaus. I'd think it would help their marketing to have samples of their speakers' work in this format. (Far better than today's quality of video -- the audio can come through sharp and clear and having the text visible at the same time puts the emphasis on the content.)

12:49 - Richard Seltzer

Another creative use of audio that feels like a natural is talking photo albums. There are plenty of photo hosting sites today. But I don't believe any of them yet make it easy to record sound and match it with a slide show of photos. You put together a photo album and record your thoughts and reactions (the baby's sounds, the kids voices, etc.) to save for posterity.

12:52 - BobZ

I met the Minister of Education of India on Global Learn Day IV, and eBookIt is a natural for broadcasting literature and classes to the masses who can only afford a .50 am radio.

12:53 - Richard Seltzer

Excellent. That's certainly an unexpected twist. I wouldn't have expected someone like that would have participated in Global Learn Day. I hope something good comes of that.


12:56 - Richard Seltzer

Next week my guest will be Scott Cramer. You might want to check out his site It's a very slick way of creating puzzles out of any picture and solving them by dragging the pieces together. He's not sure what to do with it business-wise. I find it far more compelling and interesting than ecards. I can imagine uses for education, as well as marketing. I'd be very interested in your reactions.

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