I guess the accompanying headline should run along the lines of: ‘If you think we’re screwed now…’

Or some kind of suggestion that the fun might only have just begun; that our friend – and some clearly still see it as our ‘enemy’ – The Internet is but a little baby to one, awesome kick-ass mother that lies just around the corner.

Bit like ‘Aliens’ I guess. That if the hapless Ripley had her hands full with one of them, just wait till you get to meet Mum… and, boy, is she mad. Only this time she’s buried not beneath some atmposphere recycling planet on Zeltron 2-Alpha or whatever it was, but underneath some charming Swiss valley.

What are we talking about? This that popped up in The Times today… Meet Mum, meet ‘The Grid’.


OK, so The Grid’s purpose is to dig out some elusive little proton; the one that gives matter mass… but does that even matter given the likely impact it is to have on the rest of us in the midst of its game of molecular hide-and-seek?

Download a whole movie in five seconds instead of three hours? Holographic formats? What, you mean that a web-casted council chamber could now appear in a holographic format on the palm of my hand?

Heh, that’s Star Wars; OK, so it’s South Norfolk District Council in five years time, but the image is of Star Wars… five-inch figures sat in the palm of my hand debating matters of planetry import. As it effects the Waveney Valley.

Five years? Who knows. CERN is, of course, the birthplace of the Internet. And like ‘The Grid’, both will filter their way out into the wider world via the academic institutions.

But the fact is that mother can now piggy-back off her little baby; here we are, after all, reading about ‘The Grid’ on the web; we’re not learning about the potential impact of the Internet in some dusty, academic tome as might have been the case some 20-odd years ago.

‘The Grid’ is just one push of a ‘red button’ away; it’s live, happening and coming to a lab near you.

Whether it comes to a mobile near your is the next question; at what cost and at what speed, the question after.

But look at the impact The Internet has already had on the way we do our newspaper business – or, rather, don’t do our newspaper business – and now envisage a delivery system that is ‘10,000 times faster than the average broadband connection…’

News of which is about to be delivered on a delivery system that, in itself, is what 10,000 times faster than the wood-staining system that delivered The Internet? Depends on how fast the little lad on his push-bike delivered the newspaper down your street, I guess.

Is there a lesson? Well, if even half of what they say about ‘The Grid’ is true then the likelihood of the newspaper surviving much beyond the next decade grows ever less likely; that my eight-year-old little man will, in every likelihood, look at The Internet and laugh at how slow and clunky it seemed…

‘I can’t believe you tried to run a business of that, Dad…’

‘And before that I used to work on a newspaper… imagine that…’

Scary, scary times. We can’t even find an answer to the problems that The Internet poses. And now, deep beneath some Swiss valley, out comes ‘The Grid’…

And this time she really means business.

I knew there was something else. Something else that had niggled away all day.



That’s brilliant. Top spot. Or if not spotted, then illustrated.

And while we’re handing out medals, I stumbled across it on Martin Stabe’s blog.

What the newspapers concerned do next will be fascinating to watch. Cos I’d show Google the door…

Don’t get me wrong, Google is the biggest and best taxi service in this web-world; they get me from A to B in an instant. But being an oh-so ‘umble news provider, I’ve never quite got the best out of the other string to their mighty bow, advertising. There again, I don’t have Ernst & Young advising me…

But as a taxi service, superb. They bring the punters straight to my door.

But go back to marvellous Martin, and let’s talk it through. I’m a Norwich fan; I’m not, be we digress…

I’m a Norwich fan; fancy seeing what’s in the Telegraph; so I hail my Google taxi, ‘To the ‘Telegraph’ pal…’ and they arrive at the front door…

Now at this point – if I were the Telegraph – I’d open the door, let the punter out and tip the driver before he left. And then it would be a case of walking with them into our newly-decorated hallway and asking them where they’d like to go next…

‘Sport, please…’

‘Of course, sir. Step this way….’ all in the hope that, en route, they’d notice the fact that we’d actually just had the hallway done; that something smelt nice in the kitchen.

Strikes me that our Google taxi driver is now through the hall and up the stairs before anyone has had time to notice.

Having arrived in the teenage kid’s bedroom that does for ‘Sport’, I can then rummage away through the drawer of dirty underpants until I get to the one with the Canary logo on the front. But if I was The Telegraph, The Guardian, etc… I’d want the taxi driver to be still stood on the front door-step waiting for my return and then to be told where to go next.

Because if I was those ever-so clever people from Google and I did that ‘Taxi for Telegraph Sport: Norwich City run…’ often enough, the next time I hailed a cab, they would have been able – through force of my habit – to predict exactly which smelly drawer I wanted to go to thereby missing out whatever was on the hall, on the stairway and in the bedroom altogether… and it would be their predictive advertising adorning the landing walls….

Now if all I was ever interested in was getting so many uniques into said bedroom drawer and wasn’t that bothered how, exactly, they got there and how many muddy feet were trampling over my newly-laid search carpet in the hall, then fine.

But if we think that the great circulation battles of the future are going to be for the global ABCe’s, what happens if – as an advertiser – I’m now faced with The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail all locked in and around the 15 million uniques per month mark?

Where’s my next measure?

I think – or rather, I hope – it’s time. That within those four walls of your digital home you provide enough ‘sticky’ content to keep the eyeballs lingering over what’s on the hall table, what’s left on the landing, etc, etc… for longer than any of your nearest and dearest rivals.

I’ve dealt in fag packet numbers for the last two years; I’m not about to change.

But, let’s just say, that to get to said dirty pants drawer it takes me four pages – on a first visit. Five seconds, in total. Provided, of course, that I haven’t stepped in anything ‘sticky’ en route.

And let’s say my 15 million month uniques on average visit twice a month.

That’s 30 million visits; average ‘journey’ time to what’s behind the fridge, in the bottom kitchen cabinet, behind the lamp in the lounge, etc, etc… is our 5 seconds. On average.

30 mill x 5 is 150 million seconds; that’s 2.5 million minutes; that’s… ooh… five years worth of eye-ball time a month I’m giving away cos I won’t ask the taxi driver to leave his passenger at the front door.