Archive for July, 2006

31Jul

How does age matter? Ethically and legally speaking age matters for many websites. Economically speaking there is also the issue of financial responsibility. For the websites offering mature services and adult products the age verification process is a must, even though it is frought with shortcomings. The news is full of chatroom related problems and crimes.

Most states are pushing for improved age and/or identity checks – a probable further loss of the right to privacy. But you shouldn’t be able to transact in these environments without responsibilty – and I guess that means honesty as to your identity. Big concerns over sexual predators are just the beginning for the push to improve age and identity checks.

Improved identification with minimal infringements of rights, as well as keeping the web a user-friendly environment for communication and commerce is the big trick here. Nobody has bottom-lined all the implications so far. Any improvements will take cooperation and patience.

Messaging and sharing of photos is huge for kids and teens. I’ve seen some of the photos and text from those interactions. They range from typical or fun to raw or grotesque. Parents, school administrators and police have become increasingly worried that teens are finding more trouble than they can deal with. There have been plenty of arrests and lawsuits stemming from the new “e-street”.

A lot of websites allow visitors to self-report their age. There are tools to verify age, used most effectively porn sites or sales of alcholic beverages. A credit card acts as both identity and age verification for many sites, but the card could be borrowed or used secretly. IDology Inc. and Sentinel Tech Holding Corp.’s Sentry use various methods to check addresses, birth dates and other information that users have provided versus the record of public databases, like voting and property records.

Minors do not have as many unique identifiers as adults do – they are not registered voters, they don’t have mortgages or car loans, many don’t have driver’s licenses. Schools have legitimate concerns about releasing student records to various corps and agencies, and some states restrict disclosure of driver’s license information on minors.

Changing to a more reliable system entails cost too. And any technical solution that is rigid enough to work would penalize the legitimate users who cannot be verified. There is also a concern that partial enforcement of indentity measures would only drive kids and troublemakers to a non-compliant website – kind of like slipping away from teacher’s view at a dance. Half solutions in fact would give parents and children a false sense of security, and possibly increase risk.

Freedom vs Responsibility – the biggest question in Eden.

Against the Wind,

Arthur Browning

26Jul

Is your website isolated, a visual blackhole, lost at the Website circus?

There’s a few ideas floating around that may be worth repeating. Maybe you should try hosting a weblog on your website. You can post a few introductory blogs to introduce yourself and give the jist of your website – especially why it is of interest to your readers(market).

Later, you can post some articles of real interest to your visitors (who have friends – hopefully). Whatever you do on your website there has to be several angles that make good reading. Summon your skills as a writer and put those angles into print. For example, if you sell perfume you could write on home perfume displays or selecting gift sets or what not to do with perfume – i.e. never mix “Indecent Proposal” with “Now or Never”, etc. You can rate perfumes, run a vote or a contest on perfumes, tell customer stories, i.e. “How My Perfume Kept Him Out of Heaven”.

If you make the article interesting enough it might be carried by another blog or Ezine – why not? Just do some e-networking. If you submit an article just mention your very most excellent website and make sure there is a link back to it in the article (Get it?).

Of course you should get into a few directories – especially the free ones. And try to exchange links with the good people of the neighborhood who have related websites (You know girls – hair products, nails, lingerie, maybe a cultural website – – or not?).

There are some websites that can submit your site to some of the major search engines. Just do a search and choose from the free ones if they look alright. Here are some websites with free search engine submission pages: Jayde, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN, Netscape Search, Open Directory, Yahoo!, AltaVista, Fast/All The Web, Gimpsy, Google, JoeAnt.

By the way “popularity” is a good thing. To get popular you can find out how many Web pages have linked to your site. Then you should get more links to your site. To do a Popularity Check paste your URL into any of these search engine search pages: AllTheWeb, AltaVista, Google, MSN, Yahoo!.

So even if you sell embalming products – remember not everybody knows all of your good points – until you tell them.

Livin’ the Dream

Arthur Browning

21Jul

During the last several months, many people have downloaded the three-column webpage templates from various sources. These 3 column webpage templates are available at an array of websites. Most have been tested in the various browsers and usually perform correctly. However there have been a few exceptions. There has been some reportedly strange behavior when some of these webpage templates are viewed in the earlier versions of Internet Explorer. The right-hand column can mysteriously disappear or moves around erratically.

This IE problem has been reported before and it affects many three-column layouts. It is usually observed when screen fonts are resized or browser window dimensions are reduced. And Firefox is not necessarily immune. IE versions 6 and earlier are the cause of much of this behavior. This happens because of IE’s problematic implementation of the CSS box model. The box model describes the boundaries of HTML/CSS elements. By W3C specification, the width and height of a CSS element is based upon the raw dimensions of the element itself, and this is before the addition of margins, padding, and borders. IE, however, uses a different box model, which includes padding and borders in the calculated base width. When fonts are enlarged beyond the width of the container, early versions of Internet Explorer also improperly widen the container. The differences between these two approaches are responsible for many layout problems among browsers.

Here are some quick fixes for CSS beginners
* Check to make sure that images, form input elements, and web site URLs don’t exceed column widths
* Reduce the width of form input elements until columns cease to wrap
* Reduce image sizes until layouts behave themselves
* Shorten the alt text of web badges â€â€? long strings may force wrapping if the badge isn’t well displayed
* Increase the overall width of the container div by a few pixels or percentage points
* Make sure the cumulative width of all columns, plus their margins, borders, and padding does not exceed 100% of the width of their container div
* Try to reducing the width, margins, borders, or padding of one or more columns
* Reduce the font size slightly.
* Remember that borders add width � one pixel can cause unwanted wrapping

Test your alterations in as many browsers as possible, especially the older versions of IE.

Hasta La Vista, Baby
Arthur Browning

19Jul

What more can I say about SEO? I’ve been puzzled, as have many people, as to the changes and variances in website rankings as well as many of the search results I’ve gotten. But to distill what I have seen and read lately into as concise a format as possible I had to make a short outline. The outline resulted in the following three areas: keywords, articles, and links.

KEYWORDS: Search Engine Spiders are still looking for keywords, but!!! keywords that occur naturally in the text of a website. In the past spiders looked for any keyword, even if it was buried in meaningless content. Nowadays a bunch of keywords peppering a page of useless content will not boost your ranking, and may in fact lower it.

Valid placement of keywords involves placing them in content, page titles and descriptions, and embedding them in HTML code in the form of Meta tags and alt tags that accurately describe what’s on the page. Spiders want to see titles and descriptions that direct a user easily to the information they need. These are the SEO methods that work now with major search engines like Google.

For search engine optimization, Denver businesses are going back to the natural way of presenting information on the web, natural is the buzzword of the moment.

ARTICLES: How much does article submission help your SEO? Article submission has been a popular SEO topic for quite a while. It is often used as a method to generate quality backlinks for a site. Some SEO experts will argue that writing an article for submission is a waste of valuable assets. They argue that quality content is better used on your own site. Perhaps the truth is really in between.

Great content on your site attracts natural links, and it also produces better search engine rankings in and of itself. But article submission can also produce both traffic and backlinks. Many people do not have the time or money to write great content for their own site as well as good content to give to others who will in turn link back to their site. But any strategy needs to consider both of these present time realities.

One way to accomplish this is to write two versions of an article. Put the more comprehensive and most articulate writing on your own website, but a shorter version can be written with very little more time expended for submission to other websites. The shorter article can be a tutorial or only an outline of the original version. Or the submitted version can take only the philosophic or esthetic viewpoint from the larger article. In fact the original article could be broken down to two or three smaller parts, or presented as a brief series.

If it is a well written, important or entertaining article, you will get traffic and natural links. Then submit the shorter versions to good websites in exchange for backlinks.

You can use one of the many content generator tools to modify your summary article into several other “versions�. But remember that content generators will not produce high quality articles, but they can make alternate versions of what you have already written, and which you can proof and improve.

LINKS: The discussion about linking strategies continues. It seems the algorithms are focusing on links that are related in a meaningful way to related and meaningful content. They also seem to focus on avoiding links with little relevance or that have lesser reputations (porn, casino, etc). These algorithms seem to prefer links with high status or acknowledged content expertise in a given field of content. And further, they prefer links with links with links to these high status websites.

Keepin’ It Real,
Arthur Browning

18Jul
Comments Off

E-Commerce Security

Ecommerce is booming! I’ve been talking about webpage templates,
particularly ecommerce templates recently, including osCommerce,
PHP, Zen Cart templates and CRELoaded templates. Lots of ecommerce websites startup everyday. And sure, there are busts everyday, but there are thousands of successful ecommerce pages out there besides Amazon and Ebay.

Any system of money flow attracts criminal attention. Aside from theft of your identity, a hacker can steal the identities of your customers. So let’s talk about security for a minute. Here’s an idea that might help your security.

The best method of hack prevention involves making entries into your robots.txt file so that search engines cannot index login pages, user administration systems, and admin backend. This is one way to deny access to a system page:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /admin/
Disallow: /contact/
Disallow: /client_section/
Disallow: login.php
#etc

This keeps any search engine that pays attention to the robots.txt file from indexing the pages in the site, which will help keep hackers out.

A word about Hacking: SQL Injection is one of the most common hacks against dynamic websites. And it can hang even major websites. It’s the most basic hack in the hacker’s book of tricks. Example: What about your login form – most coders name their form fields the same as their database fields, this can reveal a lot about your underlying structure.

With some basic queries the hacker can then go directly into your admin system. How can you avoid this? Consider all incoming data from the user as a potential hack, clean up your data. You can write a signature and pattern matching algorithm, but it’s easy to get around that. The best way to protect yourself is to clean fields that you know should not contain SQL key words.

SELECT, OR, AND,INSERT, CREATE, DELETE, FROM, WHERE, LIKE, EXEC, SP_, XP_, SQL, ROWSET, OPEN, BEGIN, END, DECLARE

and clean out symbols as well

; — + ‘ ( ) = > < @

A simple call to the function takes out the bad stuff, and your left with clean code.

Also, SQL injection is not limited only to forms. Clean your GET, POST, and COOKIE variables and pass as little through the URL as possible.

Keepin’ On Keepin’ On,
Arthur Browning

17Jul

What about logos? Webpages, especially those pushing for an identity, such as a corporation or public service agency, need logos for a quick identification in the community. These quick identifications serve two major purposes. The first purpose is to remind you that the organization has many good traits upon which you can depend. The second is a reminder that the organization is available and present (or omnipresent).

How can a logo be designed and then displayed in such a way that it will accomplish these two things? An organization will need planning, effort and resources to accomplish these two things.

First of all, a logo is a symbol, ultimately the easiest and fastest image that you can read and comprehend (communicating a lot in a split-second). A logo, at it’s best, is recognized immediately (high brand recognition) and is fully understood (and/or subliminally perceived) by every viewer.

Making the logo instantly recognizable is accomplished by using visual impact with a distinctly unambiguous visual presentation. Logo recognition is accomplished by creation of an image that is powerfully different from its background, easy to visually spot (or impossible to ignore) and a pleasure to focus onto (maybe sublime, but interesting or slightly irritating in its character), clearly delineated in its shape, often monumental (maybe not in size or proportion, but in its presence), usually simple (but as different from other logos as possible).

When you consider some of the best logos, what comes to your mind? Coca-Cola, Isuzu, Adidas, Missouri Tigers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Volkswagen, Burger King, Boston Celtics, TGIFriday’s, Swiss Flag, Ferrari, Starbuck’s, Dell, Taco Bell, Louis Jadot are a few of my favorites, although I don’t even patronize some of these organizations. (If you have a favorite(s) please send them in.) The logos that come to your mind do so for a lot of reasons that you don’t even remember, maybe never knew. Why? Because of a matching that occurs in your mind between some of the logo attributes and some of your perceptual (and psychological) predispositions.

Can this kind of powerful logo be planned? It always is, but the design can have varied success for a lot of reasons. What groups of people can relate to it (demographics)? How long have people had to get accustomed to it? Etc. To really break it down would be an unbelievably complex task. That’s why logos have to be replaced or updated, or just tested over time. But, if you don’t have time or money to waste with a decade of advertising an iffy logo from which you can make your analysis, then the best thing to do is a series of perceptual (psychological) tests with different market segments (maybe not just the kids, but the parents too).

For the creation of a logo, as for any creation, the best and easiest way to proceed involves taking some powerful logos and changing some of their attributes. These logos must be changed in a way that your target groups show some real affinity for the experimental logos in statistical testing. In the old days a business owner just guessed what would work, or maybe asked friends and family for their opinions. Today a major organization can use scientific testing in a market to save a decade of necessary changes. No method is foolproof, no one can guarantee the kind of logo power you get with Atomic brand firecrackers (remember those? – okay maybe you’re a Black Cat guy or girl?).

The second part of logo building is loading the image with important meaning (This goes back way before Icthus). How do people know what your logo means? How does your logo remind them of what they want, desire, feel safe with, look macho with, be immortal with, be loved because of , get improved mating opportunities with – your organization? Whatever your organization wants to be known for must be read clearly and emphatically from your logo. So do you use a lightning bolt for women’s deodorant? No, save it for Special Ops! (okay, some women could relate). Would you use a rose as a coat of arms? Only if every body already knows the complex meanings of the rose – as did the House of York and the House of Lancaster long before the War of Roses (1455-1485).

Once you have that great logo you must systematically add meanings to it. Show your logo in prominent places within high-status trappings that your market groups already idolize (NASCAR, Paris, Rolling Stones, etc.). Remind people often that your organization saves lives (maybe physical lives- medical products, maybe psychological lives-therapeutic activities, maybe romantic lives- perfume or lingerie). Get testimonials as to how dependable and powerful your organization’s services or products really are. But at every turn, every letterhead and email, website and billboard, awards ceremony and campaign kickoff, sporting event, or church picnic your logo is held up, worn, pressed into the hands of, shown being competed for – pervasively. This is the reason logos can bring high prices by themselves at auctions (coke sign, cavalry trumpet, postage stamp, even a diamond – which is worth almost nothing intrinsically).

Over time, with analysis your logo becomes so powerful you don’t have to talk about your organization – you only have to flash the sign.

Which brings me to the best part. FREE Logo Templates. Who can say no? If you like to experiment, this costs you nothing and may make “Your Lucky Day�. TutorialDash.com has 18 Logo Templates offered free of charge. And they have some good tutorials there as well.

Hangin’ In
Arthur Browning

14Jul

Good News! Free CSS Templates! What is a CSS Template good for, you may ask? Well then , here I go.

CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheets, a relatively new feature, added to HTML, that gives developers and users more control as to how webpages can be displayed. With CSS the designer and user can create style sheets that define how different elements, like headers and links, will appear. These Style Sheets can then be applied to any Web page.

CSS provides a standard for specifying the appearance of text and other elements. CSS was developed for use with HTML Webpages but it can also be used in other situations, notably in applications built using XPFE. CSS is typically used to provide a “library” of styles that can be used over and over for many related documents, like a website.

CSS enables designers/users to separate the styles and layout of the web page from data or information. Styles such as fonts, font sizes and margins can be specified in one place so that Webpages are directed from this one master list, with the styles cascading throughout the page or the entire site. With CSS users can define how certain HTML, DHTML and XML structural elements, such as paragraphs and headings, should be displayed using style rules instead of additional markup.

Cascading Style Sheets are a breakthrough in Web design because they enable developers to control the style and layout of multiple Webpages all at one time. With CSS, when you want to make a change, you simply change the style, and that element is updated automatically wherever it appears within the site. Since it’s likely that different browsers will implement CSS a bit differently, the designer must test the page with different browsers, although CSS has been implemented already for IE and Netscape browsers. CSS is W3C standard language and now CSS2 (Version 2.0) adds support for XML, oral presentations for the visually impaired, downloadable fonts and other enhancements.

Well, is CSS available in templates? Yes. And, CSS Templates are advertised free of charge, for any of you experimenters out there. Look at Free CSS Templates. This friendly website is owned by David Herreman and displays several CSS Templates. If you try one out, let us know how it feels.

Hookin’ You Up,
Arthur Browning

13Jul

Web Templates Blog is happy to present another in a series of interviews: today we talk with the notable Webpage Designer, Stuart Robertson of DesignMeme. Stuart has not only put together a great portfolio, he does consultancy, and has written some very readable and informative articles, some of which appear in A List Apart. One look at Stuart’s portfolio and I had to ask some questions.

I had to ask my favorite opening question – How did you get into webpage design? “I was working for the Government of Canada in an in-house video production studio during the mid-90s, and they needed someone to help put their Intranet together. I was working on a computer (an AVID nonlinear editor) and was under 30, so I guess I seemed like a good candidate to be given the “Learn to Write HTML” book and given the assignment. It wasn’t too long after that when I discovered Jeffrey Zeldman‘s site, which I found very helpful and inspiring. I still do.â€?

Early work – “I did a lot of very plain looking HTML pages for work, but the first “fun” sites I did were for a multimedia class I was taking. One had a spooky skeleton on it, and the other was a 3D rendering of a pulp-noir detective’s office. They both used a lot of images, and didn’t have very intuitive navigation — but were definitely fun.â€?

I asked Stuart about his comic strip and fantasy pages. “I know a lot of comic artists and filmmakers, so quite a few of my sites have had a comic/fantasy element in them, but the majority of the work I’ve done is actually for government and education sites. I’m working on sites for the University of Guelph and the Museum of Nature in Ottawa right now. I like to do a variety of different types of projects, so you’ll see more of a comic/fun quality on my personal site compared to the work I might do for the University, or a corporate client. Although I’d be more than happy to work with one of the big comic companies, or do something for next summer’s big hollywood blockbuster.â€?

Stuart told me a little about where he gets the killer art. “Sometimes an artist will give me a mockup of a page they’d like to see produced, and I’ll turn it into a website. With Nate Piekos’ Dead Ends site — he gave me a visually complex layout, and because I didn’t have the time to chop it all up into a hundred little images, I thought of floating invisible link boxes over the background. That’s where the CSS Night of the Image Maps article came from. . . Other times I’ll create the artwork myself, or add to any existing artwork supplied by the client. I use Adobe Illustrator quite extensively, and enjoy drawing and painting — although I haven’t been spending nearly as much time with traditional media as I’d like to.â€?

What is the next major development in webpage design? “I think the current big things are Feeds, Social Networking, and AJAX — and these will continue to have an impact on the way pages are designed for the next few years. . . I see a lot of potential in the CSS2 and CSS3 selectors and CSS generated content, and have been doing a lot with that lately. Both of the Firefox extensions I wrote this year are based on CSS generated content to add text and images to the page. . . When Digital Ink devices are introduced, I think that will have a major impact on webpage design and aesthetics. Having a screen that is sharper than current 72/96 dpi will mean a lot more detailed images and textures, and people being more comfortable with reading longer passages of text.â€?

I asked Stuart if he had ever worked with website templates? “I’ve used a few templates when setting up blogs and content management systems.â€? Stuart went on to say his website template providers have been, “Just open source template providers, and the ones that come with things like Blogger. I think the K2 template for WordPress is particularly nice, and I really like that we’re seeing regular people setting up blogs and being able to use nice designs for their sites.â€?

I wanted to know about Stuart’s experiences with website templates. “I think giving people a choice of nice looking and well coded templates when they’re getting started is a good idea. Once they’ve been using their site for a while they can make more informed decisions about what they would like to see in a custom website design, and hire a professional web designer to create it.â€?

About Flash technology? “Flash is great. My brother Kevin is a very talented Flash animator and developer and I’m always amazed at the things he’s able to do with it. I’ve seen him produce comics, movies, and even recreate old school video games with Flash. He’s currently using Flash to digitally ink his daily political comic — so it’s a very versatile tool.â€?

What about the advantages and disadvantages of using Flash? “I think HOW you use Flash should really depend on the nature of the project you’re working on. If you’re trying to create a site for a government agency with important information you need to make available to the widest possible audience, then Flash might be best used in a more limited way. It shouldn’t be used to display the main content or navigation. On the other hand, if you’re doing a website for a new movie or game, then you might want to use Flash more liberally to create a very interactive experience. . . I don’t think Flash will be as accessible as using regular HTML + CSS anytime in the near future. It doesn’t get indexed by search engines as well, and you can’t use the popular online translation tools to render the content in another language. But it’s excellent for displaying complex changing data, creating games, or watching videos. I don’t see it as an alternative to HTML+CSS, rather something to add to them.â€?

Stuart talked about his sources of inspiration? “Even though the coding on the site isn’t always that impressive, I really like illustrator’s websites for all the artwork they include. For example, Dave Hartman is amazingly talented, and seeing all the creative artwork and movies he produces makes me want to get even more things done myself. I find inspiration from looking at old movies, posters, books and ephemera. I also like getting outdoors and going for walks in the woods. . . Right now though, I think the biggest source of inspiration is spending time with my family. I have a 19 month old son, and watching him discover the world is amazing.â€?

I got Stuart to mention some favorite webpages of other designers. “I’m always very flattered to have my work included on sites like CSS Bloom or CSS Beauty because there are so many outstanding examples there. I also really like the CSS Zen Garden. Outstanding work all around. Individual sites I’m impressed with include Vincent Marcone’s, of My Pet Skeleton, who lives here in Guelph as well, and I’ve always enjoyed his artwork and Flash animations. Michael Lalonde of Orneryboy fame combines a fun comic, and great website design.â€?

I asked Stuart about the toughest project he had encountered. “I was working on a project where I was spending a lot of time explaining why things like accessibility and web standards mattered, and trying to understand why the other members of the team wanted to pick expensive proprietary solutions over commonly used open-source ones. The blog and podcast at Manager Tools has some great advice for managing meetings and dealing with some of these issues.�

What are your interests and dislikes in webpage design? “I enjoy seeing websites that combine attractive designs with elegantly simple coding. I also enjoy sites with compelling content that I can learn from. I like seeing a wider range of people producing their own blogs, podcasts and videos and putting them online. I teach 3rd year web design at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, and I really enjoy seeing my students publishing their own material. Even if the designs and coding are very basic, I think it’s great that more people are getting off the couch and publishing on the web. . . Cheers!”

Web Templates Blog thanks Stuart Robertson for information, guidance really, in his interview, and the personal style of his portfolio.

Arthur Browning

12Jul

Are They? – – I have not used any of the ecommerce group of templates: osCommerce, PHP, Zen Cart, CRE Loaded, etc. I get plenty of notices and blurbs about them but haven’t heard much from the buyers/users of these kinds of webpage templates.

So, it’s product evaluation time. Anyone who has bought one of these ecommerce types of templates should send me a comment. I’ve read a bit on them but I have no bottom line on any particular type or seller.

Whether a particular ecommerce template enhances online shopping and online buying is my big question here. Looks aren’t so hard to see, nor is pricing of the the templates on any of the numerous websites beginning to offer more and more of these ecommerce themes. So it’s effectiveness, ease of use, and the ecommerce-friendly built-in mechanisms that I am curious about. Designers have been working in this area for awhile now, are the improvements a breakthrough or just a little extra icing on the cake.

I have seen offerings lately by Red Fox Templates, Big Webmaster, Template Monster, Perfectory and some resources with Zen Cart themes and CRE Loaded templates. Beautiful skins, nice prices – do they make a difference for ecommerce? If you’ve patronized these or any ecommerce template seller, I’d like to know.

On a more personal note – I like any website that shows multiple views of the merchandise, a spec sheet, guarantees, testimonials or customer ratings, easily answers questions about the merchandise, quotes good prices on stock retailed products, offers wholesale or large ticket discounts, has a streamlined and cost effective shipping service(s), doesn’t stone me with spam after the purchase, doesn’t make me answer customer satisfaction questionnaires over 6 questions long (hopefully multiple choice options), or give my info to the sadistic thrill-sellers from the fourth dimension. So, ecommerce sellers be kind.

Arthur Browning

11Jul

What template user cares about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Only the template users who want their website to be found by websearchers I guess. Which I would guesstimate to be about 95%. Do Template buyers/users know anything about SEO, I will guesstimate those people at 70%. How many bought templates that are already SEO-friendly, I don’t even have a ballpark guesstimate. How many know how to customize their template to an SEO-friendly state, no guess. So why talk about SEO again? I feel that if I talk about SEO then maybe somebody will design SEO-friendly templates.

Last week I had the worries about SEO algorithms – how high any search engine ranks any particular website. And I don’t feel reassured by Google’s suggestions yet. Google claims it is improving it’s ability to spot illegitimate attempts at improving SEO. In most service organizations there comes a day when the quality of the services provided is legitimate, rather than commercial or just ineffectual. Because even though these services are pushing commercially for a monopoly, or at least dominating market share here in the Wild, Wild West there will be competition – somehow, someway. You may be the fastest gun in Dodge, but for how long? Even Bell Telephone had its problems: anti-monopoly legislation, regulation, competition, cell phone technology, cable internet, etc. That means that ultimately, if Google wants a legitimate product, it has to tell us what’s in it. If Google wants legitimate customers it has to tell everybody its definition of legitimate.

For the sake of argument let’s suppose Google gets good enough at what it does that it can say what it does outright, becoming a service organization that is transparent in it’s mission and practices. It would always have to cope with both the young guns competition – search engines that just feel lucky, and with the webpages that go illegitimate – think they got nothing to lose. So ultimately Google, like Yahoo and MSN, needs to progress, but remain transparent. Maybe the big three are moving in that direction. It sounds like it will be near constant change for everybody – Whew! Gimme a rest!

One more oar in the water – what about niche directories? You know it isn’t the Yellow Pages, it’s the Insider Directory of a niche. Just like a webring, but a step up to specialty mini-engine. Yes, your right, nothing is more colloquial and special-interested than a local newspaper or a coffee clatch. Okay, I give up, no easy answers. I guess I’m lazy.

No rest for the wicked.

Arthur Browning

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