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28th July 1997
There's a gunfight a brewin'
Regular readers will know that I get pretty hot about the growing number of cowboys that are moving into the Internet industry.

You can usually tell a cowboy by his CV. Look for such previous occupations as used-car salesman, insurance salesman, cellphone salesman and computer salesman/exspurt.

These are the type of people who chase the "hot trends". Whenever there's a market where the naive are buying the complex - the cowboys won't be far away. They usually come in fairly early in the evolution of these markets - after the money starts to flow but before the customers start to understand the products they're buying.

I recently encountered an incredible example of rampant cowboyism, an example that has sent chills down the spine of many bona-fide Internet professionals.

The name will be suppressed to protect the guilty - but this is the story of someone who claims to be the (and I quote his exact words) "Leading Internet Consultant in New Zealand".

Sounds impressive doesn't it? This is obviously someone with a wealth of experience and no doubt a very rich list of big-name customers.

Well this "expert" recently posted several commercial messages to a New Zealand usenet newsgroup. Strange that such a highly skilled individual should not be aware of Netiquette?

This piqued my curiosity so I emailed the person concerned to ask for some background information and maybe the names of some of his key clients.

Surprise, surprise!

It seems that our "expert" only got serious about the Net in early 1996. Hmm... just over a year's experience, well maybe he's a fast learner?

In response to the request for some kind of indication as to the calibre of his key clients I received the following email:

Thank you for your letter I am to busy to talk... about what I call a waste of my time!!!

Please stop sending me mail!! as I am sure you have more important things to do

It seems that the "Leading Internet Consultant in New Zealand" is a very busy man indeed. I should think so too - he has eleven, yes ELEVEN email addresses!

So why am I bitching?
So why am I making such a big noise about this guy? I sit sour grapes that he's the "Leading Internet Consultant in New Zealand" and I'm not?

I don't think so :-)

Without exception, all the real professionals I've spoken to are concerned about the kind of damage that this type of self-appointed expert status can do to the industry.

There are no certification authorities and even membership of an organisation such as ISOCNZ is no endorsement of an individual's abilities, experience or ethics.

If the "Leading Internet Consultant in New Zealand" has less than 18 months worth of experience - having previously been an interior decorator, what kind of impression is that likely to make on the many small and large businesses about to take the leap and engage the Net as a marketing and commerce tool?

How can someone who thinks that having three copies of his Web site under different URLs on the same Web server will increase performance possibly provide informed advice to organisations looking to make sensible decisions about doing business on the Net?

As an industry, we're going to have to get to grips with this rapidly growing problem before the market perceives all those who work in Net-related fields as failed insurance salesmen and idiots.

the real experts are worried

ASB Bank
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Don't hold your breath
Web TV - the problems
Good idea eh? Use your TV set to surf the Net?

It's such a good idea that there are a number of consumer electronics companies investing quite large sums in an effort to capture the potential market for set-top boxes that will turn your TV into a handy Web browser.

Don't hold your breath here in New Zealand though!

Unfortunately we don't have the necessary cable TV networks of any magnitude here and that's what'll be needed before WebTV becomes a reality for the average NZ household.

Sure, we could use dial-up modems, but can you imagine the overloading that would occur whenever an ad-break came along and everyone rushed to go surfing for 4 minutes? What ISP is going to put in enough lines to handle these huge peaks in demand, knowing full well that for 90% of the time those lines will go unused, returning no revenues.

WebTV in New Zealand - don't hold your breath!

The ASB gets serious about the Net
Have you noticed? Everywhere you go on the Web at the moment there are banner ads for the ASB Bank's new FastNet banking service.

And don't think these ads are confined to New Zealand sites... If you've dropped into Yahoo recently your just as likely to have been greeted with an ASB Bank banner.

Hell, they're even on Aardvark and 7am!

Apart from injecting some rather nice ad-revenues into the NZ Web-content industry, this ad campaign (and the Ergo one which has been running for quite some time, are good indicators that the Web is "coming of age" as an advertising medium in this country.

Hopefully this small glimpse of what the future may hold in terms of other big-names investing in Web advertising may see the amount of locally produced content continue to grow.

Much needed endorse- ment
Passive surfing?
The Net on TV
If you haven't already seen it, take an hour out of your busy schedule to take a look at some late-night TV.

TV4 (if you can get it) is screening a US programme called The Site. This is a pacey (if somewhat greasy) programme that offers news about the Net, its technology, content and culture. There's an accompanying Web Site if you miss the program or want to see what's coming up.

The excellent - but now somewhat dated "Life on The Internet" series has just finished a repeat screening and has also has a supporting Web Site

A new series titled "Internet Alive" now screens on TV1, Thursday mornings at 9:00am. This program has been developed in conjunction with AIT.

CNN have an excellent series called CNN Computer Connection which screens on Sunday evenings NZ time. It's an enlightening mixture of the latest industry news with a few interesting Web-sites and themes thrown in for good measure.

Watch out for another locally made programme (sponsored by Xtra) about the Net which will screen later this year and is fronted by Fiona MacDonald of the Headless Chickens and Straw People.

I Can't Believe It's True!
I can't believe it's true - I didn't have enough time to sort out the entrants for this week's award. Check back later in the week though - I'll get around to it by Wednesday!

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