December 19, 1996 -- Year-End Wrapup

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, December 19, 1996.

These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM US Eastern Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.

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For transcripts of other previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here.

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here.

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


Richard Seltzer ( - 11:55am -- The scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW. If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

Richard Seltzer ( - 11:57am -- I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment in Littleton, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business. I also have my own personal Web page -- which is content rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

In a chat session like this things can get pretty frantic. It's sometimes difficult to follow the threads of conversation. And there's no time to write down interesting URLs and facts. So last week, I took a copy of the raw transcript and edited it to make the threads clearer and posted it at my own little Web site so anyone could take a look. You can see it at I plan to do the same today. Barring technical difficulties, I hope to have a transcript up later today. I'll post it at the same site, naming this one /chat22.html

bill_h ( - 12:01pm -- Hello.

Ted Resnick (Excite) ( - 12:01pm -- Hi, this is Ted. Hope all is going well.

Harold ( - 12:03pm -- Hi Richard, I have missed several sessions but am glad to have this year end opprtunity to participate.

G. Benett ( - 12:09pm -- Hello all. Gordon Benett here, editor of web-based Intranet Design Magazine (

tom dadakis ( - 12:07pm -- Richard, Saw you at IWorld last week, great presentation

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:09pm -- Tom -- Thanks. Glad you found the presentation useful. (I was doing a talk/demo about AltaVista and how to get the most out of it for finding and also for being found).

tom dadakis ( - 12:10pm -- Yes you were talking about searching for resumes and presenting one's self on the web

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:17pm -- Tom -- RE: resumes. Yes, I noted the example of my wife being contacted by a headhunter who used search engines and found her resume at my little Web site. (And from the feedback I heard, it occurred to me that I ought to do a better job of practicing what I preach. So I edited her and my resume pages to start with the word "resume" and words that clearly state our main job-related strengths, and then re-added those URLs at AltaVista.)

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:02pm -- Today, should be a good time for us to look back and look ahead. What worked and what didn't in 1996? What do we want to see and do business-wise on the Internet in 1997? What do we want to be doing differently a year from now? Of the technology that's just getting going -- low-cost Web-access devices, broadcast/subscription services over the Internet (like Castanets/Marimba), Java and ActiveX-based applications, etc. -- what are we routing for and why?

Will Internet Popularity Decline?

Wendy ( - 11:58am -- Richard: Do you think the internet's popularity will decline in the future after its somewhat recent surge of press, websites, etc.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:01pm -- Wendy -- Interesting question. I believe that it is set to really take off. The reason I believe that has nothing to do with low-cost devices (like WebTV), and nothing really to do with the big push that major media companies are putting on their Internet presence. Rather, I believe that the heart of the Internet and it's main attraction is connecting people to people. I see that happening more and more with chat and forum, and with live person-to person video, and better capabilities for holding real on-line meetings.

Spam and Privacy

bill_h ( - 12:05pm -- Frankly, I'm aprehensive about the Internet and how business is using it. I can see it's uses for software and info distribution on-demand, but the spam and the privacy issues bother me.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:08pm -- bill_h -- Yes, the spam and privacy issues are likely to heat up as more people who have no clue about the environment come on-board and try to make a buck. But that's also a business opportunity. There's a market for software that filters mail to sniff out and eliminate spam, and software (like Internet Fast Forward) that zaps cookies and other attempts to automatically gather demographic and personal info about users.

Chat for Business, On-Line Meetings

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:04pm -- Welcome Harold, what's uppermost on your mind as the year draws to a close?

Harold ( - 12:06pm -- I am most interested in using chat as part of my online business activities. I believe that professional uses like this, along with consulting, marketing, training, etc. are really valuable uses of such a capability.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:11pm -- Harold -- Yes, it's time for chat-like applications to start taking off. Part of the issue is people getting used to participating in sessions like this (building habit). Another part is adding some capabilities (make it easier to create useful transcripts, for instance), and add voice, and add white board. The capabilities are all their technically, but the human experience, the participation and management skills and the habits of use need to be developed and cultivated. When the number of face-to-face meetings I have to go to starts to decline, I'll things are really getting going.

tom dadakis ( - 12:12pm -- Has anyone used MS Netmeeting?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:19pm -- Tom -- I haven't used MS Meeting, but I'd very much like to hear more about it from someone who has.

tom dadakis ( - 12:32pm -- re:Netmeeting- I tried to use it but this chat function is easier.

Harold ( - 12:14pm -- Well, I believe that the use of chat on a private basis, along with integrated whiteboards, web browsing, and easily copying files and images from other applications will be a big thing in the coming year. I am working on such a project now.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:18pm -- Harold -- Can you tell us more about that project? The number of people involved? Whether it's just inside one company or linking several together? What software your are using? How far along it is?

Harold ( - 12:25pm -- Richard, the project is in its final stages and I hope to be announcing it right after the first of the year. I will give you the details in your first session of 1977 (or off line). The concept is to provide companies with private chat sites as an add on to their present Web site. It is a great tool for target marketing, consulting, etc. as I said earlier.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:29pm -- Harold -- Sound very interesting. Is it just chat? Or Forum (threaded, notes-like) as well?

Harold ( - 12:31pm -- Richard, it is based on iChat Rooms.

bill_h ( - 12:34pm -- Harold - Can you compare your product to what we're using right now?

Harold ( - 12:36pm -- bill_h, Are you familiar with iChat Rooms?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:38pm -- Harold -- Please tell us more about iChat Rooms.

bill_h ( - 12:39pm -- Harold - I have used IRC chat a few times. It was a bit too klunky for me to stick with, but I could see how communities could develop around it. This chat forum (don't know what it's called) is the best thing I've worked with.

Harold ( - 12:43pm -- iChat Rooms provides a split screen where chat is in the lower half, and the top can be either any Web site you select. The top half can also be used to paste in presentations, including multimedia,etc. You can find it at The feature are great, but especially useful for private chat sessions.

Harold ( - 12:40pm -- Comment to G. Benett: A lot of new applications, or hybrid applications will require remote administration of servers and UNIX seems to me to be one of the more stable ways to do this. Just a note on something that is important to me.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:45pm -- Harold -- Yes, if you are investing in a chat application that runs on UNIX servers I'd think that the impending Microsoft push would be very important. There's a Conferencing piece to Normandy (really just chat). I haven't used it. The problem is that even if it isn't the best implementation the momentum of Microsoft and the tie-ins from their chat to their other Internet server elements could make it very hard for competitors. I'd feel much better if Microsoft's approach were open and non-proprietary, so other apps could easily plug in. I don't believe that's the case at this point. But this is still an early stage, and Microsoft is very fast on its feet for a behemoth. We're just at the beginnings. I'd keep a very close watch on what they are doing here, and provide them with lots of very loud feedback when the implications of current directions look threatening.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:47pm -- Harold -- I like the split-screen feature you describe. Thanks for the URL pointer. Does the chat itself require you to keep clicking (like this one) to see new messages, or do new postings immediately appear (I've seen a Java-based chat, I believe from EarthWeb, that does that well.)

Harold ( - 12:49pm -- Richard, the standard version keeps updating itself. But iwould rather have the setup that is used here. I like to decide when I want to update.

Possible Fragmentation of the Web

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:03pm -- Welcome, Ted. What are your hopes and fears for the coming year (in terms of Internet business)?

Ted Resnick ( - 12:05pm -- Hope that as the internet grows next year, that it will stay in one piece...

Ted Resnick ( - 12:09pm -- By this I mean that it looks like the net is getting more fragmented into surfers vs. posters. (Keyboards on WebTV are extra!) Browsers may not all read the same information, so what you get may be determined by what medium you surf the net in. And personalization is designed to filter out many of the things that might have brought us together as one large internactive community. None of these things are great or terrible by themselves, but I am wondering where the net culture will be in a year from now.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:15pm -- Ted -- I guess I'm more of an optimist. I see the big trend as not toward the limited- capability boxes, but rather toward self-publishing on the Internet -- everybody wanting/needed to have their own Web pages, and soon all wanting to be able to do videophone and videobroadcasting on the Internet. I'm looking forward to the day when nearly everyone is a "poster" rather than a "surfer" -- or at least values the ability to post at any time.

bill_h ( - 12:17pm -- I second Ted's thoughts. You may have your grips about Network TV, but when you watch it there is a high probabilty that you can communicate this common experience with other people you come in contact with. I cannot imagine a few Web sites that most everyone would visit on a regular basis, so it seems unlikely to create a national community.

Ted Resnick ( - 12:21pm -- I think that there will be a lowest common denominator that will enable any user to publish information on their own. That element has always been part of the net. I just hope that people are as interested in finding those sites as they are the major sponsored ones.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:25pm -- Ted -- I agree -- the little and personal sites only survive and thrive if people do open-ended Internet-wide searches, rather than just going to the well-publicized ones. And, of course, they depend on the existence, of no-cost and easy-to-use search engines like AltaVista and Excite, which treat all Web pages and all Web sites equally, based only on content.

Ted Resnick ( - 12:28pm -- Bill - There is also the international community ;-) I am not saying that there should be a centralized information center where everyone goes first (though the Excite page is great place to start:-), but only that there there are so many different uses of the net, that 1997 will feature stories about the fragmentalization of the net into various audiences. For business it will be important to find your audience, and the more simplistic media may not be pointing to the right one for your area of interest. (

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:34pm -- Ted -- Yes, the Internet is international, and search engines like AltaVista and Excite take that into account. AltaVista now has mirror sites in Europe and Australia, both for improved trans-oceanic response time and also to allow for the development of local language value-added enhancements.

Intranets in 1997 -- Microsoft's Normandy?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:12pm -- Welcome, Gordon. What do you think are the main ingredients needed for Intranets to really take off and fulfill their potential in the comingyear?

G. Benett ( - 12:18pm -- Richard - I think the chief enablers of intranet technology at this stage are tools and standards. On the tool front, IT shops will wait for robust application builders like those available for traditional client/server before committing to Java or ActiveX. As for standards, we've seen divergence and, in a few cases, reconvergence. (I'm thinking of JavaScript.) Business won't bank on warring factions unless they play nice or one emerges victorious.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:20pm -- Gordon -- Do you see a major role for Microsoft's Normany (AKA Microsoft Commercial Internet System) in Intranets in the near future?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:28pm -- Gordon -- With regard to warring factions, what about Microsoft and Netscape in the Intranet arena? Do you see any way for them to co-exist? (It looks like Normandy only works on NT and doesn't work at all with existing UNIX-based systems and applications. Do you see that as a major barrier? Or do you expect Microsoft's back-office strength to carry them through?

G. Benett ( - 12:26pm -- Richard - I'm not too familiar with Normandy. At first blush it sounds like Microsoft's counter to Netscape SuiteSpot, a sort of Web-centric Back Office. It's an essential move for MS, but I'm not sure I'd call it "major." Whaddyou think?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:32pm -- Harold -- I believe that Normandy is MAJOR MAJOR when it comes to Intranets. They have a Web site that describes the capabilities. (I can't recall the URL off-hand but will include it in the transcript.) It looks like the skeleton to hold together numerous Internet-applications. It's mostly plain vanilla. The user and/or VAR has to provide the creativity (the meat for the bones). But this is rolling forward rapidly -- and it's a very heavy bulldozer. It's well worth paying attention to.

G. Benett ( - 12:38pm -- The Normandy URL is

Microsoft and PointCast

G. Benett ( - 12:36pm -- Re: MS v NS, I continue to be impressed by Microsoft's business acumen. Take the alliance with PointCast they announced at IWorld last week. While everyone else was pushing servers, tools, and apps, MS comes in at a right angle and jumps into Internet broadcasting. I think they have phenomenal staying/spreading power. Netscape is technically savvy and has solid allies as well. But as much as I love Unix, those guys don't know how to march together. You've seen the rumblings about Java becoming Unix all over again? That's not a compliment. And it's not one of Microsoft's worries.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:40pm -- Gordon -- I missed the MS/Pointcast announcement. Details? (Personally, I really don't like PointCast -- it's intrusive and selective.) I'm surprised that if they want to get into the push rather than pull model of delivering information that they allied themselves with a single channel (PointCast) rather than a multi-channel model like Castanet's Marimba. But basically, I hate "push" in all it's forms.

bill_h ( - 12:45pm -- Richard - I agree with your opinion on Pointcast. I ran it for a few months, it was nice, but it keept getting slower and slower to update. It happened that my machine broke and I do not have an interest in restoring Pointcast again.

G. Benett ( - 12:46pm -- There's a discussion of the Microsoft/PointCast announcement with links to more in the current issue of Intranet Design. The direct URL is, I believe,

G. Benett ( - 12:52pm -- I personally emoved PCN from my machine ten minutes after downloading it. But I have a day in addition to running a webzine -- and 80% of the desktops around me are blazing PointCast ads. My observation is that many in the user community will go for the push model. And as part of the alliance, PCN will bundle MSIE 4.0 in its upgrade. Regardless of taste, I think it's a savvy strategy.

Where Should an Electronic Commerce Company Advertise?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:22pm -- By the way, now that we seem to have a quorum, someone sent in a question that I'd like to pose for you. If you worked for an electronic commerce solutions company, and you had a very limited budget for doing Web-based advertising, what are the main sites you would target?

G. Benett ( - 12:30pm -- Richard, re: cost-effective web advertising, my #1 recommendation is ... Intranet Design Magazine! ;^) After that I'd say the online Ziff-Davis pubs, Network World, and

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:36pm -- Gordon -- Any suggestions (advertising-wise) for sites that are specific to electronic commerce (particularly catalog sales type businesses)? (Like your site is specific to Intranet.)

Ted Resnick ( - 12:33pm -- Richard - your question about the electronic commerce solutions - I think that on a limited budget, they have to do more grassroots marketing on the web. Certainly they can buy keywords from Excite or similiar Search tools, but I would also look at the free ad networks like the Internet Link Exchange. A huge recommendation would be for sponsoring email lists like the Internet Sales Digest, and posting there too!

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:37pm -- Ted -- Yes, I find the Internet Sales Digest very useful and informative. I get it by email. Is there a Web site associated with it that accepts advertising?

Ted Resnick ( - 12:42pm -- The URL for the I-Sales site is The value in the sponsorship is that the sponsors URL is given out in the beginning and end of the newsletter. With so many many of the popular email programs supporting hyperlinked URL's in their messages, the user can easily click on the ad within email. Actually, there are several excellent sponsored lists that I subscribe to, but I think for the commerce fellow, the Isales one would be best.

G. Benett ( - 12:43pm -- Richard - re: EC-specific venues, I don't know any but I bet Premenos and Harbinger (Internet EDI vendors). do. I'd ask them. Also look at where Oracle is advertising Project Apollo, its Java-based EC initiative joint with CyberCash, First Data and VeriFone. Follow these stakeholders for clues.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:48pm -- Gordon -- Thanks very much for the EC clues. I'll pass that along.

Backlash or Boom in 1997?

Ted Resnick ( - 12:50pm -- So, what was the best in 96? I think that 96 was the year that the Fortune 500 got on to the Net, the year that it became acceptable to talk out loud about commercializing the internet. Next year we will see if 96's seeding will pay off. There are people that are making money and doing very nicely, but do you think that there will be a backlash or a boom in 97?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:53pm -- Ted -- I expect selective backlashes (against cookies, against banner ads, against frames, against push ways of delivering info, against first-generation limited devices for accessing the Web), but an overall boom -- with personal pages and Internet phone and video phone kinds of things -- and also on-line meetings -- really taking off.

G. Benett ( - 12:55pm -- Richard - I too am bullish on Internet commerce. The multimedia part I suspect will lag, due in part to physics, in part to telco resistance until they figure out how to take their cut. But '97 will, IMHO, continue and extend the web revolution.

Ted Resnick ( - 12:58pm -- Richard, I tend to agree, so do you think that the net as a mass market ad-driven system will succeed? I am seeing a ton of commentary that the web and tv are converging and I think that 97 will feature lots of examples of how each medium will affect the other. It started with URL's given in commercials and on the news - Bold prediction - there will be a goto:URL on the TV remote controls -- OK maybe that is 1998 :-)

tom dadakis ( - 12:58pm -- Gordon & Richard, Channelling & server-push will be the big item for the first half of 1997. As we continue to develop these communities of interest, channelling will be a further refinement for specific sites. I know we are exploring channelling for intranets on a test basis.

Richard Seltzer ( - 1:01pm -- Ted -- Yes, it's going to be interesting to see the interaction between Internet and TV and how they affect one another. I'm hoping that the everyone-to-everyone, democratic model of the Internet continues and grows. To me it's that -- not the technology -- that matters in the long run.

Ted Resnick ( - Thu, Dec 19, 1:03pm EST: -- Richard, let's work to make it so. Thanks for hosting these sessions. The more realtime and near-real time based discussions, the more the community can take a look at itself!


Richard Seltzer ( - 12:50pm -- All -- Is there any interest in discussing Microsoft/Normany directions and implications in a future session? Someone I used to work with at Digital is now involved in that project at Microsoft, and if invited, I'm sure he'd join us.

Harold ( - 12:52pm -- I would appreciate a session on Microsoft/Normany.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:54pm -- All -- time is moving on very quickly. Please be sure that you all post your email addresses and urls here before leaving.

All -- Keep in mind that we will be skipping next Thursday (the day after Christmas) and will be back Thursday Jan. 2.

Harold ( - 12:56pm -- my email address is my URL is

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:56pm -- All -- As usual I'll post the transcript of this session -- hopefully, later today. Check for the full list of transcripts. (Sorry for the delay in posting last week's. It was hectic getting back from Internet World. It is up now though at

All -- my number one New Year's resolution is to put together a tentative list of upcoming topics, covering a couple months out. So please email me your suggestions (and your feelings as to whether Microsoft/Normandy would be a good one).

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:58pm -- Also, please email me your followup comments, questions, etc. for inclusion with the transcripts.

bill_h ( - 12:58pm -- Richard - Bye for now. Thanks for another interesting chat.

Ted Resnick ( - 1:00pm -- ted resnick || ||

G. Benett ( - 12:58pm -- Intranet Design Magazine is published biweekly at My e-mail address is Richard, thanks for a year of stimulating chat and terrific transcripting!

tom dadakis ( - - Have a good Holiday everyone. Is there a chat scheduled for the next two thursdays?

Richard Seltzer ( - - Tom -- No chat next week (Dec. 26). We'll be back the following week(Jan. 2)

Ted Resnick ( - : -- Have a good one, See you in 2 weeks

Harold ( - 12:59pm -- Richard, I think these sessions deseve the "best of the net" award! Thanks.

G. Benett ( - 12:59pm -- All - Happy Holidays.

Richard Seltzer ( - 1:00pm -- We've been doing these sessions now for about five months. I've really enjoyed it, and believe it's evolved in a very useful direction. I really appreciate all your help and participation and hope you will be back with us regularly in the coming year. Please help spread the word -- the more participants the better.

Richard Seltzer ( - 1:01pm -- Thanks again. Happy holidays to all.

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