What’s Wrong With The Internet?

Sure…we love the Internet. We make our living helping people get the most out of it to help build their customer base and reinforce their brand. But let’s face it…sometimes the Internet just SUCKS.

First and foremost, it’s becoming more and more difficult to actually find any content of value…for free. I tried to lookup somebody’s snail mail address the other day, and FORGET IT! Every option turned out to be a come-on for a one-time or monthly fee in order to get the information. What happened to the phone book??? It used to be on the Internet along with some for-pay options, but lately all you seem to find is the pay me now sites.

On top of that, for many searches these days Google has become nothing but a collection of dead ends. I guess they were so busy indexing every single page on the Internet that they forgot about checking them frequently to make sure they were still active pages. And you can often forget about relevency, since many of the pages returned these days are nothing more than “landing” pages that include links to other “landing” pages, with no real content on any of them. These pages exist for the sole purpose of trying to attract your clicks so they can collect money from Google and the other search companies.

Even long time stalwarts of dependability are falling victim to “progress.” Yesterday I tried to generate directions for a trip I was planning. I went to my trusty friend MapQuest because they have long offered a great “send to cell” service. But this time that wonderful service seemed to be down and out. The “send to cell” link was gone, and in its place was a generic “send” option. There WAS a “cell” option, but instead of sending my directions it sent me an advertising link to some crappy game site. I was astonished!

So I decided to give the fairly new Microsoft product Bing a run for it’s money. I thought that surely the ol’ Redmond dinosaur would have a “send to cell” option on the product they’ve spent so much money and time developing and promoting. And so they did! Unfortunately, although the Bing system SAID it had sent a text message to my phone, nothing ever arrived. Hopefully Microsoft will fix this small “bug” and their intention of providing this valuable service will come to pass. But alas, that thought was of no use for this trip!

After doing a Google search for “send directions to cell phone” I found a site call TripIt which looked promising. It SAID it offered this service, but after playing around with their offering for over 15 minutes I still could not figure out how to accomplish said task, assuming it’s really even possible at all and not just another advertising come-on.

So once again, it all comes down to content and usability, two areas that seem to be falling behind the ongoing effort to turn the Internet into the next source of excessive advertising, confusion and hyperbole. Yahoo’s original idea of having a DIRECTORY that was assembled and supervised by REAL PEOPLE (as opposed to a search engine that is supervised by a computer) is turning out to be a pretty smart idea after all. The more that companies look to the Internet solely as another source of revenue and overlook the concepts of content and usability, the more valuable a directory that returns only valid results will become.

Now if we could only get websites to simplify their offerings on sites that ARE valuable so you could easily find what you’re looking for…but that’s a whole other story!

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