It's a Small World

I'm writing this from a hotel room at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Before you even start thinking "well, isn't she the lucky one", let me set the record straight. First, I should have said: I'm writing this from a hotel room at Disney World in an extremely hot and drippingly humid Orlando, Florida. (Think Darwin in December.) It's also my second trip to the US in less than three weeks and my body clock is no longer ticking, it's given up the ghost. And, I'm not going to get a chance to visit Mickey and Minnie in the Magic Kingdom because I have to get on a plane in another 36 hours to get back to Sydney.

Why am I here? I'm at Sybase's Tech Wave conference. My fellow attendees are, well shall we say, technically inclined. You'd think I'd be picking up all kinds of inside information and gossip, but thus far my eavesdropping has yielded conversations that go something like this:Attendee one: Hey, I see you're doing okay. You've scored a couple of bags of M&Ms, two Cokes, a bottle of Snapple (don't even ask) and three yoghurt bars.

Attendee two: Yeah, but last night I was starved after the dinner . . .

Attendee one: Even with all the food?

Attendee two: Yeah. I was starving. No way I was going to bed starving, so I had to raid the mini bar. Can you believe those prices? I think I paid five bucks for some Fig Newtons (trust me, you really don't want to ask). Do you think I can expense them?Attendee one: Jeez, I don't know.

Attendee two: Well, we're not getting much of a per diem. I mean, if I skip breakfast and lunch, dinner's still about $30 and we're only getting $40 a day.

They didn't say anything specifically about the mini bar. You know what though, if you cleaned it out it'd cost about $150. I'm going to expense the Fig Newtons.

Attendee one: Hey, it's your head.

As you can see, the focus of disgruntled users here is mostly food versus free food. But hey, there are advantages. This morning I got to read USA Today. For those of you who don't know this newspaper (and I use the term lightly), it's the equivalent of Cliff Notes in colour. Not much substance but the charts look good and where else are you going to find a front-page story on amusement park risks climbing (second only to Brad and Jennifer tying the knot). However, the Money section carried a story "Big fish gobble up Net dollars" which has a lot of relevance to Australia. Basically the gist is that while dotcoms were the first to embrace the Net, bricks and mortar companies are quickly - and quietly - stealing away the lead. Further these traditional companies in many industries dominate their online categories. Brand is king. Maybe it's a good thing that Australia skipped much of the dotcom hype - and crash and burn.

Almost to a person, the Australian CIOs and CEOs I speak to position the Net "as just another channel". Good old Aussie realism. They know that business is all about making profits.

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