Walter Gross is Chief Executive Officer of The Technomax Group, an on-line company focused on helping small business owners integrate their corporate identity with the Internet and the World Wide Web. But you may know Wally better as the creator and guardian of the prestigious and world-renowned Surfers Choice Internet Awards, a long-standing and top-rated bastion of the search for web excellence. From his offices in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada Wally oversees a number of successful internet properties including Technomax. If you don't mind hearing from a 53 year old guy that still leaves warm milk and oatmeal cookies for Santa, please stick around. This interview was conducted in early March 2000.
This is your friendly interviewer, Jeff Clark, as he appeared in 1999. Time changes things.
[Wally Gross] Without any doubt newsletters and opt-in mail are the single most effective means of marketing. Both are e-mail related and that is the Web's most used service. Spamming is not an option, unless of course you want to shut down your on-line presence in one foul swipe. It is unfortunate that spammers are still allowed to operate on the Web. Honest folks are suffering for it, since people eventually will simply turn away all e-mail; even permission granted. It is paramount that they are stopped, so permission marketing and opt-in services are allowed to flourish.
Doesn't it just drive you to the point of insanity when you are e-mailed crap that says, "this is not spam, you are on our opt-in list?" Yup, sure loser, I want to receive your garbage about buying a totally illegal decoder or a University degree. Give me a break! Isn't there an isolated island somewhere, or maybe a planet, where we can send these low-lifes? Of course as we send them off, we'll let them know that they signed up voluntarily for this holiday in hell and that the leathery-winged demons aren't real.
As far as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol — the Web on your cellular phone or Palm Pilot) is concerned, I only wish I was its inventor. I think it's a boon to us all. It is always normal to fear change, but this is just another piece in the puzzle that makes up the Web and it's evolution. Developers cringed when WebTV first appeared. Now they throw another curve ball at you fine people. I can't say anything about its implementation, for I have little information. However, I am sure that the W3 will work closely with those providing the technology to establish some form of standard protocol that is the best for everyone.
It's just another tool in the box, yet another way to provide ease to our business lives, or even personal lives. But that's all it is. No technology out there can play a game of golf with you and tell stories over a beer later; or lean on your shoulder when your friendship is needed. It's just another tool in the box, that's all, nothing more.
[Internet Brothers] What is your take on Internet privacy issues?
[WG] A few years back when I saw one of the head honchos from a well known site admit they sell e-mail addresses, I almost crawled into the TV set to wring out his greedy little neck. Few things upset me, but avarice really pisses me off, and why shouldn't it. The Internet has been a powerful teacher and eye-opener for me. I can spot a phony in an instant. There are some great stories here, but for now I'll save them for another event.
I don't believe a person's privacy should ever be compromised. But then again who am I anyway? It seems that in spite of my vehement protests, there is a segment of our population that simply must know. The "Inquiring Minds" syndrome. Some people simply get off on hearing this stuff, even if it is all lies, and just can't manage to get through a day without their Whisper 2000. When web sites participate in this type of less than salubrious activity, it is truly a sad situation. It isn't possible to surf the Web without cookies; they are necessary for some essential activities. All we can do is hope that responsibility is the norm and anything less is an aberration.
I'm not paranoid about my privacy, but I am with respect to another form of invasion — viruses. I have been victimized a few times and find this activity most disturbing. A firewall and virus software are installed on all my computers.
Spam is the most annoying form of compromising privacy I can imagine. I spend hours and hours each week deleting unwanted crap from my mail box and setting up filters. This activity should be outlawed, I mean that. There are those who would consider this opinion some kind of a compromise of our rights to freedom. However, last time I looked, home invasions were against the law; I hope next time I look, spammers will get equal treatment, for what they do is just another form of home invasion. Perhaps less threatening and dangerous, but nonetheless an invasion.
[IB] Wally, is that you who's been instigating the Distributed Denial of Service attacks against the largest corporate and government web sites recently?
[WG] What? And lose my dental plan and pension benefits. Not on your life.
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