Keys to the Internet, restaurant Web sites, more -- The Web Hostess

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Monica Hesse
Wednesday, July 28, 2010; 2:00 PM

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Monica Hesse: Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.Before we get started, I got a very nice call from a very nice man at Old Spice last week, who had read the chat transcript and wanted me to know that the statistics claiming that Old Spice sales were down were misleading. It was actually the sales for the Red Zone After Hours product that went down (that's what happens to be featured in the ads), but the other Old Spice brands are up. Just wanted to clarify.Onward, to the Internet!So, apparently, seven Internet keymasters from around the world have each been given keys to use to re-start the Internet in the case that it, um...breaks?http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/bristol/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8855000/8855460.stm As Gawker points out, this is exactly the type of thing that goes down when nerds run things. Everything becomes a World of Warcraft quest.But...who wouldyou put in charge of jumpstarting the Internet?

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corporate web presences: My daughter and I recently went on the McDonald's Web site to plan out one of her precious trips to "Old McDonald's."I was amazed that a company like McDonald's would have such a terrible Web presence: the site was little more than a store locator and a place to apply for a job; no menu, no list of Happy Meal toys, not much of anything.You'd think that a good Web site is a must for companies today, but evidently not. Or is there a VP at Mickey D's who is laughing at this question: "We print our own money with our food, so kiss our butts, Internet folk."?

Paul Williams: I'm still amazed at stores that don't let you order online.

Monica Hesse: Are you sure you weren't accidentally visiting a super secret fake McDonald's Web site? I just took a gander, and found the menu, the nutrition information, and a section called food "innovation" that I was afraid to click on.

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Marceaux for Governor : I'm not sure if you've seen the video of Basil Marceaux, the gentleman with the incredibly incoherent "vote for me for governor" speech on a local television station. I highly recommend watching it, AND visiting his website http://basilmarceax.com/Mr. Marceaux promises to end "the slavery" that occurs during traffic stops, offers immunity from state crimes to everyone who votes for him, and wishes to make reading the minutes of the US Congress mandatory for all high school students. His chief civil contribution (listed under "Thing I done for my Citizens") seems to be filing lawsuits about traffic stops. (He REALLY has an issue with traffic stops.) The site is a little hard to get through (it's one long page of disorganized text) but trust me, it's worth it.

Monica Hesse: That link that you just posted? If you scroll down far enough, you will see a notice saying, "This is NOT the official site for Basil Marceaux."So then you click on the new link provided...and it is JUST AS INCOHERENT AS THE FIRST.WHAT is going on here?

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email sign-offs: Do you think people who sign-off their emails with "Cheers" belong in the same circle of Hell as Americans who intentionally use Britishisms? What's wrong with just "Yours" or "sincerely"?

Monica Hesse: Ruth McCann, a Style intern here last year, did a whole investigative piece delving into the sign-offs people use, and why. If I'm remembering correctly, everyone found something different to be completely insufferable. Therefore, I think the only solution is for all of us to switch to either "Toodles" or "23-Skidoo," which are non-objectionable as of yet.

Paul Williams: Saying 'Goodbye' Is the Hardest Part of an E-mail

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Carol Burnett: When I saw this I fell off the chair laughing:To wiggle out of the What, body? - Carol Burnett There is another one I saw, but now I can't find it. It was a skit where the camera operators were on strike and the temp crew kept getting odd angles and close ups. She had this look on her face like "what more can go wrong", then more would go wrong.

Monica Hesse: Is there anything she does that isn't genius? My favorite sketch involved a dentist. That's all I remember.

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Comic Con: You need to post the ComicCon vs Westboro Baptist Crazies. One of the best counter protests ever.

Monica Hesse: "Kill All Humans." Aaahahahaha.We've discussed Sam Waterston's Robot insurance, right?

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Who should be in charge of the Internet?: Libraries

Monica Hesse: So the key would be nestled in between the R and S volumes of the World Book encyclo --Nope, sorry. Magical as libraries are, I think we're looking for living, breathing humans for this task.

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End of Chats?: Why has the Post been getting rid of so many chats and replacing them with video chats? Is yours next?

Paul Williams: We've been cutting some text chats that weren't drawing enough readers. Some we'll be replacing with other text chats and some we won't. But we aren't ending all the text chats, and we actually aren't in the business of canceling things that are really popular.We haven't replaced any chats with video chats and we didn't cancel any chats because of video chats. Right now we're mainly using them as a supplement -- like in the case of Chris Cillizza's Friday video before his text chat and Michelle Singletary's video after her chat.We're also trying to use them in ways that text chats won't work, either because there might not be enough interest to sustain a text chat for an hour or we don't have the availability of the host for very long (and a 10 minute text chat isn't very satisfying.) Or because video makes more sense, like our iPhone 4 demo. So it's not a case of "video over text" as much as it is "video over nothing."

Monica Hesse: In short, if you want Paul and I to stay around (or just Paul, but you're willing to put up with me), click early and often, submit regularly and ridiculously. We run on the absurdity you provide.

Paul Williams: And spread the word. Tell your friends, Twitter/Facebook us, etc.

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What's wrong with just "Yours" or "sincerely"? : "Yours?" Are you serious? I'm NOT yours, so I'm not going to use that one. And why "sincerely?" Do I have to remind you I'm not lying to you?I don't even use a signoff anymore. Just a dash and then my name.

Monica Hesse: See?

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Cheers: "Do you think people who sign-off their emails with "Cheers" belong in the same circle of Hell as Americans who intentionally use Britishisms?"You are banning people to hell who sign off with cheers? Wow. You sound like a fun person to hang around. Regards, Someone who has better things to worry about.

Paul Williams: Blimey!

Monica Hesse: Brilliant!

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Magical as libraries are, I think we're looking for living, breathing humans for this task.: Librarians are living, breathing people. How about the Librarian of Congress?

Monica Hesse: Ooh, I like that! I would absolutely trust James Billington with the keys to the Web.

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RE: Restaurant Websites: Since the topic of nutrition information on restaurant websites was brought up... While not technically a restaurant, Sheetz gas stations and convenience stores, prolific in western Pennsylvania where I went to college, have a corporate Web site that lets you customize the Made-To-Order sandwiches down to the same level of detail you can at the in-store kiosks.Then, they give you the nutritional information... I was a bit shocked to see that the delicious sausage, egg, and cheese croissant with mayo and butter, which I regularly ate two of as a late night snack after partying, was about 700 calories each.

Monica Hesse: haven't read Hank Stuever's wonderful rumination on that important debate, "Sheetz vs. WaWa," you should do that today.The correct answer, however, is WaWa.

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Who should be in charge of the Internet? : There will be several keyholders who must get together to activate the entire key. Each one only has a part of the puzzle. Sort of like the Wonder Twins, but more than just 2 people. I think we should represent a wide range of folks.I vote for a millionaire, his wife, a professor, a starlet, one regular chic, a skipper and his mate. In the event of a worldwide crisis, we can send them all to a deserted island with their keys, where they re-activate the Internet in a secret underground cave.

Paul Williams: I think I understand the "Lost" finale now.

Monica Hesse: The starlet was Locke, right?

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Signing off: Is there a better closing to an email than "Bite my shiny metal a--"?

Monica Hesse: Oddly, it works even better if you're -not- a robot.

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But...who would you put in charge of jumpstarting the Internet?: Cupcake, I think YOU should be a key holder. I mean, who else will make sure we get our youtube funny videos up and running again quickly. In the event of a disaster we're going to need some humor around day 3.

Monica Hesse: Duh, in this scenario Paul and I already have keys. Super giant skeleton keys that open all of the pieces of the Internet. These other seven are just in case we're off watching Hulu or something and can't be bothered.

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Sign off: TTFN- tata for now or AMF - adios my friend. And Al Gore should have the keys to his Internet of course.

Monica Hesse: Al Gore invented the keys to the Internet.

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email sign offs: I sign all my work emails -- hugs and kisses.

Monica Hesse: And your profession is what, exactly?

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Web Hostess - The Movie: Having just seen CHLOE last night, I think Amanda Seyfried should play you in the movie. Second choice is Orlando Bloom in drag, but we do NOT want to go there.

Monica Hesse: Or DO we?

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Monica Hesse: P.S.Chloe? One of those movies I never would have known existed without Netflix. And frankly, probably didn't need to know existed. The Watch Instantly options have made me watch, unbelievably, even crappier television than I did before.

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Trying out a new site: Say someone you know sends you a link for a new time-waster/social media Web site and you visit the site. How much time do you give that site to hook you in? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?

Monica Hesse: depends on what the site is designed to do. If someone argued that they'd given Facebook five minutes and they just didn't like it, I think we'd agree that they hadn't invested enough time to know for sure.Five is a good baseline for something very, very basic. but even then, a distinct quality of a good time-waster site is how it is able to wash over you and suck you in *even while you think it's stupid.* You might need more than 5 minutes just to reach that point of brain numbness.

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Who should be in charge of the Internet? : Right now I'm thinking it should be the people who designed the Sheetz website. That much attention to detail for a gas station convenience store is promising.

Monica Hesse: Hahaha!

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E-mail Signoff abbreviations: Ooh, I like that. I'm going to start using GSTQ. God Save the Queen.

Monica Hesse: This is the best idea I have heard in weeks. I hereby present you with a key to the Internet.

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Internet keymasters: If the Internet keymasters all have to meet at a place in the US, but are scattered around the world, how long will it take to restart the Internet?And if the Internet is down, how will they get the email telling them it is time to go, book their airline flights, and Google directions? It is great to know how safe the key is, but maybe that makes it harder to use in an emergency...

Paul Williams: Maybe the key gives them access to ... the SECOND Internet.

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How much time do you give that site to hook you in? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?: Honestly, I give up after 1 minute. I am looking for a time waster, but if I have to work hard to be entranced by it, forget it. I'm like that with books too, but I'll give them a chapter. Once I gave up after 3 pages. Went back to the book years later and loved it. I don't regret not getting into it the first time I tried, since it just wasn't right for me then. I got into it again because it was the only book in my house I hadn't read. I don't think I'll ever be able say there's only website left, so I doubt I'd retry an Internet time waster a second time.

Monica Hesse: It's an interesting question -- shouldone requirement of a good time waster be that it immediately sucks you in? Or, if you've got time to waste anyway, then do you also have time to get invested in something?Actually, it's not -that- interesting of a question. But I'm going to pay attention to my freebie Internet usage and see how much time I'll devote to nonsense before giving up on it.

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McDonlads On-Line Ordering?: "Paul Williams writes: I'm still amazed at stores that don't let you order online."Because you just can't afford the three minutes it takes to order and receive your food at the restaurant? On net, you'll break even, because it would take at least that long to submit your order. Plus, your hamburger, fries, etc. would sit under a heat lamp that much longer.

Paul Williams: No no, I meant like, "H&M."

Monica Hesse: You order clothes online, Paul? Such a guy thing.

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Maybe the key gives them access to ... the SECOND Internet.: So when GW Bush said "Internets" during one of the Presidential debates, he actually KNEW something. I thought he was just an idiot.

Monica Hesse: His Second Life avatar also had a membership to Third Life. Just FYI.

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Who plays Producer Paul?: Since you're the only one who knows what he looks like, who plays P-squared in the movie?

Paul Williams: CGI all the way.

Monica Hesse: There is a distinct possibility that P-squared exists only in my brain. It's all very Beautiful Mind.

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It's an interesting question -- should one requirement of a good time waster be that it immediately sucks you in?: When I'm trying to waste time there's usually something else I SHOULD be doing. So I'm looking for something that is so engrossing I can justify not doing this other thing.

Monica Hesse: True. The Time Waster must be a higher calling, to the point that *not* wasting time on it just seems absurd.

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If the Internet keymasters all have to meet at a place in the US, but are scattered around the world, how long will it take to restart the Internet?: Now that is a smart question, and I have one too. They say the keymasters will be secreted away in a secure location in the event of a world crisis. But if the crisis is worldwide and is really a crisis, that may not be possible. We may lose the Internet. Unless they are going to whisk these people off every time Al-Qaida releases a new tape.

Monica Hesse: Oh, they were already all whisked away, like, months ago. Replaced by the computer surrogates from that Bruce Willis movie, which is also available on Watch Instantly, and is also terrible.

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Sheetz: I stopped for gas at Sheetz. I don't normally stop there, but I was running low and they were the first station I passed. I didn't enjoy having to wait for a free pump, and then when I tried to get a receipt, it wasn't working at the pump. I went inside and the lady asked me how much I spent. She wrote the amount I said on a piece of paper and handed it to me. I said, I wanted a real receipt with gallons, price, etc.... She said she could print one, but it would take 30 minutes. How can their locations be so poorly equiped, but have a good website? I will continue to avoid Sheetz in the future.

Monica Hesse: I'm still stuck on the fact that you keep your gas receipts.

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Having business websites: I think that every business needs a website, but since the Internet is global, how does a business keep its website local? When it comes to a service provider like a dentist, there is no need to reach potential customers hundreds or thousands of miles away. Just about all of the older/traditional ways of advertising were local.

Monica Hesse: This is an interesting point -- I nearly drove to a business the other day before realizing it was in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Minneapolis and not DC. Some localization happens with IP address targeting, but it's not perfect.

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007 Keys: What happens when the latest Bond villain kidnaps all the keyholders?

Monica Hesse: omg, is THIS what Anna Chapman's mission was all about?

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The starlet was Locke, right?: Gilligan's Island. You got that, right?

Monica Hesse: We were taking your Gilligan's Island joke and extending it to a Lost joke. You got that, right?

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I pretty much only buy clothes online: Of course, I'm nine feet tall and 400 pounds, so I have a few trusted sources where the fit is accurate.By the way, gas receipts are an essential part of any good expense report and/or tax return if you're self-employed.

Monica Hesse: 1) Are you a Na'vi?2) Good point.

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Not a Na'vi: Just a big pink bald chick magnet, thank you.

Monica Hesse: Rock ON!

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How does a business keep its website local? : That's the point of (effective) SEO. You only want to pay for those clicks that will bring you business, so you make sure to only show up on local results. Or vice versa, if you're not local.

Monica Hesse: Just posting, as we're running out of time.

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online manners problem: I, for one, didn't take the "ban to a circle of hell" comment all that seriously. The person who jumped on it as proof that chatter wasn't fun misses sarcasm, which is nearly impossible to get through written words alone. That is one major communication problem that the internets miss, unless of course, you are on video chat.

Monica Hesse: Oh, who takes anything we do here all that seriously.That's all for now -- see you next week, same time and place!Until then, GSTQ.


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