Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 45 | WebReference

Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 45

Vol. 1 No. 3 July 20, 1997

Please Swipe My Credit Card

By Richard Wiggins


ast Saturday was time for our annual trek to the Ann Arbor Art Fair. One of the largest art fairs in the Midwest, each year this event brings thousands of art buyers and gawkers to the streets of Ann Arbor. Locals may hate it: "It isn't Art, and it isn't fair!" For the most part, the art fair is an unwired event. The artists' booths lack electricity and phone lines. This didn't stop one entrepreneur (Zena Technology) from making special arrangements for power and phone, so their banner could proclaim: "Send a digital picture of yourself over the Internet!"

Ann Arbor Art Fair Web site

Even though artist booths weren't connected, the Internet was visible in many of their displays. Artists are beginning to hand out business cards with URLs on them, and even to put the URL of their Web sites prominently on signs in their booths. This could be a very powerful marketing tool: a would-be buyer sees something attractive in the booth, but doesn't want to buy right now because it's too hot or the art is too heavy or the wallet is too thin. So a buyer could return to a virtual gallery of the artist's works from the comfort and convenience of home, and perhaps buy online.

Actually, this Fair comprises three separate art fairs in one. A Web surfer could've planned his or her trip to the fair(s) by visiting an extensive Fair site. Sites describing the Fair date back at least to 1995. This year's site allowed you to locate your favorite artist by name, and scan a map to see where that artist's booth was. Of course you'd do this in advance; at the show you'd pick up a paper catalog and event booklet.

You could imagine next steps for art fairs on the Net. We have plenty of virtual malls on the Internet; why not have virtual art fairs? The Internet Art Fair could include recordings of regional music acts playing over distorted loudspeakers while children scream and college kids dance. Photos of elephant ears and dogs on the grill could accompany, along with video of jugglers juggling and artists hawking as crowds mill about.

Just like every other aspect of our lives, then, the Internet is weaving its way into events as open and fleeting as art fairs. But a sight in one booth inspired some other thoughts about security, credit cards, and the Internet.

Comments are welcome

Produced by Richard Wiggins and

Created: July 20, 1997
Revised: July 21, 1997