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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of May 3, 2000

I sounded more than a little bummed out yesterday, didn't I? Sorry for that little outburst, but sometimes you've just got to tell it like it is. So how can I top all that bad news with today's installment? How about a list of even more proof of how the entire world -- or at least that part of it that stills pay attention to the media (in all its forms) -- is completely, asbsolutely and utterly insane. The latest examples have surfaced over the past few days and here they are:

  •   The raft that Elian Gonzalez allegedly rode on is up for auction on E-Bay... bids topped $10,000,000 before the auction was shut down.

  •   Andre Choquette, a Kelowna, BC accountant, has received two bids of $3,000,000 for an internet domain that he registered a few years ago. The title: income.com (Anyone interested in buying northernthunder.com ???)

  •   The share price of a company that has no discernible value (ie, no product, no sales, nothing more than a half-finished website) rises in value from six cents to $17.00 in less than six months. Surprisingly, even with the current bull market for useless/worthless technology stocks, this company's stock is still valued at over $5.00

I'll stop there for now, but the list of examples of these ever-increasing examples of media-induced or aided insanity, is growing exponentially. There have been times recently where I've seriously wondered whether the worldwide web will become the "CB radio" of the new millennium. You do remember that short-lived craze that developed in the 1980's, when almost everyone was going around cluttering up the airwaves with endless, inane chatter. Thankfully, especially for those with a real need to use CB's, the fad died out rather quickly.

Now it's the dawn of a new century and we've got 90,000 new websites coming online every week. Suddenly, everyone in the world seems to have discovered the web and wants to join the party. There's no invitations required, no dress code, and the costs are minimal -- even free, in some cases. You don't even need to know anything about webpage construction; wizards and programs that automatically build pages are included in the current crop of web browsers, so anyone can have a page up on the web almost instantly.

So what's wrong with that? It's called clutter, as in too much useless junk getting in the way of what's important. So who's to decide what's important and what isn't? Well, that's obviously a very subjective question, as what matters to me may have no relevance to almost anyone else. And vice versa. But the sheer volume of websites today is causing even the best ones to get lost in this sea of mediocrity we all have to swim through on our daily surfing expeditions. There's so much repetition and duplication that it's difficult to know where the gems are hiding in the vast steaming pile of dung that the web is rapidly becoming.

In its early stages, the web was strictly content. No fancy graphics, no rotating, flashing, undulating animations, nothing more than black text on a grey background. Pretty boring, eh? Yes and no. At least there was useful information available, in fact that was the primary purpose of the internet. Newgroups were formed for those exchanges of information, not for endless, mindless chatter about the most inane topics. And there was no commercial aspect to the net. Nothing was for sale. Purity and innocence abounded.

Now what have we got? Porno sites by the million; newsgroups for every imaginable -- and some almost unimaginable -- topic, most of which are relevant to a very small percentage of users; chat rooms full of people who really need to find a life. Websites trying to sell you every consumer product from Pokemon cards, Beanie Babies and almost anything you could find at a garage sale, to what seems like a million sites selling exactly the same stuff: books, cd's, toothpaste, underwear, whathaveyou.

This "gold rush" mentality isn't confined strictly to the internet itself, though. In the past year, some of the hottest stocks on the NASDAQ and other lesser exchanges, have been the dot.com's. Springing up overnight, with no real business plan, no real prospect of any serious revenues, no longterm plan to build any real value, these dot.com's were, until very recently, the darlings of the market. Vast fortunes were built overnight, based on nothing more than a "flavour of the day" basis. And as the mania increased, aided and abetted by the mass media, the insanity grew.

For the past few months I've watched, with increasing dismay, as this sickness has expanded and I've felt like I was watching a slew of pyramid schemes gain public acceptance. Some people have done very well though, and the smart ones among them have taken their profits in cash before the inevitable crash started. And it has started. And it will continue. When it comes to money, big money, sanity always prevails in the end.

When the dust settles later this year, or next year, and the net regains some sense of why it exists, then the websites that remain will be worthy of being there. Once the fad wears off and a million or so sites die of neglect, then the ones that really matter to more than their creators will rise to the top. Will Northern Thunder be among those "winners"? Not really. We'll still be here, appealing to a small niche audience, and providing information that is relevant to that audience. We won't be going out of business, simply because we aren't in business. We don't depend on some external funding source, a stock promotion, a business plan that won't fly.

So what the heck has all this got to do with drag racing? To those who see a hidden agenda in almost everything that appears on the web, they might be able to read something between the lines. But there are no agendas here, other than a commitment to provide news and views that are relevant to the sport of drag racing. Nothing more, nothing less. And to those who think they can cash in on the web: get a grip. It's not going to happen! It never will! Accept the web for what it is: a forum for the free exchange of ideas and information. NOT a place to do business, unless you have a real product to sell and real customers willing to purchase that product.

If you think the foregoing was written by an unredeemed Luddite who refuses to accept the reality of the "new economy" . . . you may well be right. But for now, let's for the sake of argument, agree that there might just be a small kernel of commonsense in the preceding paragraphs. Then revisit this page in a few months or a year from now and see if you still feel the same way. As always, feel free to comment, pro or con, and let me know what you think about where the web is at today and where it's headed in the future.

Tomorrow: Something completely different. Back to drag racing and out to Mission Raceway for parking and tech day at the Lordco BC Nationals. If the weather cooperates that is. And at this point, the forecast is a bit dicy. But let's not talk about that now, eh? Let's just assume that it will be a great weekend, weather-wise and racing-wise.

Black Bar
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