Some stories you might have missed:

A headline that sums it up: “ Cuts Commerce Unit, Keeps Content Site.” Gee, weren’t we all under the impression that content sites were tanking? Maybe things aren’t so simple. We really love this article, by Betsy Schiffman:

Analysts say’s “real” value was not its commerce unit, but its content. “Content was Reel’s most compelling asset.” [...] Ironically, though, the content will be licensed to bare-bones discount commerce site [...] The music store, for example, used to sell CDs without pictures of the album covers, but the prices were some of the cheapest on the Web. [...] Still, according to CEO Gregory Hawkins, the company found that a certain amount of content is necessary to facilitate sales. “[...] we’ve worked hard to add an appropriate amount.” And Hawkins believes Reel’s content will feed consumers’ appetite. “Certain levels of content are very valuable in the entertainment category,” Hawkins says. So although content may have been debunked as king, it’s still royalty.

And if Web content is shuffling off this mortal coil, why is the Motley Fool canning its print magazine to concentrate on the Web?

(The publication, of which a sole issue has appeared, is referred to using the smug and nauseating business-English neologism play: “the irreverent investor Web site’s magazine play.” We suppose smug and nauseating are what you visit for anyway. Another term we loathe is space: “the Internet content space.” And don’t get us started on the most vile word in the English and even the American language, repurposing.)

Is the Web really about text? We can go either way, but put another notch on the lipstick case of the Yes, and We Don’t Need No Stinking TV Signals Stuffed Through Our Cable Modems faction. Gerry McGovern of the redoubtable Nua Internet Surveys writes:

”Experts” still talk about the Internet in a way that runs totally contrary to what it is. Every time I hear someone go on about the visual and the multimedia and the experience, I ask them to think about how they actually use the Internet. Slowly, painfully, they come to admit that they are like the rest of us – they want to get the information they want quickly.

Good information, of course. Quick-loading tin is worse than slow-loading gold.

Indeed, on that tip, we’re all for unfettered expression, but we’re also in favour of editors, which the kids at kind of need. They endlessly debate the musical question “Is content dead?” and more or less arrive at the conclusion “No, and we, as Web-design sophistiqués, define ’content’ more broadly than most.” Indeed, we love the graphic design of, even if we can’t particularly read it.

Now, this is rich. In Internet World’s regular, stiffly-written “Deconstructing” column of Web criticism, soi-disant user-centred-design maven Peter Merholz whinges: also exposes the perils of “cutting-edge” technology. Trying to view any products in their “3D enhanced area” returned this error on IE5 for Win98: Cannot bind the object with the following variable name: “Dummy.” Make sure it is marked “Interactive” in the object inspectors behavior page. Not a very good experience. And it makes you wonder about the quality of the products in the catalog that are tagged with the “Invented Here” logo.

We seem to recall persistent use of the term “Editorial Dummy” at Merholz’s own site, Epinions. The charitable view is that Merholz has learned from his company’s own error, and now feels empowerd to call other firms on the same transgression.

Posted on 2000-07-07