Friday, December 14, 2007

My name is URL

I thought about calling this blog “Shootout at the E-comm Corral.”

E-comm is short for electronic commerce, which is business conducted over the Internet. We love jargon in this industry, so we often refer to it as e-commerce or e-comm. We might even shorten it to EC one day, but I can assure you it’s anything but EZ.

Enough with the one-liners, even if they are intentional. What was once “the wave of the future,” has become more like a Tsunami.

You’ve likely conducted electronic commerce, which is when you buy something on the Internet. Perhaps you were notified by e-mail from businesses you have bought from concerning a sale, or perhaps you followed a link suggested in an e-mail.

Imagine a shopping mall with millions of stores. Then imagine the many ways they would try to get your attention: huge billboards and signs, people handing out pamphlets, or even being lost and wandering into the wrong store, where they make it very difficult to leave. All of these methods have electronic equivalents that exist today.

E-commerce is a business full of terms like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) the process of improving the volume and the quality of traffic to a web site,  URL’s (Uniform Resource Locator) which specifies an actual web site address, keywords and new terms being developed every day.

We have a very talented team of professionals here at Video Professor who specializes in all of this. In fact, they’re pioneers of sorts, whose ancestors settled the West in the 1800s.

That’s where “Shoot-out at the E-comm Corral” comes in. Cities like Tombstone, Ariz. sprung up overnight. It was a wild and wooly place, until lawmen like Wyatt Earp brought in a little law and order. While the early Western towns were full of fine, law-abiding folks, there were also more than a few villains.

The Wild West relates to e-commerce due to issues like cyber squatters that buy up domain names of very familiar or popular brands, but with slight misspellings. We often type faster than our brains can keep up, or misspell the URL we’re looking for. Cyber squatters want you to end up at a web site much different than what you intended. It could be a pornographic web site or one that is simply designed to steal your identity. Some very important companies recognize how damaging this can be and are taking legal action. There aren’t many laws pertaining to this subject and lawmakers are finding it hard to keep up with the technology.

Another nasty bit of business going on the Internet these days are web sites designed to allow users to post blogs, or anything, for that matter, anonymously. Many allow people to make any claim they want and then sign their work with a false identity. Forget the facts, anyone can be falsely accused or slandered on these sites. There are sites that will charge money to clear your name and absolve you of wrongdoing. Whether you are part of a business or are a private individual, we’re all equal opportunity victims, so be careful.

You may have read about the 13-year-old girl who committed suicide as the result of false and hurtful postings made under a phony name. This is all protected by what some would consider free speech. I wonder how the parents of the young girl feel about this falling under First Amendment rights. These were not just innocent postings; they were malicious attacks made on a young girl, which inevitably lead to her taking her own life.

The great thing about the Internet is that everyone has access. The bad thing about the Internet is that everyone has access.

Again, technology is moving much faster than litigation and businesses, so government agencies are starting to take notice. Just like in the old West, people are calling for law and order. It is on the way, it is hard to say how long it will take, but it will be good for all of us.

This is obviously a hot-button topic. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Send an e-mail to and let me know how you feel.


John W. Scherer