How to Make Money Fast on the Internet: Flip a Website!

People came to this country from Europe because of religious persecution, and now the religious right wants to dictate the way people should believe. And then people want to put up gates and fences around our borders (fearing that an influx of newcomers will mean native-born Americans will be forced to do with less).
-- from an article in last week's New York Times on changing attitudes in the American heartland.

Let me take a moment to reflect on how sometimes we Americans take our freedoms and independence for granted. Take the case of Internet access for example: most of us feel that we need more bandwidth to do our jobs, never thinking that what bandwidth we do consume is more than that available collectively in entire countries.

And many of us think nothing of switching from one Internet provider to another, never thinking about how few choices many people of the world have to obtain access (such as in China, where the government is getting into the Internet access business to censor incoming data, among other things). I found it interesting that in all the coverage of the Communications Decent Act, never did I find any mention of what the Chinese government is doing. Sometimes we can be so insular.

Think globally, act locally is still very much relevant today.

On to this week's topic: my latest job has become a web site arbitrageur, buying and then selling a few weeks' later Paul Hoffman's WebCompare site to MecklerMedia. The new site is now up and running at either or, check it out and let me know what you think: there is perhaps the largest roundup of web server products in one place, covering close to 70 different ones running on just about every operating system imaginable.

I didn't plan on flipping the site (as it is called in the arb biz), but through some good timing it turned out that way. And indeed, it is one way to Make Money Fast. I'll continue to maintain the site: if you don't see your favorite server listed, or see some big boo-boo, let me know.

Reactions to WI#30 (news coverage of online publications)

Boy, I got lots of email from you on my last essay concerning the changing nature of news and how it is delivered on-line. I'd thought I'd share the better letters with all of you. Most of my mail was in support of still getting our news on paper, rather than from the on-line publications. These two were typical:

"It is pretty hard to take high speed Web surfing to the bathroom with me while Business Week and Fortune are pretty flexible and forgiving if they get wet or my 14 month old daughter throws it in the bathtub." -- Jon Arnold, Edison Electric Institute (End-user IS manager)

"Paper is more readable. Some Web sites are designed by Web masters who don't understand that just because you can combine certain colors and backgrounds, it doesn't mean that you *should* combine them." -- Nancy Teater, Hamilton Communications (PR firm)

The same could be said for Wired magazine's print edition. And this comment mentions a very important use of the web for direct person-to- person communications:

"To truly leverage the power and capabilities of the web, companies need to fundamentally change and expand the way they conduct many of their public relations and marketing communications efforts. As a "marcom" type, I can use the web to develop direct dialogues with crucial audiences such as customers, investors, reporters and analysts. I also find it more valuable to monitor what is being said about a company in daily on-line discussion groups. is a great example. By monitoring these sites, organizations can start to truly measure the impact of the key messages in their marketing campaigns and make quick changes to adjust to a message that is not being well received." -- Darren Orzechowski, Cabletron Systems (PR manager)

Finally, a couple of people mentioned the bait and switch tactics of several large trade mags:

"The weekly pubs have been pretty sneaky with this whole on-line thing. They don't tell us outright, BEFORE we brief them that they intend to publish a short news piece on-line immediately. After the briefing they say, 'Oh, yeah, we'll be writing this up for our on-line section right away. Any problem with that?'"

Awards, Sitekeeping and self-promotions dep't

Two awards this week, highlighting the growing coverage of Intranets on various web sites. A Be.Here.Now award goes to Intranet case study by Arnold Kling, documenting his own search for Intranet products as part of his consulting practice. I liked the way he used HTML pages to tell the story, something that the bigger trade web sites could use to manage longer documents.

And the coveted Big.Duck award goes to Vipul Sheth's Complete Intranet Resource pages. Sheth has done a terrific job of collecting all sorts of stuff -- white papers, listing of vendors, and case studies.

Both of these sites can be found here. And, if you are interested in advertising your Intranet consultancy, services, or products, drop me a note on email and I'll tell you about something I want to do for my WebCompare site.

Finally, while not an award per se, I do want to mention an announcement from AT&T Wireless Data next week: their PocketNet Phone is perhaps one of the more interesting devices to come along this year: take a web browser, build a cell phone around it and add the ability to send and receive data, and what you have is nothing short of extraordinary in terms of a wireless browser. Think of real-time stock quotes, inventory queries, and airline schedule lookups.

This essay is composed in HTML and can be read in your browser. This is not always a simple process, and I'll be happy to provide help if I can. If you are getting this directly from me, or if someone is forwarding it to you, and you want to change that situation, let me know. Subscriptions are always free of charge.

David Strom
+1 516 944 3407
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