June 1996


Inventing New Commodities

by Chris Lapham

The idea for this special issue came to me as I was driving home from a CMC Magazine staff meeting. I was listening to NPR--my favorite news source. The station was broadcasting a story about Jupiter Communication's Online Advertising Report, which projected Web ad revenues to reach five billion by the year 2000. This number seemed really amazing to me because I was having trouble selling an inexpensive ad in our magazine to a local company. Where was this big money coming from and where was it going? Will any small sites see some of this five billion, or just the big monster sites? Was the number, in fact, accurate? I wanted answers, and especially the answer that was really on my mind: is it possible to make money online now?

This special issue addresses these questions, provides some background and context on Web commerce, and, as often happens when you do some serious digging on a subject, raises some interesting new questions. If you want to know what's working and why, read Donna Hoffman's interview. I present the current state of things in "The Evolution of the Revolution," and, being the eternal optimist, give some very real reasons to be cheerful.

In keeping with the true spirit of the Internet, it is our pleasure to include in this issue some fresh thinking and articulate theory in "[]"Building Webcentricity"" from Christopher Kresser, just out of USC. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Management professor Bob O'Keefe, a savvy Internet business theorist, and his colleague Gina O'Connor help small businesses (and all business and webmasters for that matter) explore the []positive and negative forces that influence a company's plans to develop a Web presence.

Michel []Bauwens gives us both a great guide to online marketing and his wisdom on how the Internet is changing the way we do business.

To round out the issue, []I interviewed Dr. Donna L. Hoffman, a professor at Vanderbilt University who has broken new ground in the study of marketing online. And Bob Wyman sends a warning signal to the newspaper industry--hold onto your franchise!

It became clear to me in working on this issue that we are moving forward, but perhaps more slowly than most of us would like. I attended Jupiter Communication's recent Consumer Online Services Conference in New York, and I came away with the feeling that it is indeed, []evolution, not revolution that is happening online. But, if you want a peek into the future, read " []The Coming Bandwidth Flood: Marc Andreessen at Jupiter" and let us know if you're going to buy a satellite dish. [TOC]

Chris Lapham ( was the editor of this special issue on Web Commerce.

Copyright © 1996 by Chris Lapham. All Rights Reserved.

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