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Money for Access--and Your Ziff's Not Free

Today's subject of meditation: tech-pub monlith Ziff-Davis, which has set up a PR face-time event they call the the Ziff-Davis Walkthrough.

Much as the Buddha might ruminate on the illusory nature of reality, today I hope to shed light on the slippery here-and-now of the Web--where clever ideas pose as businesses, sulky slackers are actually CEOs, and that curvy Classics major from Denver you've been e-wooing turns out to be a balding TV repairman from Akron.

Today's subject of meditation: tech-pub monlith Ziff-Davis, which has set up a PR face-time event they call the the Ziff-Davis Walkthrough. The promo copy rises to Fujian heights, stating that this experience represents "PR for the Next 100 years." This long-term view is, perhaps, to be expected: After all, back in Japan, Ziff-owner, empire-builder, and all-around MS-Dostradamus Masayoshi Son, is weaving 500-year strategies for his digital colossus, Softbank.

But this Walkthrough thing: Qu'est-ce que c'est? Gather your chi and visualize this: You, PR flack and well-coiffed go-getter, are dying to make goo-goo eyes with the mighty Ziff editorial cadre. You plunk down $295 to show up at a pseudoposh hotel in downtown San Francisco, where top editors from ZD jewels such as PC Magazine, MacWeek, and Yahoo Internet Life will sit at tables with eight to ten attendees like your bad self. Once editorially ensconced, you can feel free to question, hobnob with, and pass the butter to any and all Ziff people--presumably garnering coverage for your particular windmill tilt in magazine, online, or even TV form.

Now that's where my Karma runs over their dogma: my first reaction was that paying for access to Ziff editors was like that whole "give a bundle, get a hug from the Prez" gig going on down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But upon reflection, I realized that jealousy corrupts the soul and to get rich is glorious. So in the grand Microsoft tradition of Embrace and Extend, I am now developing a venture called the C/NOTE Waltzabout, wherein you pony up $29.95 for a behind-the-scenes tour of the CNET offices plus a latte-crawl among San Francisco's plentiful North Beach cafes. If successful, I might even offer the C/NOTE Wokabout: a CNET tour plus dinner for seven at the House of Hunan, home of the plastic red Chinese chili pepper.

Now let's turn our gaze to an organization so mysterious that it might not even exist: the Internet Email Marketing Council, a group that was born full-blown from the head of "Spamford" Wallace and his fellow spammers to placate the FTC and the Net community about the spam scourge sweeping the digital nation.

It all sounds very noble--but here's where the Jedi mind-trick comes in. It turns out the Internic has put the group's domain name,, on hold. C'mon Spamford, cough up the C-note. Or the moment, no one can send them global spam-remove email, nor can complaints be lobbed in their direction. They are electronically incognito. I say, that spam stuff must be brain food, after all. Clearly we see appearances are not always to be believed in cyberspace. But you must take the leap of faith because--as Fox Mulder might say: "The Rumors Are Out There." Send me some.