Since its inception, the Web has struggled to find a place in the hearts and minds of consumers. But after a couple false starts—and lingering resistance to the idea of Online Everything—the concept has gained considerable traction, and now it's difficult to imagine life without e-books and magazines, e-news, e-banking, e-music and video, and in fact almost anything that can be digitized and sent through the virtual pipelines of the Web.
Sadly, it's equally difficult to imagine our online world without all those in-your-face advertisements, scams, and offers for services that cost real money, but don't always solve real problems. The Web is an illustrious marketplace, and naturally some will use it to sell snake oil. Same as it ever was, virtual presence aside.
Still, I couldn't be more frustrated. I have an agenda, too, but it's benign, and altogether ordinary. My agenda is simply to provide a useful—and arguably necessary—service, without the chicanery and gouging that have now become all-too-common features of so many Web-based enterprises. I want to make a living, but not at any cost.
Nearly everyone who has ventured out onto the sticky strands of the Web has discovered its dark side. Some have been victimized by scams, disappointed by unkept—or underkept—promises, or maybe just appalled by the sheer volume of trash blowing about the virtual landscape. In that sense, the Web mirrors real life. Of course, both sides of the mirror also have a much brighter side, but a degree of cynicism is understandable.
Maybe even inescapable, although I'd like to believe that isn't the case. I'd like to believe that, just as in the more tangible world on which the Web is patterned, there remain pockets of resistance—resistance to crass commercialism, and the resulting perception that every new Web presence is out to make a quick buck, and nothing more. I'd like to believe that integrity can prosper, too.
So I'm going to conduct an experiment. My hypothesis is this: Integrity can prosper, and will, given the opportunity to express itself on its own terms, free of the unnatural constraints imposed by expectations of normalcy. The Web will serve as the test apparatus for this experiment. There will be no bell jars, and certainly no bell-shaped curves.