Quote of the week:
"Donna Rice Hughes has been giving raunchy Internet tours to broadcast and print journalists, one of whom became nauseous and had to leave the room." --
one of the many reaction stories to the Communications Decency Act being heard by our Supreme Court. This one ran in USA Today. Hughes is with Enough is Enough, a anti-porn lobbying organization.
Well, I never seem to get on THOSE press tours.
Instead, my time these past weeks has been devoted towards putting up a new site for CMP called the Intranet Construction Site. It goes live 15 April, and will have a huge collection of articles on practical tips and suggestions on how to build intranets.
In addition to the web pages, there will also be a series of advertorials that will be inserted into four issues each of Network Computing, Communications Week, and Information Week magazines over the course of April and May. Some of the web content will appear in print, but most won't -- a function of the economics of print vs. web.
The process of creating this site has brought home some lessons about coordinating print and web publishing and I thought I'd share them with you. You might also want to take a look at an essay I wrote about a year ago for John December's on-line zine.
Why is this important? Several reasons: how you display URLs in print, how you coordinate copy on web and print editions, and how you motivate return visitors to your web site. If you haven't thought through these issues, please do so. For example, if you have longish URLs, they won't work in print because people either won't type them in or someone will get them wrong.
Actually, the Supreme Court was wrestling with this very issue last week (you knew I had to have a tie-in, didn't you?). Is the Internet more like a phone conversation, a TV broadcast, or shouting obscenities at a street corner? Could be all of the above. But that's for lawyers to figure out - let's get back to building better web sites. (Want to read a transcript of the oral arguments yourself? Enjoy.)
No matter what the legal analogy for the Internet should be, the best web-based writing is short and succinct. This is because reading from a screen is slower than reading from a printed page, as Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox web essay mentions. (If you haven't seen these, you might want to wander over to his site and read a couple of them. Nielsen, who works for Sun, has lots of good advice for web authors, including one of my favorites, "why frames suck (most of the time.")
Think about this before you setup your web site. Can you make modifications easily? Can you serve up dynamic pages from a database? (My Internet provider, Sohonet, uses Allaire's Cold Fusion for doing this, and some of the things they have created are a snap to modify.)
In the process, we also changed the way these mailings were distributed. A brief history, for those who are interested in these things:
When I began WI in September 1995, I was running my web server on Unix and had a perl script to distribute these mailings. The perl worked like a champ, and delivered the actual HTML via email.
Then I moved my server to Sohonet and NT-based WebSite. The perl script was modified to use Blat and Post.Office, rather than Unix sendmail. It worked reasonably well.
Now I am using a Cold Fusion routine that Sohonet built for me. This sends out these mailings directly off my Approach database where I maintain the list. It would work better if I would remember to send the mailing to the right addresses (operator error -- you just can't get away from it!).
Everything should be working okay now -- do let me know if you have any problems with these mailings, or if you want to be removed from the list, or if you have 20 of your closest friends that you'd like to send WI to.
+1 (516) 944-3407
entire contents copyright 1997 by David Strom, Inc.