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Why Esther Dyson Rules the Cyberdomain; How to Create Your Own Web Site; Web Riot Lets You Prove You're Smarter Than TV Game Show Contestants

Aired May 27, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Today on CNNdotCOM...

PERRI PELTZ, CO-HOST: When this woman talks, the most influential people in the world listen.


ESTHER DYSON, EDVENTURE HOLDINGS: I can also make my points fairly blunt...


PELTZ: When it comes to the cyberdomain, why Esther Dyson rules.

And be the master of your own domain by creating your own Web site.


JAMES HATTORI, CO-HOST: So you don't have to be an expert in programming to put an -- a simple Web page up.


PELTZ: How to make your own Web page even if you don't know what HTML means.

Plus, prove you're smarter than those TV game show contestants.


AHMET ZAPPA, HOST, WEBRIOT: This is the world's first interactive online television game.


PELTZ: Tune in and log on to compete for real prizes from your home computer.

That and more ahead on CNNdotCOM.

ANNOUNCER: CNNdotCOM, with Perri Peltz and James Hattori. PELTZ: Welcome to CNNdotCOM. I'm Perri Peltz.

You may have never heard of Esther Dyson, but you can bet most execs have. She's on nearly every list of the most powerful people of the Internet. A one-time journalist and former Wall Street analyst, Dyson now heads up her own venture capital fund. She also chairs a global group entrusted with a heavy responsibility, doling out domain names.

And that's just part of what Esther Dyson does.

For more on why she is so influential, let's go to New York and Esther Dyson on the run.


(voice-over): Keeping up with Esther Dyson is not an easy task.

DAPHNE KIS, PRESIDENT, EDVENTURE HOLDINGS: Ninety to 95 percent of the time, she's out of this office and lost (ph).

This month is probably a typical month. She got on a plane to Moscow from Amsterdam for a board meeting, to Madrid to meet some people, back to Amsterdam, to Stockholm, to New York, down to Washington, back to New York, back down to Washington, to San Francisco, from San Francisco to Stockholm. She has millions of frequent flyer miles.

PELTZ: When you're one of the most powerful people in the wired world, there are many places to go, many people to see.

MICHAEL SIMON, FOUNDER, UPROAR, INC.: When I met Esther Dyson, I was working in Budapest, Hungary, and I rented an apartment with six other engineers.

PELTZ: Dyson's advice helped transform Michael Simon's $40,000 startup into a major Internet company.

SIMON: Today Uproar is traded on NASDAQ and is roughly a $300 million company. She's a very well-connected, very active, very tied- in person.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, MEDIA THEORY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: She was one of the very first investment strategists who saw that the Internet was going to be a big deal.

DYSON: I'm a venture capitalist, but I'm not a typical VC. I don't have a fund. I don't like managing other people's money.

PELTZ: Her conferences, columns, books, investments, and opinions are followed by political and business leaders around the world.

(on camera): You've been called a lot of things, cyberguru, technowhiz, prophetess, queen of the digerati. Do any of those titles ring true to you? DYSON: Not really. But you just -- it comes with the territory. You know, it -- in the end, you think of yourself as me, and it's not really a title at all.

PELTZ (voice-over): Dyson spends much of her time looking for new tech companies as investments.

DYSON: Let me just tell them I'm here, and then let's go in and have a drink.

PELTZ: She met with these creators of a new e-mail software.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So these are some of the differences.

PELTZ: A green light from Dyson means instant credibility and bankability for their idea.

DYSON: You know, in theory, they could be one thing, or you could (inaudible)...

PELTZ: Even though these kinds of startups have taken a fall in the stock market, she's still optimistic about commerce on the Internet.

DYSON: E-commerce is fine. But people got way too excited about it. The new economy is real, but not everybody's fantasies and euphoria about it was real.

PELTZ: Dyson says she, like everyone, has had real losses in the stock market. She won't say how much, but she's still worth tens of millions of dollars. As Dyson puts it, she has more money than she has time to spend.

(on camera): They say time is money. Does money drive you?

DYSON: No, but time does.

PELTZ: So you got half of the equation.

DYSON: Since some time ago, I've had more money than I could spend. But I've had less time than I need. And so I'm much chintzier about my time.

PELTZ (voice-over): But even with all her wealth...

DYSON: I think it's the main entrance. Yes, over there.

PELTZ: ... Dyson admits she's still chintzy about some of the little things.

DYSON: Like taking taxis.

Eight dollars?

But when I invest in a business, I sort of have a different currency that is denominated with several more zeros after it. PELTZ: Back on the road with Dyson, this time not visiting prospective new-tech startups.

DYSON: We're going to the east visitors' entrance of the White House.

PELTZ: She and other new-tech leaders have been summoned to advise the president.

DYSON: Well, going to Washington is incredibly routine. Going to the White House is still special.

The state dining room? Here? Great, thank you.

I'm on your next panel.


KIS: I mean, one of the things about Esther is that she's very candid in some way.

DYSON: How can we get out of here in time...

KIS: It's part of her charm. She's not polished in that sense, and her reactions are unpredictable.

CLINTON: I'm going to call on Esther Dyson first, because she has to catch a plane.

PELTZ: But Dyson is not afraid to let the president know she already missed it.

CLINTON: But you can go first anyway. So there.

PELTZ: She's got a schedule to keep.

DYSON: And what that means is that I can also make my points fairly blunt, which is what I'd like to do.

PELTZ (on camera): Esther, do you have a mission?

DYSON: Well, two. One is to never get bored, and the other is to save the world. And both of them are...

PELTZ: Besides that?

DYSON: The first thing you learn is, you're not going to save the world single-handed. But maybe you can find little bits of it where you can go make a difference.

PELTZ (voice-over): One area where Dyson is trying to make a difference is as the head of ICANN. That's short for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a newly created global agency that assigns domain names. DYSON: I like doing ICANN, trying to deal with all these political things and talk about how the Internet's infrastructure should be organized, and should there be new domain names.

PELTZ: How does she keep on top of so many issues?

KIS: Esther swims every day of her life.

PELTZ: One hour, nonstop, every day.

KIS: It's also a time when she thinks. I'll send Esther a list of things that we need to discuss, and her reply is, "I'll think about it in the pool tomorrow." So some of her big ideas happen as she's swimming.

PELTZ: And many of those ideas concern the impact of the Internet on our future.

DYSON: What the Internet does is, it gives more power to individuals, and it sort of sucks it away from big institutions and from powerful structures.

PELTZ: Where do you see us in 10 years? How will our lives be different?

DYSON: The one fundamental change, if you like, is, we have this virtual world where all these people are connected. I think it's going to make people's lives a little happier. It's not going to solve world poverty in a generation or eradicate disease, but it may help just a little bit.

PELTZ: When it comes to the dot.coms, how do you think we're going to be doing that kind of business in, say, 10 years?

DYSON: You're not going to be in business without a Web site. You're not going to be in business without communicating with your customers over the Internet. But it's just going to be one more tool.

PELTZ (voice-over): Ironically, there's one tool this plugged-in Internet prophet prefers to leave unplugged, at home.

(on camera): You're the technoguru, and you don't have a telephone at home. Is that right?

DYSON: Yes. I don't want a phone at home. And the point of the technology is to do what the person wants it to do. And if the person wants it, great. And if the person doesn't want it, that's their choice.

KIS: Esther likes to think globally and think in large ways. She's not very interested in the details.

PELTZ (voice-over): One other detail Dyson's not interested in is the state of her office.

KIS: A lot of her life is in that office, a lot of history is in that office. that's part of what makes it hard to go through and hard to clean out. That's where she works and where she lives.

DYSON: Bye-bye.

PELTZ: When she's not on the road.

DYSON: If there's one message, aside from, The Internet is where it's at, the second message is, the Internet is all over the world.

PELTZ: And so is Esther Dyson.


PELTZ: Dyson's book is entitled "Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age." She also writes a column called "Release 3.0" for the "New York Times Syndicate. And net-worthy execs wouldn't dare miss her invitation-only conference, PC Forum, even at the hefty registration fee of $4,500.

We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Get behind the wheel at the Indy 500, an interactive, online experience that puts you right in the driver's seat.

All that and more when CNNdotCOM continues.


ANNOUNCER: From the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, here's James Hattori.

HATTORI: It's the beginning of the end, maybe, in the landmark Microsoft antitrust trial. Both sides were back in court this week before a federal judge, who will determine if Microsoft's transgressions warrant a breakup of the company.

That story tops this week's NewsFiles.


(voice-over): Enough is enough: Judge to Microsoft, No more time. During a court hearing Wednesday, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson abruptly stopped the proceedings and signaled he's ready to accept a breakup of the company. On Friday, the government complied with his order to submit a revised proposal to break Microsoft into two separate companies.

Jackson gave the software giant 48 hours to respond. He could issue Microsoft's penalty for violating antitrust law shortly after that. When Microsoft lawyers asked for more time, the judge snapped, "This case has been pending for two years now," not to mention an appeal, which could drag on even longer.

Internet 500: Broadband service provider Excite@Home is offering an inside track on the 84th running of the Indianapolis 500. You can get all the thrills of behind the wheel without the risks. The action starts even before the green flag drops. Click onto for a look at the race car sponsored by the company, including a behind-the-scenes tour by driver Eddie Cheever Jr.

On race day, Internet fans can get a bird's-eye view of the car in real time, even a view of all the gauges the Indy champ sees on his dashboard. But you can't walk away with the trophy.

Flying for Dollars: Tired of all those late or canceled flights? Well, now you can turn that air rage into cash. (ph) is offering customers refunds when their flights are late or canceled on five major carriers, American, Continental, U.S. Airways, British Airways, and Air France. The tickets have to be booked through the site. A half-hour delay pays $100, an hour or more, $200, cancellation, full refund.

How can they do it? The hopes it will entice customers to book online, not just browse. For once, your time is money.

Mickey Mouse Decision: Turns out the Disney Company's investment in may not have been so smart. The corporate giant pulled the plug on the online toy retailer. The Mouse has a majority stake in Toysmart to the tune of at least $45 million. And this is not child's play. Toysmart got beat up by some pretty tough competition, including eToys and

Guess Disney decided to take its toys and go home.

And that's this week's NewsFiles.


ANNOUNCER: Up next, NerdWord -- "big-endian." OK, kemo sabe, know what it means? The answer when we come back.


PELTZ: Now, IDG's NerdWord. Think big for today's lesson in technotalk, big-endian. No, it's not the Lone Ranger's pet name for Tonto. And no, it's not the politically correct term for people who are pushing a big caboose.

Big-endian is the order in computer memory in which the most significant value in a sequence of bytes, the big end, is stored first. It's the opposite of little-endian, an order in which the least significant value in the sequence, or the little end, is stored first.

The terms come from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels," in which the Big-endians were a political faction that broke their eggs at the large end. They rebelled against the Lilliputian king, who required his subjects, the Little-endians, to break their eggs at the small end.

Now it's time for us to take a break.


PELTZ: So you surf the Web, and it seems as if everyone and his brother or sister has their own Web page. And you wonder, Why don't I have one? How can I create my own Web site?

Well, having your own home page is easier than you think. With the help of Bud Smith, author of "Designing Web Pages for Dummies," James has some tools to help you get started.


BUD SMITH, "DESIGNING WEB PAGES FOR DUMMIES": A Web page is just a page of text with a few hidden codes in it that make some characters bold and some larger, and that lets you point off (ph) to put a picture in the Web page. And it was actually putting a picture in the Web page that was the thing that made the World Wide Web take off.

HATTORI: So you don't have to be an expert in programming to put an -- a simple Web page up.

SMITH: There's millions of people who have put their home pages up, and very few of them are expert computer programmers.

HATTORI: So if you wanted to start a Web page of your own, where's a good place to start?

SMITH: America Online probably goes the farthest in making things easy for you. Now, the tradeoff is that it's simple, but my Web page will look like a lot of other people's. So here's the Home Pages link on the AOL front page.

You start with the Build a Page area, and then you sign in or register.

HATTORI: So this is the tradeoff. They give you a free Web page, you got to give them a little information about you.

SMITH: That's right.

You have a set of tools that actually help you build the Web page, a little bit at a time. Let's create a background for the page. Let's pick a light green.

HATTORI: So instead of writing code, you're just picking a color here, and they're -- it's writing the code for you.

SMITH: Exactly. I pick a picture for the top of my page. In this case, I just have six choices. And then I enter a title for the page. Let's just call this Bud's Book.

So these are the titles for different areas, and they're going to format them in different ways.

HATTORI: This is a little template they've come up with, and you fill in the kind of information that you want to give out to the world.

SMITH: Right. Now, see, these are all things that, if you're doing the Web page yourself, you're eventually going to want to change and customize. There are actually only 10 commands that you really need to learn to put up a Web page. The most popular of those are bold, italic, a couple of different headers, and then the image tag is actually how you put a picture or a graphic into your Web page.

HATTORI: If I want a Web page, I have to find someplace for it to sit, on a host.

SMITH: Exactly. A host is where your Web page lives. It's a computer that your Web page actually sits on the hard disk of.

HATTORI: Anybody who has Internet service has a provider, pretty much, right?


HATTORI: Like Earthlink or MSN, all those kinds of companies.

SMITH: Exactly.

HATTORI: And will they host for you?

SMITH: Yes, and there's a whole range of different services that are available, depending on your provider. The smaller ISPs tend to just give you the space. The larger ones, AOL, CompuServe, do preloaded setups for you so that you can more easily get your first Web page up.

HATTORI: Hit Preview My Page.

SMITH: Yes. And this is actually writing the HTML for you.


SMITH: HTML stands for hypertext markup language, and that's the actual language that you use to create your Web page. It allows you to control what's on your page and to do fancier pages.

HATTORI: So when you build a page with one of the Web sites that does it for you, you don't have much control over it?

SMITH: The easier the tool is to use, the less control you have over the result.


SMITH: And there is my...

HATTORI: Congratulations, you've got a home page.

SMITH: It's a great way to start. I didn't have to learn any HTML or do anything tricky.


ANNOUNCER: For more information on how to create your own Web page, log onto

Up next on THE DOT, MTV meets Regis and the Internet.


KIM ZETTER, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PC WORLD": This is definitely eye candy for the attention deficit crowd.


ANNOUNCER: A music trivia game show that lets you compete on your PC.


PELTZ: Have you ever watched one of those game shows flooding the air waves and thought, Who couldn't be a millionaire? Well, now's your chance to prove it. Web Riot is a Web site that puts you in the hot seat at home.

Here's "Nothin' but Net."


(voice-over): Get ready for Web Riot. Tune in, log onto, and play games. It's more than just a music trivia game show. It's the convergence of television and the Internet, and an attempt to redefine multimedia entertainment for the MTV generation.

ZAPPA: This is the world's first interactive online television game. Our studio contestants are putting their video knowledge to the test. And you too can play along form your own computer.

PELTZ: Instead of just shouting out answers at your TV, log onto webRIOT at, and actually compete against four television contestants and more than 20,000 Web heads in real time for real prizes.

ZAPPA: Yes, this is the future, a future where rock and roll is the new religion, and the masses gather daily.

BRIAN GRADEN, PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMMING, MTV: If you're a game show watcher and you're just watching in your living room, and you think that you're much smarter than those contestants on television, all you can do is kind of scream about it and tell your friends you'd win the $25,000 if you could only get on "Jeopardy."

We wanted to appeal to all of those frustrated would-be winners. Now they can actually play against the players there, plus against 25,000 of their peers, and if they win, they'll know that they got a better score than the people on the television, and they'll also see their scores back on television.

PELTZ: MTV teamed up with Spiderdance Inc. to create the technology that synchs live Internet shows to TV broadcasts. There's no special hardware required, and downloading the game is simple. All you need to play is a PC and a TV in the same room. The online game is synchronized to the TV show, allowing at-home users to answer questions along with the in-studio players.

At the end of each game, the names of the highest-scoring cyberplayers appear on TV. Online, you'll find the Hall of Fame of high scorers. You can ask the host, Ahmet Zappa, questions, and chat with fellow online contestants between rounds. And each show features an online player of the day whose face is splashed across the television screen.

ZETTER: This is definitely eye candy for the attention deficit crowd. The -- it's the MTV audience, and the kinds of questions that they're asking are very kind of rap-heavy, hiphop-heavy, you know, the rounds of MTV videos. It's the whole idea of offering a community for MTV viewers, and they can feel like they're a part of what's happening on the screen.

PELTZ: Still want to yell at the TV? Well, go ahead. But to fulfill your fantasy of playing along and actually win prizes, log onto for a truly interactive oriented game show experience.]

And that's this week's "Nothin' but Net."


PELTZ: And here's a parting gift. You can get even more tech news by logging onto You can also e-mail us at

For now, dot's all, folks. Thanks for watching. For all of us here at THE DOT, I'm Perri Peltz. We hope to see you again next week.



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