Way back near the beginning of Web time (the summer of 1995), I was assigned the task of writing PROFIT‘s first stories about the Internet. Although I was fresh out of school and had never written a feature-length piece before, I was also the only writer the editors knew with an Internet account—even if my DOS-based home PC could surf the Web at blazing speeds of up to 14.4 kbps, and only in text. Fortunately, my pal presided part-time over a York University computer lab where every machine had Windows 3.1 and a 56K modem.
Because most Canadian entrepreneurs were curious about getting online but wouldn’t know a hyperlink if they saw one, we published a large package of Net stories in our October-November 1995 issue. On the cover was the headline “How to make money on the Internet” and a picture of Jim Carroll, known best at the time as co-author of the Canadian Internet Handbook series. Inside, Carroll led readers on a guided tour of this “strange new world.” We profiled some of the best websites north of the border, such as the online portals of the Canadian Football League, Molson Canadian beer and Whistler Mountain resort. We also ran an oh-so-1995 list of FAQs, answering such urgent questions as “How do I get on the Net?” and “Who uses the Net?” (In our response to the latter, we reported that “21,000 businesses were providing information on the Net at the beginning of the year.”)
In retrospect, that package was surprisingly level-headed. It warned readers that the Net was “not the Information Highway’s fast lane to riches” (now that’s 1995), but rather “an affordable medium that businesses can use to market, support and sell products, locally or worldwide.” However, it also claimed that as bandwidth increased and technology evolved, desktop computers would become the interactive TV of the next decade, a “two-way multimedia device perfect for education, entertainment and, of course, selling.”
Turns out we were right, give or take a year or two. Twelve years after we published the first one, PROFIT‘s second big e-business package is a guide for entrepreneurs and skeptics alike to the power of today’s Internet. Inside, you’ll learn more about business-ready, low-cost tools and tactics you’ve heard of, such as Skype and all things Google. You’ll also be glad to discover other oddly named things such as Dabble DB, Pageflakes and crowdsourcing, a Web-enabled way to get thousands of people around the world to develop your products for you, usually for free. Strange new world, indeed.
I invite your feedback on anything you see in PROFIT. Please send your comments to me at Ian.Portsmouth@PROFIT.rogers.com