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OPINION MARCH 19 , 2001
Talkin' Smack: Synergize This!

Or, why I skipped Internet World

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

It all started when I agreed to accompany my colleague to the Internet World convention, which took place last week in Los Angeles. He registered us as press, and, within seconds, I was receiving the latest pitches from exhibitors and their PR agencies to come by their booths and discover how they were going to change the world with their solutions to e-commerce.

Now, these Internet companies speak a language all their own. They don't sell products; rather, they offer "end to end solutions." These solutions are supposed to "synergize" with my "paradigm" and, somehow, "revolutionize" my business model. It doesn't actually seem to matter what business I'm in. These solutions are the answers to all my "cyber" problems—"virtually" speaking, of course.

No wonder the NASDAQ is in such a sorry state. I think the people who run these Internet companies have actually started believing the crap they read about themselves in consumer publications. Or at least what they used to read about themselves. Even fishwrappers like Time and Newsweek no longer publish those zealful stories about how the Web is changing the way we live our lives. (You know the ones. You can picture those four-color spreads with royalty-free images of computer keyboards, fiber-optic cables and a bunch of zeros and ones in an old IBM-style font to look "futuristic.")

So what is it with these companies? Are they trying to wreck it for us all? High-profile business failures have made commerce on the Web something of a joke; but when these companies continue to spew the same old clichés, it makes it all the more painful.

So, anyway, here I was, faced with literally 50 invitations to go visit these revolutionary synergizers with not a single hint of anything of value coming out of this trade show. What was I to do? I blew off the whole show.

It's a pity too. It's a pity that the focus of the Internet has shifted away from creative potential toward meaningless "solutions" to iffy business practices. And it's not just Internet World either. All the trade shows these days are allowing vapid Internet "solution providers" to dominate their agendas. I've mentioned Seybold in a previous column as an example of this dilution of content and how this year's upcoming show (a print show, mind you) is about 75 percent Web-oriented. Whether the show is targeted toward print, video or audio, you just can't escape it.

And it just doesn't make sense. The Internet isn't even new anymore. There's no hype value left. So what's the deal? It's a different resolution, a different frame rate and a different sampling frequency. That's it. Other than these, content on the Web operates under the same principles as any other medium. So the focus of trade shows should not be on the Web per se, but upon techniques and the tools available to get the job done.

I hope this is the last year we'll see our various associations and trade show organizers wasting our time and dues pursuing vacuous topics just to appear to be at the vanguard of technology. The irony, of course, is that the Internet is in every respect a step backward in technology—in design, typography, picture quality, polygon count or any other aspect of creative content you'd care to ponder. It's a great vehicle for information, yes, but we should stop treating it as if it were some kind of technological messiah manifest on earth.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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