Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 2, Number 5 / May 1, 1995 / Page 6

New Directions at Internet World

by John December (

SAN JOSE - April 10-13 - The lines were so long to get into the exhibition area at Mecklermedia's Spring Internet World '95 show on its opening afternoon that even Netscape's Marc Andreessen left to try again the next day. The big news at the show included the demo of VRML browsers at the Silicon Graphics booth and CompuServe's announcement that it now provides customers full Web access. New "marriages" were also announced -- Netscape and Sun reaffirmed their relationship for products and technology, although at a press conference Netscape chairman Jim Clark and Sun CEO Scott McNealy promised more specifics at the upcoming SunWorld '95 in San Francisco in May.

The continuing press of new technologies and hype permeated the tradeshow's atmosphere as much as the raucous conversation at Cybershmooze 2.0 (a opening-show party at the San Jose art museum hosted by Niehaus Ryan Haller). However, a subtler message of the show emerged: the need to develop content. Conference sessions reinforced the theme of "content, content, content," as Larry Chase of The Online Ad Agency explained in his presentation on Net advertising.

Laura Fillmore, of the Online bookstore, traced trends in Web publishing. She critiqued AT&T's current "Fairy tale" emphasis in its home page, pointing out that it represented an appropriation of our "common culture," in stories that serve advertising needs, all in a manner that doesn't lend itself toward customers re-visiting the site. She also described MCI's Gramercy Press site as an elaborate, participatory tale, although she described it as "hollow" and seemed not to be able to describe the site's benefit to present or future MCI customers. In contrast, FedEx's WWW-based package tracking system received repeated praise in multiple presentations at the conference, as an excellent example of genuine customer service and value delivered on the Web. Other developments in publishing include several new print entries and changes in online publishing:

The trade show was significantly larger and more glitzy this year, with more than 20,000 people attending. The booths and displays had a remarkably more hyped feel to them this year. Actors portrayed Dwayne and Garth in "Dwayne's World," a "most excellent" overview of IBM's products on display. A few aisles over, women dressed as casino card dealers touted Virtual Vegas, an online entertainment service. ¤

John December is a PhD candidate in Communications and Rhetoric at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-author of The World Wide Web Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1994).

Copyright © 1995 by John December. All Rights Reserved.

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