My First Internet Story...
...And Other Early Tales Of Navigating the Info
The Internet gets a bad rap. All we seem to hear about is the
intellectual thievery, the plotting by miscreants, the "feelthy
peectures," and the viruses that prove once again how destructive
we are. And here we are, you and I, professionally involved with
the dang thing.
You and I? Absolutely. We may be in the photo business, but what is the Internet without photos? It's no scoop here that the two go together. As Kodak CEO George Fisher spoke of that relationship with dollar signs for punctuation, back in the early '90s.
Whatever the Internet was then, whatever today, we know this much: it's still only warming up. Perhaps it won't really be prime-time before it carries full-screen, full-motion video with broadcast-like smoothness, and perhaps that's still a ways off. It's for real now, anyway. We have a stake in knowing its capacities because, as we're told in this month's lead story "It's Not Your Father's Digicam," its capacities influence how folks use photos. Has anyone published a test report on the Internet?
The Bottom Line Tops The List?
For reasons I understand, but won't even try to explain, the biggest headlines about the Internet are about its money. You know, "Revenues from Internet to Total Jillions, Says Analyst," or "Losses From Internet to Total Gazillions, Says Analyst." Why is it always "says analyst?" Why isn't it "says computer programmer" or "systems engineer?" Maybe because analysts publish their press releases on time. But how did the witchcraft and voodoo, obsession and compulsion of the stock market become frontpage news in the first place? I remember when the stocks were sandwiched between the weddings and the funerals, in the back of the paper. That's the part I won't try explaining—any explanation makes me depressed.
Meanwhile, the "dotcom collapse," which everyone remembers, was preceded by something no one should forget. Before its big money made the headlines, the Internet's standing as a communications medium was what everyone talked about.
Is it a successful communications medium? Oh, brother. I don't know if I mentioned it, but eBay showed up as an exhibitor at Digital Focus during the last PMA show, and again at PC Expo. What does it tell us, when the hotshot of the Internet is exhibiting at a photo show? Any investor who can't make a pile on the Internet should have his or her trust fund surgically removed, for the good of the patient.
But this column is not about investing. It's about the utilization and deployment of resources that make money in photo. Let me tell you about my first Internet story.
When I say "my first Internet story," I don't mean my first about the Internet. I've been writing those for fourteen years.
When I say my first Internet story, I mean the first that was suggested, researched, embellished, and submitted for publication, all on the Internet. If you leave out a few phone calls and maybe 30 hours of driving up and down I-95, everything about this story was done on the Internet. It would not have been the same story, were it not for the Internet. In fact, it would not even have happened without the Internet.
It was done on the Internet with consumer electronics. I use the selfsame digicams your customers do. Until last February, my computer was way below state-of-the-art—a mere 500MHz P3, running Windows 98. To this very day, my Internet connection is by a 56k dial-up. From the standpoint of technical potential, almost anyone could do what I did. The question before us is, how soon will they?
Internet Content: If It's Not One
Geography quiz: What do the ports of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have in common? You say it's water? You're quite right, but I was thinking of something else. Each has an old tugboat. A preserved old tugboat. A museum tug. Have you ever thought about that before?
At the end of last year, I had an assignment for Marine News magazine for an illustrated story about maritime preservation, tugboat style. When I started my research, I knew only about the1887 tug Hay-De in New York. Now I know about 30 more. Yep, next to submarines, tugs are the most popular watercraft selected for preservation. I'll bet you never thought about that, either.
The assignment came from an editor I've never met. We don't even talk on the telephone. We send e-mails. From the day he said "do it," it's been an Internet story by all definitions. When the time came, I sent the text and photos for publication by e-mail, as I've been doing since the late 1980s.