Internet World Fall 2000 Conference
This huge, multifaceted show had something for all the senses
by Jane Dysart, Stephen Abram, and Pete Stair
Start with the eyes when getting a sense of the show—there’s so much to see. The Humor Network (http://www.humornetwork.com) got ready for Halloween by commenting sardonically on the numerous dot-com crashes with a graveyard in its booth. AtomFilms’ (http://www.atomfilms.com) booth was made up of corrugated steel and sleek sofas in unbelievable shapes. Many booths had two stories, with meeting rooms on the upper levels.
And what about the ears? The volume was quite incredible, as many of the larger booths blasted out their stories. But attendees could still spend time talking to the thousands of company representatives, who were there to help them understand the numerous products and services.
Smell was one of the newest senses to be stimulated on the exhibit floor. Introduced at the Spring 2000 show, DigiScents (http://www.digiscents.com) now has a prototype appliance, which, when attached to your computer, emits certain aromas. Want to smell those home-baked cookies or breads? It boggles the mind to think of where this new product is going. There was nothing to taste (that we found, anyway), but who knows what will be next.
There were also lots of things to touch in the exhibit hall—it didn’t
take long to fill our bags with both goodies and far too much paper. Although
much of this information is on the companies’ Web sites, we still seemed
to collect lots of paper-based press releases, etc.
Content Management Lives
Those in the information industry will be happy to hear that content management was a popular theme at this year’s conference—from the Web Content Management Forum, to Syndication & Affiliates Forum Content, to lots of exhibits on the show floor. Some of these exhibitors we’ve known and used for years: Verity, Inc. (http://www.verity.com), which emphasized its work with corporate portals for sharing information within an enterprise; Gale Group (http://www.galegroup.com), a content provider; and Inxight Software (http://www.inxight.com). There were some interesting information industry newcomers to the exhibit floor this year, including Bloomberg.com (http://www.bloomberg.com), a major business content provider, and Vignette (http://www.vignette.com), which announced alliances with many other companies in an effort to provide more rounded, total content-management solutions.
There were lots of finding tools and search engines at the conference. This was Northern Light’s (http://www.nlsearch.com) first time on the exhibit floor, even though 2 years ago it rented a bus and parked it across the street to attract the press and others. The company has come a long way, introducing at the show SinglePoint, a custom enterprise portal that signals its entrance into the B2B market. Oingo (http://www.oingo.com)—with its meaning-based search system that is very much into words, phrases, and ontologies—was a fairly new exhibitor at Internet World. (The company was pushing the availability of its system for portals and intranets.) NVision (http://www.nv3d.com) is a provider of leading-edge information navigation systems. Its product, NV3D, enables users to navigate and explore large, complex data structures in a highly interactive, 3-D environment. Babylon.com (http://www.babylon.com), with over 7 million users worldwide, launched in North America. It has a converged portal where you can download hundreds of helper taxonomies that users contribute as well as a patent-pending automatic translation service that even handles words contained in graphics. Another newer use for taxonomies was provided by RuleSpace (http://www.rulespace.com), which utilizes them to enable rule-driven filtering for e-mail, promotions, and advertising.
demonstrated an interesting new technology of image indexing and information
retrieval. For example, it lets users grab an image from anywhere (video,
JPEGs, GIFs, etc.), and search the Web to locate places where they might
be able to purchase that item. Search helper applications were everywhere.
Some, like Zapper (http://www.zapper.com),
automatically analyze the context of your selection and instantly deliver
the most relevant search results and retrieve the information you want
from within your favorite Web sites, without browsing.
There were lots of other fascinating exhibits at the show. Many were related to the wireless push and included hardware devices like Research in Motion’s Blackberry (http://www.blackberry.net) and software solutions to stream content to smaller devices like Pinpoint (http://www.pinpoint.com). Some of the more interesting companies include the following:
The conference also seemed decidedly calmer and lacked some of the super-hype of previous years—attendees and exhibitors appeared to be focused on trying to get to know the “real” customer. The phrase “customer experience measurement” was a prevailing theme in several booths. Many offered specialized behavior-tracking systems, or innovative polling and online survey offerings. Some examples are .com Group (http://www.thedotcomgroup.com), Inquisite (http://www.inquisite.com), Insight Express (http://www.insightexpress.com), Vividence (http://www.vividence.com), Watchfire (http://www.watchfire.com), and WebCriteria (http://www.webcriteria.com).
There were lots of companies showing interesting 3-D applications. Both LIPSinc (http://www.lipsinc.com) and Mendel Technology (http://www.mendel3d.com) demonstrated how to create more human-like avatars for your Web site, utilizing their lipsynching and facial-animation technologies. With different facial expressions, and heads and eyebrows that move, it will be interesting to see how people react to this new application. Indeed, there were lots of indications that 3-D is almost ready for prime time in the e-tail world. Some examples we saw were RealityWave (http://www.realitywave.com), Hypercosm (http://www.hypercosm.com), and Activeworlds.com (http://www.activeworlds.com).
Two other themes we saw on the floor were the challenges of addressing e-mail overload and interacting with customers on your Web site before they abandon their shopping cart or search. There also seems to be a convergence of instant messaging (IM), streaming video, and voice-enabled Web sites. Some examples we saw that dealt with these include the following:
The conference also showcased a lot of entertainment-space offerings. Some that caught our attention included the following:
Jane I. Dysart is a principal of Dysart & Jones Associates, an
information industry consultancy. She is also program director for Internet
World Canada 2000. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Abram is vice president of IHS Solutions, and his e-mail address is email@example.com.
Henry (Pete) Stair is president of Mycroft Information, LLC, and his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writers presented a session entitled “What’s Hot at the Show” at Internet World Fall 2000.
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