ROAD KILL

Published on .

Bits and bytes from the new-media front.

IBM 'nets Lotus. Just seconds after Dow Jones and Reuters reported official bulletins on IBM's June 5 bid for Lotus, Big Blue zapped a detailed missive onto its home page (http://www.ibm.com). In what appears to be the most proactive use of the Internet in a takeover battle, boss Louis Gerstner offered a press release, his letter to Lotus chief Jim Manzi and a memo to employees. By the next morning, IBM added a transcript of Gerstner's press conference, including pictures of the CEO. Lotus (http://www.lotus.com) countered with a National Enquirer-style headline ("The latest on IBM & Lotus") over an abbreviated press release. Of course (caution: advertisement follows), you know this if you checked into Ad Age's home page last week (http://www.adage.com), which offered a convenient direct click to Big B'Lou's site.

Have they lost their minds? Not too many ad agencies boast of "corrupting healthy minds," but those are the first words that greet visitors to the home page of Kings-wood Advertising (http://www.kings-wood.com). You won't easily find advertising philosophy here, but you will find an online humor magazine, the Kings-wood Kranium. Within are sections called "Optic Nerve," "Gray Matter" and "Synapses," the last proudly containing "unreliable and irrelevant observations." If you insist on information about the agency-and there are warnings to keep you away-it's here, but no less comical. A profile of Richard L. Moore, president-CEO of the $40 million, Ardmore, Pa.-based shop, notes that while he is in charge of "day-to-day activities .... a guy named Lenny, who none of us have ever met, is reputed to be the night-time CEO." This site goes a long way toward puncturing the stuffy self-importance that afflicts so many other agency areas.

Sit-down comics. Perhaps to keep subscribers from crying over online bills, CompuServe and Comedy Central are setting up what they say is the first cyberspace comedy club this summer. There'll be interviews with comedians, video clips of comedy acts and local entertainment info. But in a move sure to elicit more groans than chuckles, users will be encouraged to post their own jokes, so long as they're "cheap-but-not-tawdry" (CompuServe's words, not ours).

A cell site. As if the idea of Prison Life, the magazine, didn't raise enough comic possibilities, now comes Prison Life, the site on the World Wide Web. Found at http://www.neosoft.com/plmag/, the site features articles on John Gotti's lawyer, Bruce Cutler, and brutality in Texas prisons, an adults only pen-pal program and an advice column, "Ask Bubba." Our question is, how many prisoners have Web access? And, given the opportunity to roam the globe via modem, how much time will they want to spend reading about life in the pokey?

Roadkill is online at http://www.adage.com/IMM/roadkill.html. E-mail Scott Donaton, executive editor/interactive and new media, at sdonaton@adage.com. E-mail Interactive Media & Marketing Managing Editor Debra Aho Williamson at imm@adage.com.

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