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Commentary for: 16 March 1998
Last Week's edition

Last week's "experiment" with keyword-bolding received a very mixed response from readers but the balance of opinion was generally against rather than for. So I've reverted to the original style for this week's issue.

Thanks to all those who took the time to send me their opinions.

Bite your tongue!
award logo The Net has always been a great place for the outspoken and highly opinionated, and up to now it's been a pretty safe place to speak your mind. Indeed, one of the earliest components of the Internet was usenet, a collection of discussion forums that now numbers over 30,000, covering just about every subject imaginable from cooking to nuclear fusion.

Likewise, many people have created Web pages to announce their views and opinions to the world - apparently free from fear of legal action.

Well listen-up folks, the bubble appears to have burst and we're now seeing an increasing number of people being sued for defamation as a result of the things they're saying on the Net.

And it's not just the person who makes the statements who's being targeted by these law suits. Regular readers of the daily edition of Aardvark will have seen this story last week where an Australian ISP has been sued for defamation because of the actions of one of its customers.

Likewise, this story from the USA indicates that individuals who step over the line won't be spared the wrath of the law. Even the infamous Matt Drudge has been slapped with a defamation suit for things he's said on the Net.

An unbridled freedom to state your mind has become one of the victims of the Net's evolution from the cornerstone of geekdom into a mainstream commercial communications and publishing medium. Mind you, I don't think this is a bad thing - it's very easy to engage in character assassinations on the Net without providing any substantive facts.

I suspect there are BMW dealers and their clients (the lawyers) all over the world rubbing their hands with glee at the chance to bill some big bucks in the coming years, as publishers and individuals learn the hard way that the Net is no longer the no-fault playground it once was.

Be careful out there lest your tongue gets your bank account into big trouble!

Disclaimer: Of course - none of what I've ever said , am saying, or will say, here or anywhere else, should ever be treated as fact - it's merely an opinion and is in no way intended to infer anything at all, about anyone, for any reason, for any purpose, at any time, at any place, etc, etc. :-)

Smoke and mirrors
It's amazing how easy it can be to fool your eyes and your brain sometimes. We've all seen those optical illusions where straight lines look bent, and bigger things look smaller, all thanks to a little visual sleight of hand.

So here's a little problem - how do you turn a flat, two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional one?

The simple answer is - you can't. However, some smart people have done a damned good job of giving the illusion of 3D by using some simple image distortion created by a special viewer applet written in Java.

So, turn on your Java and take a look at the Be Here site where they're promoting their panoramic camera and online viewer system. Don't be fooled by the thumbnail images, click on them to get the real effect.

Looks pretty good doesn't it?

But wait - there's better!

Dave Blyth from Web Design sent me the URL for this site which has a different, and I think much better version of the same idea.

This second system allows you not only to pan and tilt, but also to zoom. This is a very, very impressive illusion of 3D!

And did you note - you can do all this high-tech viewing without the hassle of having to download and install a plug-in? It's great to see Java actually starting to live up to its promise.

An A+ for 3Ds

Only Aardvark gives away millions of dollars worth of good ideas every month!
Another Million Dollar Idea
Continuing my philanthropic streak, here's this week's Million Dollar Idea - why doesn't someone manufacture and market (through the Net of course) a Bill Gates Voodoo Doll? Imagine how many people would be prepared to pay for the chance to "stick it to Bill". I suspect you'd sell-out the first batch with the orders from Sun and Oracle alone!

In fact, a smart marketer would send Larry Ellison, Marc Andreessen and Scott McNealy a free sample - with a dozen spare pins - imagine how the press would have a field-day with that! And who wouldn't want a little effigy of Bill to turn to when Windows crashes just before you are about to save the last 2 hours of work?

Hell, why not go the whole hog and also produce an OEM version that can only be sold with a PC. Get stickers printed that say "Gates-doll On Top" and plaster them all over every machine that ships with the OEM version.

To make the doll even more realistic you could place a heavy weight in its head so that it "falls over" at regular intervals.

Here's the sales pitch:
"Get your new Bill Gates Voodoo Doll Now!  Doll comes pre-assembled and complete with spare pins and a desire to rule the world. Cream pie and personal hygiene products not included. Rumoured to be unsuitable for young children due to 'small parts'"

Following up on a previous "Aardvark Million Dollar Idea", it seems that even though Microsoft weren't listening, it's possible these guys may have read this edition of Aardvark Weekly.

Spreading my wings
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I've added two new sections to Aardvark Daily.

These are the Marketing News and the Domain News (formerly hosted by 2Day Internet).

These pages won't necessarily be updated every day - only whenever there's something new relevant to those topics but keep a regular eye on them anyway.

Note that Aardvark Weekly will soon also be available through the 7am News InfoConsoleTM so you'll be able to add the contents of this column to your very own Web site.

If you're not moving forwards, you're sliding backwards!

This Week's Featured "Aardvark Enabled" Site

Chelsea Technologies

Aardvark Enable your own site and you too could appear here!


The I.C.B.I.T Award
I Can't Believe It's True!

Every now and then I run across a Web page that is stunning in its simplicity and effectiveness. Sometimes, through the careful use of white-space and economic application of text and graphics, a skillful Web designer can make "less" into "more".

On the other hand, sometimes not.

Concise enough for you?

And to think, they're paying $5/month to say this!

 
Right of Reply.

Yet again I've been too easy on the cowboys and idiots who populate the Net in increasing numbers.

There's no right of reply to publish this week!


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