originally published as
Ciolek, T.M. 1995. Beyond the Cool Site. LAN Magazine, May 1995, pp.128.
Dr T.Matthew Ciolek
[Est. 8 March 1995. Last updated: 11 Mar 2000. This facility is
provided by www.ciolek.com.]
The purpose of these notes, written in March 1995 (and checked for integrity of reported hypertext links
many times since then), is to
provide advice on how to turn your normal WWW-based information
system into the world's most obvious roaring disaster. Please mail tmciolek at ciolek.com
if you know of other efficient ways to establish and operate a truly
memorable networked flop.
TOP 10 WAYS TO MAKE A WWW FLOP
In January 1995 there were 4.8 million hosts carrying over 2 mln WWW
documents (see the Lycos crawler
database details). Assuming that an average WWW-based information
system publishes some 50 Web documents (eg. 5 projects with 10
documents each), it can be estimated that in January 1995 there were
some 40,000 Web sites. Two years later, in February 1997, there were an
2,190,000 Web sites on the Internet.
Services provided by these sites seem to belong to one of the three
Hot sites - services that everybody wants to see
Cool sites - services that everybody talks about
Normal sites - services whose existence is taken for granted
Very few of the Web sites, if any, describe themselves as normal or
ordinary ones. It is apparent that the overwhelming
majority of Web sites eagerly strives for the status of the
'hottest' and/or the 'coolest' Web-system known to
To satisfy this passionate urge for the greatest possible
'coolness' and 'hotness' in a networked information
facility I am providing here a list of 10 simple techniques. They are
guaranteed to transform even the most unassuming, down-to-earth and
normal information system into the most frequently discussed,
commented and looked-at Web facility in Australia or perhaps (with a
bit of luck, for the competition is really stiff) - on the entire
Be assertive & gutsy
Always set up a separate Web server for whatever
project is at hand (when travelling from A to B,
buying a whole bus is more exciting than buying a bus ticket).
Do not take advantage of somebody else's server and expertise.
Be yourself & always re-invent the wheel
Never mirror pages compiled
by other more experienced sites, always create your own ultimate index to web
resources of interest to your clients
Never specialise in anything, be a true polymath, do not get tangled
in messy and unpleasant details. It is far quicker and more
satisfying to compile 5-10 links to the entire scholarly discipline (eg.
social sciences), than try to locate and evaluate 5-10 useful links to any of the
specialised sub-disciplines (eg. cultural anthropology, family and youth
studies, economics of networks, etc.)
Declare your site to be the beginner's ultimate starting point for exploration of
Never publish your own data, however good and ample they might be
Do not ever make a direct link to any useful material. Always aim
your links at a site which does not carry its own data but points instead at
someone else's materials
If your organization has no information to offer, load your server
with HTML'ed descriptions of things you were doing 10 years ago; you
hope to do in the future, as well as with details of your hardware,
software and your air-conditioning plant
Be generous & wholehearted
Make your site testify to the real scope of your education and interests
If your institution specialises in geology, make your server a prime
site for links to molecular biology materials. Astronomers,
in turn, should track resources for social workers and marriage counselors.
Provide (on company's time, of course) the Internet presence to
people and companies who know nothing about the network
Make your site to be another national depository of weather maps and cricket scores
Be startling & unforgettable
Use heaps of highly decorative graphics. In fact, a truly 'hot'
infosystem consists of a massive logo and very little else.
Always publish files with sound effects and
large animation files [at least 5Mb] (especially if you run a Web
server specialising in statistics and accounting)
Insist on acronyms and cute/corny names. If you
work for an engineering company in Melbourne, your server has
to be called 'Melbourne Engineering Information Technology Info
System' or MENINGITIS for short.
If you work for Fishing Supplies Pty., make sure that your domain name
is registered as 'bait', so that your email can be: webmaster at bait.com
Call upon your like-minded colleagues and proclaim your inalienable and constitutional
right and freedom to do with your web site as you please.
Be open-minded & flexible
Use creative typography and slavishly observe dictates of post-modernism
[This will encourage other Internauts to have their teeth fixed by
dentists with skills acquired from cool, postmodernist Web sites]
Set all your text in bold and oversized characters
Always use "frames". Of course, everybody knows that frames suck,
undermine the normal flow
hypertext navigation so lovely...
Assure that each document has a different appearance and logic
Never provide names/email addresses of people maintaining your documents
Never indicate when your documents were created and when they were last time updated.
This sort of information is absolutely spurious, since everybody knows that the Web-based
data are timeless
Never annotate any of the hypertext links. Who cares where do they lead to?
Never explicitly state the URL of your documents. Why people who print the pages out
should ever be able to find them again on the Net?
Do not implement any corporate style - let every
division, department, branch, section etc. speak on the Internet/Intranet
with its own voice and flair
Make your system stable
Never check or update any of your hypertext links.
Never remove dead links (who knows, they might come alive one day)
Once your system is established do not add pages with fresh
information or add new services
Do not advertise existence of your services (let people work a little
before they locate your site)
Do not register your system with any Network Information Service
Change your IP numbers as often as humanly possible
Alter URLs of your pages at least twice a week
and never provide any re-direction instructions
Encourage all your colleagues and employees to develop and
cultivate (on company's time, of course) personal pages describing
their hobbies, childhood experiences & favourite music
Publish a digitised photograph of everybody ever associated with your organization
Attach to each photograph a sound file, which says "HI!" or, better still
- as one of the readers of this page has suggested -
make sure your page contains a huge photo of your
company's CEO welcoming visitors with a audio version of his or
her last address to the stockholders
Give creation of these features the top priority
Maintain a distributed infosystem
Make no one particular responsible for the infosystem's purpose and architecture
Leave decisions about
databases' contents - to Unix programmers,
logo design and pages' layout - to the CEO
system's upgrades - to software suppliers
virtual domain names and backup arrangements - to the CEO's youngest
son, a lovely outgoing and talkative personality, who just came back
from a latest trip to Kashmir and Upper Volta
Make everybody responsible for system's maintenance and updates of all its component parts (documents, links, databases)
Make sure that your web site always has more 'chiefs' than 'indians'
In fact, a model networked flop always employs no more than one multi-purpose 'indian' who acts
author of the online information
web site's business manager
marketing & PR officer
legal & copyright expert
a typist, secretary & switch-board operator
and, in the spare time, an errand-boy/girl for the 'chiefs' who dreamt up the
newest e-publishing activity
So, while your latest online endeavour starts inexplicably failing
and disintegrating, when nothing works they way it should, and you
get hot flushes whenever people give your cool glances - it is clearly the time
planning for yet brand new seperately located web project.
Remember ? When travelling from A to B, acquiring a new bus is more
promising than acquiring a mere bus ticket, and constructing a
separate site is much more rewarding than integrating it with
the already existing ones.
For supplementary ideas on bringing your site to the everlasting notoriety
"Top Ten Ways to Make Your Gopher Server a
Flop", pp. 215, in: Liu, C. et al. 1994. Managing Internet
Information Services. Sebastopol, Ca.: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
and in the Paul
Phillips' collection of Useless
WWW Pages http://www.go2net.com/internet/useless/
If you are interested in a less cheeky advice, check-out