Media praise for The Web After Five Years

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"We'll be posting [The Web After Five Years] on the New and Kewl site.... Rob and I are still amazed that more is not being done to document the amazing development of this medium. We're very happy that O'Reilly is wise enough to publish journals such as this one....

"The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in cooperation with O'Reilly & Associates recently published the World Wide Web Journal: The Web After Five Years, a collection of scholarly and technical writings. The book's mandate is to chronicle how today's Web is still trying to capture the small-scale, collaborative vision of its earliest incarnations while also posing unprecedented challenges as a commercial mass-medium. The very last article caught my attention. Entitled 'Ubiquitous Advertising on the WWW: Merging Advertisement (sic) on the Browser,' authors Youji Kohda and Susumu Endo propose an advertising framework where an advertising agent (that is, a piece of software rather than an actual person), is placed between advertisers and users. The agent's job is to deliver advertisements to users who agree to see ads on their browsers while they are online. People would sign a contract, possibly including information on private demographics such as sex, age, home address (and I quote 'It would be wonderful if we could determine a user's current and long-term interests with no declaration, but the Web is not quite ripe for that use'). To knowingly simplify the explanation, the ads are merged with content the user requests, so that every web page is displayed with a filtered, pre-qualified ad, whose message was determined by the users' choice in the contract. In this way, the authors quite accurately suggest that the current "advertising vacuum" be filled and advertising becomes truly ubiquitous....

"I eagerly await the publication of their results, if indeed their proposal gains the support it needs to develop the prototype further.

"And why wouldn't they receive support? In Youji Kohda and Susumu Endo's proposal the model only works when the users expressly give their consent to receive the ads, and advertisers have to ask for personal information because there is no other way (right now) to determine their interests.

"Like most who are involved in using the web for business, I am both an advertiser and a consumer. As a consumer, my first reaction to Ubiquitous Advertising directly after reading the fictional end result of such a scheme was 'no way, not me, I'd never participate in that kind of invasive marketing.'

"As a marketer, I am excited by the unprecedented opportunity to define a mass medium. I am titillated with the potential of bringing otherwise unrecognized inventors, novelists, products and services to a wider public, introduce things that I know have a place in the world and seek only to find their niche audience. I am eager to use the inherent strengths of technology and the medium to achieve this....

--Judith Keenan