This Week’s Agenda: Patriotic Duty

You’re excused if you thought last week’s article was pretty insensitive.

It was written around September 7. My wife was due to fly me away to Martha’s Vineyard on deadline day. I planned to spend the days before that at the NetWorld show in Atlanta.

So I was dressing for work on September 11 when CNBC televised the planes hitting the Towers. We went through that day in a daze. Many big vendors left the show by Wednesday, chartering buses for Seattle or Utah.

The shock lasted all week, and as I write this it’s still on many faces. But in the last few days some of what we used to call “news” has drifted in:

  • A new version of IBM’s WebSphere e-commerce software is aimed at business-to-business (B2B) transactions, with features such as real-time collaboration and business relationship management as well as security and access controls.
  • The Pixie Awards for online movies were scheduled to be handed out Saturday, September 22, at the Hollywood Roosevelt.
  • Internet World will go on, but December 10-13, not October 1-5. It’s still at the Javits Center in New York, however.
  • WhiteCross Systems will analyze and personalize content on the Telegraph.
  • Ya.com, the Spanish portal of Deutsche Telekom, is using CheckM8 to deliver new rich media ad formats.

All these stories indicate that the online world is returning, if not to normal, then at least to life. While it does, we continue to mourn the losses at eSpeed, an online marketplace, and TradeSpark, its joint venture with Cantor Fitzgerald, all of which were near the top of the Towers. About two-thirds of Cantor’s roughly 1,000 employees are listed as missing as I write this.

But we’ve got to get this economy going again. It’s not going to happen face to face. It’s got to happen online.

We spent years building this infrastructure for ourselves. The time has come to prove its value in saving money and doing business. We are all enlisted for the duration. The hijackers were aiming straight at us, at the small, small world the Internet has made.

You can fight back best by getting back to work, whether your job is in software, operations, or even sales. It will take money to fight this war, and that money must be earned.

Many wondered, through the 1990s, what cause we were about. We seemed consumed only with ourselves, our wealth, our options, and our initial public offerings (IPOs). Now we have a cause. We are the home front and the front line.

So keep those press releases coming (and if you need a writer, give me a call). Increase the bandwidth, make the deals, prove the technology works. Do it for the victims, to defy the hijackers, to make the future a wonderful adventure rather than a walk in hell.

Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech somehow seems appropriate, albeit in paraphrase: I do not expect the world to dissolve. But I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

Editor’s note: For more on the impact of the September 11 attack, check the special section of internet.com’s E-Commerce/Marketing Channel, The Trade Center Disaster: Industry Response.

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