published November 2001|
Zsolt Kerekes (then)
It's only when you need to find something that you
realise it's lost.
If you're a
PR person who
often amazes your boss by the way in which you extract valuable data for the
company in-house magazine, or investor reports, taken from piles of old
magazines or brochures, here's a reason for you to worry.
on the web is transient.
That wonderful article which said nice things
about your company on a leading portal last week has disappeared. (So has the
portal...) But there's worse still to come.
Can you remember what your
home page looked like back in 1996?
Maybe you think that's not
important right now. Like global warming, you know there could be some problems
accumulating somewhere because of all this web stuff, but it's only when your
house gets flooded, you really start to believe in it.
your home page circa 1996... If you really did need to reproduce it for
publicity purposes, maybe to commemorate your company's 10th anniversiversary as
a dotcom (sometime in 2006) you would find the task nearly impossible for 2
- first, because chances are that no-one has got a copy of those original
files anymore, and
Looking to the future
problems of recreating today's home page in 5 years time, the technical problems
will be so enormous that you'd better forget it.
- second, even if they did have a copy, then it will still be difficult to
recreate a faithful facsimile, because a whole lot of technical things have
changed since then, including.... monitor sizes back then were only 640 pixels,
so the screen will look different, oh yes, and can you still lay your hands on a
1996 version of Netscape? IE was only a gleam in Bill Gate's eyes back then. By
the way can you remember the default fonts and sizes? Because that was what
determined your page look and feel, before "designers" started using
fancy fonts and graphics a few years later.
Having the source
code for your home page won't be enough, because chances are that it uses other
technologies, and fires up all kinds of external code to run banners, extract
images and text from an online database.
So the only way you're going
to solve that problem is to do a screen grab of your home page, and save it as a
JPEG image. JPEG, originally created for photographs, and used as the output
format of all digital cameras is a sufficiently durable standard, so that no
matter what the web browser actually does in 2006, you'll still be able to
publish a picture which looks like your home page today.
a lot simpler than messing about with the other options.
But you're a
busy person and probably won't even be working in your present company in 5
years' time, so why should you care?
Here's another reason.
You've got a marketing program in your company to recruit another 100 resellers.
As part of the lead generation efforts, your advertising manager last month ran
5 million impressions of various banner ads on a bunch of leading portals.
are you going to prove it?
Apart from showing prospective VARs copies
of the invoices for the ads... "We spent XXX thousand dollars on XX leading
portals"... that's going to create a big yawn. But it was an
expensive campaign, and you might have to wait another 3 months before you do
something on a similar scale again.
In a traditional print ad
campaign, or mailshot, you'd keep sample copies of the magazine or mailer to
send out with your VAR information or the digital equivalent in Powerpoint. Your
electronic ad campaign ended last week, and it would be nice to have visuals. On
a couple of days some of those portals were even running news items about your
company... and when your banner appeared on the same page, it was VERY
If you didn't make screen dumps at the time, then sure,
your graphics department can mock up those web sites, but they won't be
convincing. The home page on a good portal changes every day, sometimes many
times a day. All the other information will look wrong. The VARs will know that
it's a fix, and your credibility will be low.
So here's what you
need to do. Once or twice a month do a screen grab and JPEG conversion of
your company's own home page, and whenever your advertising department runs an
ad, ask them to make a copy of your ad running on the targeted portal. Then,
next time you want to include some of these collaterals in a future article or
partner presentation your life will be a lot easier. You should also include
screen grabs of the datasheets for your most significant products, because most
products nowadays don't have any paper collaterals. So, if in 10 years time a
publisher wants to run an article on the history of similar products, then
they'll have to give yours a miss (even if it was the
first, or the
fastest, or the one which changed everything that followed.)
to confess that in my own case, it's easy to find an image of our publication
way back in 1992, because it was hard copy and we can photograph any of the bits
we like the look of.
But I'd like to think that my own home page
looked better in real life in 1996 than it does now on the internet archive.
1996 version of my home page as rendered in the wayback machine.
do you think?
I consider myself lucky that there's any such record at
all and that I didn't stop robots accessing the contents.
You have been