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21th July 1997
Killing the boredom factor
It's interesting to watch the activities of the average person as their introduced to the Internet.

At first they're apprehensive, scared of the technology and the unknown - will they accidentally encounter some horrifying pornographic images? Will they get so hopelessly lost that the Net police will need to send out a search party?

Of course that trepidation passes pretty quickly once the novice Net user realises that all they have to do is point and click to do almost anything on the World Wide Web.

Then follows a period of absolute bliss and immersion in the Net. Otherwise sane people can be found hunched over their computer screen right into the we small hours of the night while their ISPs (unless they're flat-rate customers) gleefully count the dollars that they'll be paying at the end of the month.

This "honeymoon phase" often continues for up to several months but eventually these Web surfers start to realise that even something as big and exciting as the Net has its limitations and can become very tedious.

A few weeks on and gradually the lure of the Web wanes. "Where will we go today?... I don't know, we've been to Yahoo, CNN, Playboy, Disney and all the other top sites". The realisation is made - despite what the media might have us believe, the net can be a boring place!

Here's where the local sites with regularly updated (and I mean at least daily) content fit in.

Some Cool new NZ sites
Until recently, the number of Web sites in New Zealand that carried interesting, regularly updated content could be counted on one hand and were mostly News-oriented.

This site (Aardvark), @IDG, Soda, NBR, 7am and The Press, are probably the most popular of these non-ISP "daily" sites.

Some others such as CyberZeal have come and gone while a few less regularly updated sites such as Infotech, NZine and the number of good columns and publications hidden deep within the bowels of the Xtra site have also been worth visiting regularly.

In the past month or so however, there have been a few new sites appearing on the NZ Web with the promise that they'll be a source of regularly updated content.

Plug, a creation of Peter Belt is one of these. Nice graphics and a front page which is updated regularly are great features but behind the escutcheon it is primarily a link-site using similar categories to the ClearNet and Xtra sites. Hopefully it will expand to carry more regularly updated local content to keep visitors within the www.plug.co.nz domain.

First up we have YAAS (Yet Another Awards Site) in the form of The Lazer Awards. Unfortunately I think we're possibly reaching saturation level with Web Awards. Now we have: Wammo, SODA, The Soggy Parsnip, Aardvark's own ICBIT (I Can't Believe It's True), The Plug, The Lazer, IDG's Web Site Of The Week, Dr Stir's Worst Of The Web and the "Pogo Award" which can be seen at www.pogo.co.nz (only after you've registered and logged in though).

At last.. some fresh content

ASB Bank
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now THIS is a good site!
But wait.. there's more!
Doctor Stir is a site that offers great potential if some momentum can be achieved and maintained.

My personal favourite at present though is the unique and very entertaining Andimation site. It's funny, different and, unlike so many other sites on the NZ Web, manages to involve the visitor by providing some good opportunity to interact and voice an opinion or add your own warped sense of humour to what's on offer. I certainly hope that the developers of this site keep up the good work - it's excellent. In fact if Aardvark offered an award for excellence, this site might get it - but do we really need another award? :-)

Of course I also have to mention 7am's TV Pages which carry listings for NZ's TV channels updated every day plus a forum for discussing TV-related issues.

And of course if you're a regular visitor to Aardvark's own New Sites page then you've probably already visited some of the sites I've mentioned this week.

Let's hope we see many more sites like these which offer to kill the boredom that sets in after you've visited all the "big name sites" overseas.

More on the WWW (Wild West Webdesigners)
Regular readers will realise that I'm always complaining about the ease with which almost anyone can buy a copy of front-page, a computer, a modem and an internet connection then call themselves a Web Designer.

Russell Holland from WebFoot Publications writes and tells me that according to his research, there have been 51 new "Web Designers" listed in the Search NZ New Sites section during the past 84 days. That's 4.25 new Web designers per week. I'm sure that this will only serve to accentuate the current shortage of saddles and horses.

Hi ho silver away!
1ZB and Radio Pacific look out!
Usenet - the new talkback radio
While some people turn to talkback radio to air their views and garner public opinion on "issues of the day", an increasing number of others seem to be finding out about Internet newsgroups, or usenet as it's called.

Since the defection of now ex-Alliance MP Ms Kopu, the nz.politics and nz.general newsgroups have been running very hot, with opinionated postings from a growing number of Net users.

We know that the government listens carefully to the comments which are voiced on talkback radio, I wonder if they're doing the same with usenet? Based on the published demographics of the Net, one would assume that this window to people's opinions would be a valuable complement to talkback.

I have a feeling however that parliament and the MPs within it might not be too happy with the tone or sentiments expressed in the majority of postings.

I wonder how long before the first MP is brave enough to venture forth onto the Net through the usenet channel and answer some of the criticisms leveled by the public? Yes Maurice and associates - this *IS* a challenge. Let's see our elected representatives grab the Internet by the throat and wring some value out of it. Net users vote too you know!

Lawyers on the Net (follow-up)
As is always the case when I do a whirlwind tour of one part of the Web I left out a few sites of note.

The Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co site is very nice. Economical use of graphics and packed full of content. A model for their peers!

Unfortunately I can't call it perfect because their link pages don't include references to either Aardvark or 7am. Come on guys, time to update those pages don't you think? :-)

Another oversight was Brookfields Legal Services. The front page is very reminiscent of the traditional lawyer's den - conservative and maybe suffering from the kind of darkness that you get when legal briefs are stacked high against the room's only window. Otherwise however it's ergonomic enough and is a good example of a "brochure site" - primarily used to promote the firm's services.

The Russell McVeagh site has enough added value to keep people coming back on a regular basis. By comparison I suspect that most people will visit the Brookfields site just once. This is the difference between promotion and presence.

Hi ho silver away!

I Can't Believe It's True!
Maybe you don't need a pretty page with nice graphics to create an effective Web page after all. The page's owner waxes lyrical about their site that turned $600 into $20,000 - at the same time praising Internet Marketing (The Plug's alter-ego) for their sterling performance.

So check out the claims and then look at the pages they're talking about. Remember when all Web pages were gray? It looks like graphics don't have to exist to be effective either!

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