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There's no doubt that the internet has grown to amazing proportions. From useful to useless, the net has become the biggest thing since television. Indeed, people on both sides of the last election were already saying that the net would become one of the most influential ways to spread propaganda information on campaign platforms.

However, as the Internet has grown, it's become a veritable electronic billboard. You can't surf^H^H^H^H use the internet, much less the web, without noticing this. Here, I'll cite a few examples of the how the WWW has become the MMM -- Mass Media Market.

.com bloat

A phrase coined by Verbosity's sysadmin, .com bloat is the ongoing saga of InterNIC's goldmine. Once free to register a domain, NIC began to charge a fee (to maintain a database, mind you). One might think this would limit the rush to register domains. However, it turned in to anything but that. (Corey's #1 Rule of Economics: Give a price to anything free, and you suddenly have a product.) As soon as this happened, thousands of requests for domain names flew in -- yet it obviously didn't bother Sprint Telecommunications, one of the NIC purveyors. Add that to InterNIC's poor regulation of requested domains, and you suddenly have companies using .org domains, as well as utterly ridiculous eyesores, such as nickatnitestvland.com and computerdiscountoutlet.com. Seems people even like these: (I did indeed find the following.)

Contact me at Tony@virtualdreamscapes.com yes, long domain names are cool!!!!

What's more, this plethora of domain names has people assuming that a www. prefix is required for a website. In other words, consider yourself smarter than about 80% of the people out there if you've found Verbosity.

URL hell

zima cap A few years ago, makers of the beverage Zima designed a website and began putting the URL on the side of the bottle. "zima.com"

At the time, it was novel. How quaint.

Now, however, you can't watch primetime TV without seeing them everywhere. Play this game yourself: Watch the commercials, and look for the URL. More often that not, you'll find the URL sneak its way onto the screen in three out of every five commercials. I dunno about you, but I'm tired of seeing www.paydaybar.com flash across the screen in the middle of Seinfeld.

Payday Bar, eh? Not hungry, are you....


Back when I was a mere slip of a youth, and Netscape v1.1 was first used here at school, in peering around the system files, I found a line similar to this:

Cookie File=c:\temp\cookies.txt

"Heh," I thought, "Those programmers are some funny guys!" Little did I know that "cookies" would become the online marketing ploys of way too many companies.

If you're not aware about what a cookie is, it's a little piece of computer code that, "with your permission", keeps a reminder that you've visited a site, and then transmits data back about what you do, and keeps track of the next time you visit. Free clientel data. Yeah. I'll tell you what. Enable your cookie warning in your browser, and see just how easy it isn't to get anywhere. Altavista uses cookies. So does (ironically) Suck. Yes, you too can see just who has been peering at you from behind a firewall. Check out your cookies.txt file....exciting!

Almost makes you want to wear a facemask when you net, no?

satan-spawned spam

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all, by this time, know what spam is. That annoying "buymebuymebuyme" email you recieve, right? Yeah. However, with the massive influx of commerce onto the net, the incidence of this has only increased to a staggering amount. Recreational emailers don't see the brunt of this torture, however (except those who willingly submit themselves to Juno). Those who read newsgroups have to suffer through more of this that the casual web browser will ever know. Companies are doing it everywhere. I emailed an internet provider using the address listed about a job, and I got 3 emails in response -- all automated responses with various applications -- to subscribe.

Companies try to blow it off these days. Here's an example I found:

Direct E-Mail Campaigns

Usenet News Announcements

"E-mail lists may be obtained using a variety of demographic variables."? "we do not promote spamming"? Actually, the only thing they don't promote is their credibility. Gentlemen, spam is any unsolicited advertisement offering a product or service. You're not making people in alt.sailing happy by selling products, whether you post it on one newgroup or 100.


So what should be done these days, regarding a Net sponsored by Frito-Lay? Unfortunately, that's not too clear. The bulk of internet users are against regulation on the net -- but incessant ads threaten the net just as much. Fortunately, there are organizations out there that work to fight off these problems by creating other solutions. Monolith is a great example of this, offering (sub)domain names for free, in response to InterNIC's greed. A potential compromise could be forged as well, such as that mentioned at Fight Spam on the Internet page, which supports commerce, yet has a strong campaign against mass-mailings. Regardless, the struggle continues elsenet, and help is always needed. Get involved, do something to stop this commercial edition of "Perpetual September." Yes, you too can help prevent the spread of halebopp.com on the Internet.

Corey Welton

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