Canadian Internet gurus pull ahead of the publishers pack with their
by Alan Zisman (c) 1995 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #304 August 22, 1995 High Tech Office column
how book publishers, like movie producers, and TV sitcom creators, seem
move in herds (or is it gaggles?) When one of them produces a
product, a host of similar volumes quickly appear.
of computer books... a big section in almost every bookstore nowadays.
the success of the volume 'DOS for Dummies', the publisher quickly came
with other bright yellow 'XXXX for Dummies' books (and even expanded
from computers. There are now 'Everyday Math for Dummies, 'SAT for
and more). And the imitators lost little time in following up... there
now bright orange 'Windows for Idiots', and other clones and
theme was CD-ROMs and Multimedia. But this year, inevitably, it's the
I've personally received about a dozen for review in the last 12
and after a while, they start to blur together. (By the way, it's not
the trend for publishing... according to Silicon Valley trendwatcher
the same has been true for venture capital-- multimedia is passe, this
investments are in Internet-related startups).
And with a
Angus Reid poll suggesting that 17% of adult Canadians (or 3.4 million)
to have Internet access, this is an area witnessing tremendous growth.
no longer more than slightly surprised to see roadside billboards
an Internet provider.
Carroll and Rick
Broadhead have picked two ways to stand out from this year's Internet
clones... for a start, they're Canadian and aiming at a Canadian
and secondly, they're pitching their book at the business user.
published two editions of the Canadian Internet Yellow Pages-- a
of Canadian access providers and content providers that reached
proportions, selling over 100,000 copies between them. (Because the
is a moving target, any resource list such as the Yellow Pages is out
date as soon as it's published, making frequent revisions necessary).
is more than a simple directory... it is making the case for
on the Net by business, government, and non-profits. And as much as
it is aiming at Canadians... if only by providing Canadian examples.
an irony here--
the Internet jumps national boundaries, as was evidenced by the ease
which the Karla Homulka trial evidence appeared on the Net despite the
court's publication ban.
being increasingly integrated into North American, or Pacific Rim
is there a separate argument for a 'Canadian' Internet presence? Or is
more a case of the author's trying to establish a small market niche
of the book shouldn't limit it to the Canadian context, and aside from
Canada-only examples, their message isn't limited to North of 48.
do a good job of pointing out both the benefits and limitations of the
for business and government, education, and non-profits. They clearly
to lower the often unrealistic expectations, pointing out that in fact,
Internet is not a place where anyone is making a lot of money (except
for book publishers and Internet access providers). They certainly
that you shouldn't expect a lot of retail sales... at least not in the
where the Internet can serve a useful purpose for business... in
support or in distribution of product information, for example. And
stress the importance of having a clear plan, and explicit goals for an
fact, is the
real meat of the book... a chapter outlining 15 steps to an Internet
Too many companies seem to be rushing headlong onto the Internet, out
a poorly-defined sense that they need to have a presence on the Net
and they'll define the 'whys' sometime later. Instead, Carroll and
propose careful planning, including steps such as assessing the
activities of other firms in your industry, and thinking about your
or target audience. Determining your organization's current Internet
and objectives... and how you will use Internet tools such as e-mail,
or the World Wide Web. Defining costs.
be trite to
mention such common-sense steps for most business projects, but giving
current Net-hysteria, this is the only source I've seen that has so
stepped back and spelled it all out.
book-- it spends virtually no time on the mechanical hardware or
guts. If you're looking for a book describing how to get online, or how
find information on the Net, you should look elsewhere... there are
of such books, including some with the famous bright yellow covers. But
book manages to stand out from the crowd, both in its Canadian context,
much more so for its common sense practicality-- by forcing businesses
define their goals and purpose for being on the Internet, and helping
find the means to achieve their ends.
clarity and realism,
as much as for the models they provide, this could be an important book
many organizations wondering whether to establish a presence on the
And despite its title, its message is equally valid on both sides of
border. It's published by Prentiss Hall Canada, for $29.95.