Dreaming of a Global eChristmas
by Clay Butler

The rise of the Internet culture has profoundly shaped the way we view ourselves and the world. Many of the old school businessmen and women seem lost in this dynamic new environment. Yet, out of the chaos is emerging a new breed of businessperson that ignores the rules of the past in their quest marketplace maximization. Pctyrant takes a look at this dynamic new paradigm as it intersects with one of our oldest cultural events...Christmas. Who are the winners and who are the losers? Perhaps it's too early to tell but the companies and products we've seen all point to a brave new eWorld...or is that iWorld?

Many companies are struggling to adapt to the ecommerce revolution and some seem to be leading it. America Online has gotten into Christmas spirit by bundling the new AOL Instant Messanger (version 4.25) with their proprietary eSanta. With this software America Online users will be able to log in to their friends and family's eSanta accounts and deposit presents into their virtual stocking. Upon Christmas morning when people go to log into their accounts they will be greeted by the message "you've got presents" or for the unfortunate few "you've got coal" and with a simple click of the stocking icon will be able to view its contents. Of course not all presents will be allowed in the eSanta program as AOL has installed a phrase filter to block any unwanted sexual or pornographic gifts. Insiders suggest using euphemisms or creative misspellings such as "buff plug", "dill dough" and "cook ring" to sneak past the filter for those "naughty" gifts.

Not to be out done by anyone, Microsoft Network has launched a new venture called iMASS. According to the senior director of operations, iMASS is the first serious attempt to connect the Catholic community through a virtual spiritual space. Initially installed in 100 churches in 28 states for a December 25th launch, the church's are wired with durable motion cameras and on-site streaming capabilities, thus enabling people to receive their communion in real-time in the privacy of their own home. When it's time for the ritual cannibalism of Christ's body, the priest places the iWAFER into the eTONGUE of the iHEAD in which two stereoscopic cameras have been installed to simulate the positioning of the users eyes. The end user experiences a real-time 3-D communion as if they were there.

" We tested the beta version in October and the results were startling... I felt guilty just watching it... and I'm not even Catholic!" said senior programmer Susan Schlemiel.

The projects operating expenses will be derived from a combination of church licensing fees, end user software purchases and the placement of discrete banner ads on the viewer's proprietary iMASS browser window. "Our projections show the project breaking even in 2003 and turning a profit by 2005. Although, if Christ were to return to Earth before 2005 we could expect a sizable return much sooner as Microsoft would be in a unique position to capitalize on this event. It could even surpass the launch of Windows 98'...REALLY, the numbers are just staggering!"

Janet Kaiser of the Beyond Presents Project has created a bulletin board and virtual memorial for all the children who have died on Christmas morning due to war, disease or defective toys. "Parents will be able to log onto the site, set up an account, and design their own memorial with uploaded images and text. If they don't have any images or have difficulty expressing themselves they can chose from our selection of tasteful clip art and royalty free poems. In addition, for a small donation, every parent will be sent one of our Red Bows of Remembrance to wear and show support for other parents who have lost children on Christmas morning." When asked about the obvious resemblances to the Red AIDS Ribbon Campaign Janice responded "as far as I'm concerned the Beyond Presents Project is the ONLY support group with a historical precedent to justify the use of a red ribbon in their awareness campaigns... I mean, what does a red ribbon have to do with AIDS anyways... nothing as far as I can tell. At the very least they should just go use another color or use some sort of tiny skeleton or something."

But not everyone is singing the praise of a virtual world. Jeff Williams a self-described neotraditionalist had this to say. "Children today are growing up in a virtue world that is farther removed from physical reality than any other generation in human history .It is with this in mind that the neotraditionalist are sounding the alarm, a wake-up call per se. Now don't get me wrong...we're not trying to turn back the clock to the 1800s.. we just want to recapture that pre-cyber time of say, 23 years ago when we were children. We would go down to the mall and sit on Santa's lap, eat candy and run around Sears fantasizing about all the presents we would get. Sure, it was a manufactured experience... but it was an AUTHENTIC manufactured experience, unlike the modern VIRTUAL experience, which has no tangible elements.. I'm not saying that the contrived experiences of my childhood were perfect...just that they're profoundly superior to the contrived VIRTUAL experience of today's kids. As a society…we should be ashamed!"

Not content to let Jesus Christ live in the past, Jonathan Wayne; a Heald College graduate and entrepreneur, has launched his new eChrist "moralware". Available in both Windows and Mac platforms, eChrist is actually a bundle of several different individual programs designed for and by Christians. The most interesting of the programs is the"Sword of God" e-mail filter. Running in the background of Outlook or Eudora, the Sword of God flags e-mails that contain obvious human secularist phrases such as "human rights", "evolution", "science" and "logic" and marks them for eternal damnation ( recycle bin) with a fiery icon. Conversely e-mails that contain Christian phrases such as "burn in hell", "sinner" "suffer a woman" and "love" are shown with a halo icon." For too long Christians have shied away from technological advances... which is totally missing the point" says Jonathan. "How else can we demonstrate the folly of our secularist worldly world if we don't use their tools. God created technology!...he created everything!.... it's just that the godless humanists have taken credit for everything because they're so blind and ignorant! They think that their fancy educations will save them but they're wrong! God doesn't even have a degree but he is lord of EVERYONE...so there you go!"

Although we seem to be swamped in eChristmas marketing this, the first year of the new millennium, it appears it's just the beginning. Already in the works is a b2b Christmas eCommerce portal called myieSanta.com.CEO Chad Westland had this to say "We wanted to go with eSanta or iSanta but those names had been taken and the owners weren't willing to negotiate for we felt was a fair price. Then we thought we'd go for mySanta.com but unfortunately we ran into the same situation. After much discussion with our backers we hired IPCapitalSolutions.com, a consulting firm, to work on our company branding strategies. After months of intense "Focus Group Deconstructionalization" and "Identity Visualization Retreats" they suggested the name myieSanta as it combined all the elements from the names we wanted. We particularly liked the capital "S" in the middle as it kind of looked like a dollar sign... which we felt was an important element to convey to our investors... that we're the type of company that understands the new economy in a really significant way. Plus, it's a 'dot com' name and we've heard that those are definitely the best ones."

Echristmas, iChristmas whatever you call it you can bet that these digital ripples may soon turn into a digital tidal wave that just may effect the way we interface with our happiest of holidays... forever.

AOL jumps on the Christmas bandwagon with it's eSanta software.

" We tested the beta version in October and the results were startling... I felt guilty just watching it... and I'm not even Catholic!"

Susan Schlemiel-
Senior Programmer iMASS

"As far as I'm concerned the Beyond Presents Project is the only support group with a historical precedent to justify the use of a red ribbon in their awareness campaigns..."

Janet Kaiser
Beyond Presents Project

" Sure, it was a manufactured experience... but it was an AUTHENTIC manufactured experience..."

Jeff Williams - Self-Described Neo-traditionalist

EChrist "moralware" screens your email for blasphemous or godless languge.

"Our ad campaign is breaking new ground with its hip irreverance...our research shows that "irreverance" is very popular right now, did you know that?"

Chad Westland
CEO - myieSanta.com

Check out this years hottest stocking stuffers! Pctyrant reviews the Joe Montana 49k Modem, Dummies for Dummies and an amazing new book by Sarah Michelle Geller

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