Parasites on the Web: The Jupiter Media Menace

Hundreds of companies have failed after spending millions developing fancy online "features" that nobody needs or wants. This web page contextualizes a critical analysis of a press release from a research company that supported this kind of excessive spending. [Update: see the sidebar.]

Don't trust everything you read online. 

Parasites from Jupiter have been plotting to do away with functional, fast-loading, content-rich web sites, and mutate them into slow, bloated abominations laden with thick encrustations of Java applets, Flash animation, chat windows and (no doubt) blinking text, streaming media, and dancing logos.

The Internet is, for the time being at least, dominated by words. Web design is an important and useful profession; nevertheless, those web professionals who feel threatened by simplicity, and who therefore advocate funky high-tech doo-dads (popup windows, dancing paperclips, etc.) in order to protect their cash cow, make the web more aggravating than it has to be.

Jupiter Media Metrix does not actually sell the needlessly complex design services that they have advocated in the past; still, it appears to me that Jupiter feeds upon the living body of the Internet.  Just as design gone amok sucks time from end-users who must sit and wait for swollen pages to download, useless and unsupported advice sucks energy and salaries from the designers, artists, and marketers who could be working for the common good of Humanity rather than simply puffing the bank accounts and egos of wanna-be web tycoons, like Jupiter Communication's notorious founder, Josh Harris.

In September of 2000, Jupiter Communications (now part of Jupiter Media Metrix) issued a press release which urges online retailers to ignore the vast majority of web users (who do not have cutting-edge computer equipment), and instead focus on the needs of the high-tech minority. Since so many in that high-tech minority have recently found themselves unemployed as a result of the dot-com meltdown, such a focus seems rather silly; indeed, few companies who have tried it have lasted for very long.

Since the document being examined is a marketing press release, it is excused from being balanced and objective; it simply wouldn't be a good press release unless it attempted to present Jupiter Communications as an important, useful, viable business; nevertheless, a quick analysis of the Jupiter Communications press release (focusing on the grammar and syntax of selected passages) will help us to determine just what it is that the authors are really trying to accomplish.

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