According to the man called Kaiser, "Mainstream is the wave of the future."
No, Kaiser doesn't have a crystal ball, but he does have NetSurprise (www.netsurprise.com), a webmaster's resource with its pointer on one of the more rapid pulses of the Net.
When Cybererotica bought the NetSurprise domain in 1999 it was, according to its president, "... basically set up as a webmaster's resource research engine." A nice service, but not very diverse. Today the site is a portal to industry news, access to free web space and e-mail providers, an Internet guide, and links to a variety of sites with information about technology and programs of interest to webmasters. It's also recently expanded its offerings to include more interactive features such as chat, message boards, and educational workshops.
"Our objective was to create a webmasters' community that allowed the advertisers as well as the webmasters to participate in a variety of sponsorships [as well as] content providers and anybody providing goods or services to the adult Internet. Basically, we want to provide them with a community atmosphere where we can help them grow and bring them the proper tools."
Although the site will eventually offer similar services to mainstream webmasters as well - the adult Net got there first. According to Kaiser, getting there first is one of the things folks in the adult industry are good at doing. "Certainly the adult Internet took off extremely well," he says. "Sex sells. That's what got VCRs in everyone's living room. Once you could get your porno tape at the local store, everyone had to have a VCR. There have been a lot of technological advances that have occurred because of the adult Internet, too: faster connection speed, video streaming... A lot of that has been driven by the adult industry and people wanting to get their porn faster and see movies online."
And now Internet companies aren't simply trying to sell their wares; many of the larger ones, including those in the mainstream, are becoming political. Kaiser finds himself in the proverbial catbird's seat, perfectly positioned to watch the adult Net's battles for Web access and its maturation into an industry with truly professional standards. "The success of adult media in other venues is part of the reason that you have the modem companies and software companies fighting for freedom of speech on the Internet and are actually against censorship," he believes. "It's because they do realize that it's been a strong driving force."
Being an effective and successful part of that "driving force" requires Web-minded adult site owners to stay on top of the latest techniques, technologies, trends and etiquette. One of the goals of NetSurprise is to help website owners and developers increase their business savvy. Kaiser points out that the large sponsorship companies that affiliate with NetSurprise and seek relationships with adult sites are interested in an environment where ethics are important and business is conducted properly. To help develop these ethics and business practices, the site offers message areas where users can make friends, talk about tips or tricks of the trade, or ask specific questions in the hopes of finding other users with specific answers. Fundamental lessons in business conduct begin with the boards themselves.
"Our code of conduct on that board is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion," says Kaiser. "You're entitled to disagree with whomever you like, and that includes the big companies, as long as it's done in an appropriate manner. Something that would be considered appropriate in a meeting or in an office." Kaiser continues with a list of message-board/board room No-No's, including flaming (whether it's the other user or their mother), inappropriate argumentation, and insults. "There are places where that sort of behavior is tolerated or encouraged, but we don't consider that to be proper behavior to have good business dialogue going on," he explains. Fortunately, most users are already familiar with good behavior and so problems are few.
As Kaiser points out, one of the most important things a webmaster can do is one of the things a webmaster is least likely to have time to do: network with other people who understand their business.
Whatever differences may or may not exist between the adult and non-adult industries, people working in both like to see a financial reward for their work. "We're constantly refining our education process with online tutorials and training workshops targeted towards both newbies to Web design [and] the old hands at it. Something as simple as how to put HTML on a page, to more advanced search-engine topics."
It's all part of NetSurprise's goal of making adult webmasters increasingly self-sufficient and successful. Whether it's learning hot Java tips, how to make more compelling sites or finding ways to market them, Kaiser says that education is truly one of the keys. "It really follows the old adage: give someone a fish and they eat for a day. Teach someone to fish and they can eat for the rest of their life. That also includes teaching ethics and business protocol, how to communicate with people in an effective manner, how to build relationships, and how to improve what it is you do."
And then what? What does the future hold for those webmasters and site owners who learn these skills? With surfers demanding more and more entertainment, higher bandwidth, mega-channels and increasingly user-friendly interactive sites, the possibilities seem endless. Kaiser's forward sight tells him that this means good things. "They can move forward. Not only in this industry, but in others."
Nostradamus never said anything so hopeful. But then again, he never had a chance to build and maintain his own website.