There are two very different kinds of websites on the information highway. There is the home page the everyday user creates to share their interests with the world. And there is the professionally designed commercial site that companies make to market their business.

There are technologies developing that will enable commercial sites to move beyond anything the personal user is doing. For example, Java is a program that will enable a website to do all sorts of special effects, such as real time animation, synchronize sound with graphics and interactive games. Virtual reality browsers allow a site to create a 3-D world for you to interact with other internet users.

All of these are expensive and difficult to implement. It looks like they will attract all of the internet users to their sites. And only the commercial sites will be able to afford this glitz and glamour.

So what's a little guy to do? How will the personal home page survive in this world?

Well, a home page still has some advantages even without advanced technology and big budgets.

A corporate sites has constraints. It has to extend the corporate image. A pharmaceutical company would put information about their products on their site. But they may not give you any information about side effects.

A personal home page, on the other hand, could put a link to a newsgroup on side effects and a link to the pharmaceutical company right next to each other.

A corporate web site has to stay true to the company image, including brand names, products and logos.

A personal site is free of this restriction. All your work - your graphics, your html layout, your content - is completely determined by you. You can even feel free to offend people if you want, something a corporation would not be able to do.

A company is trying to appeal to a broad group of people,a and they are looking to reach certain demographics.

A personal page can be very specific. It can feature one topic, or even one aspect of one topic. You don't need need to draw a lot of people. You just need to draw the right people.

Everyone assumes that web sites rely on a big budget, but it really relies on the skills of the creator. A corporate web site uses a professional and corporate image, but a personal site can be quirky and unique.

So yes, there are two sides to the information highway. And yes they are becoming further apart. But just because you don't have a lot of money, or a lot of toys to play with, doesn't mean you're on the wrong side of the road.

Craig Colby
Producer @discovery.ca
ccolby@discovery.ca


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