TECHNOLOGY MINUTE…Classifieds ads have been around for long. From paper to the digital world â€“ manâ€™s interest in classified ads never falters or fades. One of the most popular activity done on a Sunday is to browse through the classified section of your local newspaper. Many folks do it â€“ without ever having the intention to buy â€“ browsing, it seems is in one genes! Classified ads have grown too. From the simplistic collective ads of the past, now there seems to a wide horizontal array of topics and subject matter covered in the classified section of any newspaper. Classifieds have gone digital too. A good measure of any digital economy is to see how many Internet users are actively engaged in the reading and utilization of online classified ads. The more complex version of these ads take the shape and from of Auctions â€“ the simplistic ones still rule however. The best known classifieds on the Internet is perhaps the Craigâ€™s List (www.craigslist.com). Started by Craig Newmark in 1995 to let people know what was happening in and around the San Francisco Bay area, it went from Usenet to a mailing server and now to its own series of websites, so successful is Craigâ€™s List that Internet Auctioneer giant eBay invested in Craigâ€™s List. The design still hasnâ€™t changed. Hardly â€œanyâ€ graphics, the site loads extremely fast and has a wide array of headings under which anyone can post. What has happened to Craigâ€™s List (CL) is that it has gone global â€“ in a big way. Not only does it covers the ads from San Francisco, but now Internet users from over 180 cities around the world post their ads on Craigâ€™s List. Even Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are amongst the cities covered by CL. But no city from Pakistan. I wonder why? Internet usage in Pakistan for some reason does not steer in a massive way towards e-commerce. This is a million dollar question by itself â€“ why donâ€™t the Internet users in Pakistan make rapid advancements towards the use and utilization of classified ads? The answer â€“ no one knows for sure. Its something that is puzzling many would-be entrepreneurs. DAWN.com recently started its classified ads called www.dawnclassified.com with some limited success. Its so much easier for users to be able to plug into the world of online classified advertisements, but yet somehow we donâ€™t? It seems the prospects of the digital economy in Pakistan arenâ€™t too bright, or perhaps a better way to put it â€“ its not in pace with the rapid advancement elsewhere. The prepaid and physical (be it credit or debit) cards phenomena has stunned growth of other areas. I personally think that if Craigâ€™s List can be implemented for Karachi â€“ slowly but surely it will grow and catch-up on all of us. If I want to sell something, I should have the ability to put it on the web (for free of course), where others may also be able to browse. Likewise, I need to have the flexible freedom to see ads from other people. One of the reasons www.dawnclassifieds.com will perhaps not be able to match the success of Craigâ€™s List is that Dawn is a paid-for service, whilst Craigâ€™s List is free. For Internet users on a tight budget, how many of them would be able to afford a Rs. 800 advertisement with very limited real-estate space on Dawn or would they rather opt for a free listing in Craigâ€™s List where you can place as much as you want, as many ads as you see a need for, have the ability to include pictures and file attachments, etc all for free! On the top of my head I can think of areas in dire need for a proper classified system, starting out with real-estate, automobiles, and perhaps the most important one of all is the â€œthings to sellâ€, people have so much stuff they are looking to get rid off and likewise so many people would like to buy things off other people, but the proper medium is only restricted to classifieds like those offered by our local daily newspapers. If an online classified system were put in place â€“ it would do all of us a collective good. Needless to say if a Craigâ€™s List type classified is started in Pakistan, people will find very few ads to start out with, some might even be hesitant to put their telephone numbers on line, spammers will try to harvest email addresses (but there is a nice anti-spam feature built in Craigâ€™s List), and inevitably there will be the abuse and nonsense factor, but with time, I think we should see a minimal effect of that. Its time users of the Internet in Pakistan can plug into a successful classified model â€“ and I think a good start would be with Craigâ€™s List. Lets just hope they do venture in this part of the world.
Every now and then I am on the look out for a good website. Do you remember the websites of the past (not so many years ago), when personal homepages consisted of links to your favorite artistâ€™s website, links to cool things you like (perhaps a link to Mercedes Benz) or Yahoo!, a little shrine on the web for your sweetheart, or Remember the prehistoric days of the Web, when a personal home page consisted of some kid’s Knight Rider pictures, a tribute to Aerosmith, and a shrine to some Hollywood actresses that you think might marry you one dayâ€¦ all embalmed in one. Not to mention the spinning visitor count and all those annoying blinks and flashy icons. But here is a website (http://rtm86.com) which really is something very different and cool, itâ€™s a virtual trip of one smart teenagerâ€™s creative side. Taking simple photographs and lots of use of objects and the felt-tip marker, this website is a nice touch for the sore eyes. Do visit it, for I am sure you will enjoy it, and if you have some time, send him an email appreciating his efforts. Another nice website I came across if a Flash based time clock, this can be seen at: http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf – and last but not the least, if you are feeling bored today, throw some paper in the basket. Never feel bored again â€“ visit http://www.widro.com/throwpaper.html
This Article was originally written for Money Magazine