ISSUE 457: THE HIGH-TECH OFFICE- July
Top 10 things people do on the World Wide Web
include searching, shopping and smacking Dave
What do you do on the Internet? Business in
Vancouver interviews a reader each week on this page, listing,
among other things, her or his favourite Web sites.
Internet guru Jesse Berst publishes AnchorDesk
(www.anchordesk.com), an online newsletter that appears three
week. For the past few months, it has been teasing readers with the Top
10 things people do on the Web, based on research by CyberAtlas,
eStats, Internet Trak and others.
Let's see how your Web time compares.
10. Online shopping. While widely touted as the
next big thing, shopping just makes the bottom of the list, with $4.8
billion in sales in 1997. Predictions are for this figure to take off,
however, zooming to $109 billion in '98 and a breathtaking $1.75
trillion within four years. We'll see. Shoppers tend to find stores
using search engines, rather than clicking on banner ads, with most
shoppers visiting several sites before parting with any cash.
9. Play games. Interactive online games are
taking off. Not surprisingly, a third of 18 to 24 year olds go online
to play games, but so do 13 per cent of Net users between 54 and 65.
Games played range from Celebrity Slugfest (slugfest.kainzen.net)
where you can take a punch at stars ranging from David Letterman
to Barney, to the online You Don't Know Jack trivia game show
8. Investing. Making money seems to be more
popular than spending it, at least on the Net. An estimated three
million Americans play the stock markets over the Web, with suggestions
that the figure will grow by 500 per cent over the next four years. For
investors willing to do their own research and manage their own
portfolios, the Internet makes stock trading fast, easy and cheap. But
what does it tell you, if a well-known site for information on
investment is called "Motley Fool" (www.fool.com)?
7. Socializing. Chat sounds so patronizing. But
interacting with other people in real-time over the Net is big -- and
growing. Chat need not be purely social. Sites such as CNN
include news-oriented discussion forums, while TalkCity's
Business Center (www.talkcity.com) focuses on business and
finance. Check at www.100hot.com for lists of currently hot
chat sites (and other lists of what's hot on the Net).
6. Booking travel. The bad news for travel
agents is the number of people booking flights and making hotel
reservations over the Net. That's good news, however, for small tourism
operators, who can let a worldwide audience know about their offerings.
Microsoft has moved in on this market, with
expedia.com), while search engine Excite's City.net (city.net)
is also hot. Name your price and Priceline (www.priceline.com)
will try to find you a plane ticket.
5. Downloading software. Not surprisingly,
people with computers use the Net to get stuff for their computers.
That stuff can include bug-fixes and drivers to make their existing
software work better, or any of thousands of easily downloadable
shareware and freeware. (Check www.shareware.com for both Mac
and PC shareware or www.happypuppy.com for games.) Commercial
companies are making betas and demonstration copies of their new
releases freely available and, in many cases, offering users the
ability to buy the software over the Net. Not surprisingly, this has
affected software retailers such as Egghead, who have shut down
their stores in favour of a virtual presence.
4. Online learning. This can range from
for-credit university courses to corporate-based training for
employees. More than 800 North American post-secondary institutions are
offering courses over the Net. At Alberta's Athabaska University,
one-third of the MBA students are finishing their degrees over the
Internet. As with other Net-based activities, online learning operates
24 hours a day, seven days a week. (It's never summer break on the
Net.) But forward-looking institutions, including B.C.'s Open
Learning Agency (www.
ola.bc.ca), have tried to integrate student/teacher discussion
groups into online courses, to give online education some of the
interactivity of its classroom counterpart. In addition to formal
courses, the Internet is brimming with educational sites, ranging from
online encyclopedias (www.encyclopedia.com) to Simon Fraser
University's Ask a Scientist (www.science.ca).
3. Career management. Once you've taken those
courses, it's time to look for a new job. Internet job listings grew by
100 per cent last year. University of B.C. students dropping in
to the career guidance centre can get help using the Net for their
search. Or they can try posting a r?sum? for free at Headhunter (www.headhunter.com).
2. Reading news and sports. We've seen how
print producers such as The Wall Street Journal, Vancouver's Buy
& Sell Press and Business in Vancouver have found
ways to produce online editions without cannibalizing their print
readership. Want sports? Try ESPN (www.espn.
com). More straight-ahead (U.S.-based) news can be found at
CNN (www.cnn.com) or the Microsoft-NBC coalition, MSNBC
(www.msnbc.com). Local Vancouver weather is
online at www.
1. Searching the Net. Given the chaotic state
of the Internet, it's probably no surprise that most often people
search the Net for what they really want to find. (The
is sex.) The No. 1 search site is Yahoo, with its
Canadian-affiliate (www.yahoo.ca) available for Canadian-focused
information. Personally, I tend to use Hot Bot (www.hotbot.com),
both because it's fast and detailed, and its default settings are more
intelligent that the competition's: type in