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Randy's Corner

About North Georgia's publisher Randy Golden contributes a look into life in north Georgia, the Web, or anything that's on his mind.

Hello, friends
When Nielsen Media Research Inc and NetRatings Inc. released the Holiday E-Commerce Index on Monday, November 13, 2000 the report was fairly dismal. Last year's online holiday rush had failed to materialize and they laid it at the feet of the failed "dot coms" including Furniture.com, MotherNature.com and our personal favorite, Pets.com. We don't argue that the failing dot coms have played a part in the consumer's unwillingness to buy. After all, would you really want to buy from a web site that is going to be out-of-business next week?

But that's not the only reason people aren't running to the Internet to spend money. This past August I decided it was getting to be about time to retire my 1984 Chevrolet Caprice. I'm going to hate parting with that car. It has been a part of me for most of my adult life. Recently, though, the trips to the mechanic have become an all to often occurrence, and I just don't have the time to put into the car. I just wish I had sold it back in August because since that time my retirement savings has taken a core dump and spending time is starting to look better than spending money.

Then there is this year's presidential fiasco. Two candidates who aren't really that different have succeeded in driving a wedge between the American people that will take time to heal. Its the middle of November and it looks like it will be the middle of December (December 18th to be exact) when we will know who the winner will be.

Now on the horizon, and not a distant horizon, is the possibility of two consecutive quarters of negative growth [that, after all, is the definition of recession]. It is a sign that the system is correcting the excesses of the last four years. Only the growth of technology buoyed our economy to the point that few of us could tell of the rough times ahead.
As the dot com "Failure of the day" is announced, I have at least one friend, business contact or partner who calls and says, "I just read on Yahoo 'The job cuts at ridiculouslylongnamestupidbusinessconcept.com and the revelation it is in talks with strategic partners come as many Internet ventures struggle to find a way to make money by putting words, pictures, and sounds on the Web.' Are you (we) in trouble?

I calmly tell them no. Listen to what you just said, "I just read on Yahoo..." You're still using the World Wide Web, your kids are still using the Web, and my 72 year-old mother-in-law still uses it (at the local public library, of course). We may have a couple of months or even half-a-year of declining revenues, but About North Georgia is prepared for that. Any sane businessman is.

We created this business on some guts, a lot of hard work and a line of credit that never hit $4000.00. Even with the explosion of the Internet we did not overextend and as a result About North Georgia is well situated to last the upcoming storm. When the economic problems of our country are past you may well read about the "dot com disaster" and how the failure of these companies is a failure of technology. Don't believe it. The failure of these companies is the failure of the technologists not the technology. Very few are actually businessmen.

Then there are those who want to blame the downturn of the stock markets on the presidential election. The downturn in stock market can be traced back to March 10, 2000, when a casual remark by our soon-to-be former president Bill Clinton sent biotech shares reeling. Neither they nor the rest of the market has recovered.

And while the recent market downtown cannot be blamed on the failure of technology, the presidential fiasco can be. In Florida, the race is so close that the results are not outside the margin of error for the technology being used in the state to count votes. The technology in question was developed in the 1890's.

So as the dot com failures increase, let's take time to remember that we have only witnessed the start of impact of the Internet on our daily lives. I think it still has plenty of room to grow, and the growth will be tremendous. One of the first places we might want to consider is replacement of current election technology.

Randy Golden, Publisher

Randy's Corner
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