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Running at the Speed of Light

IN AN EDITORIAL that was published in 2000, we introduced Modern Bulk Transporter's new web site. The commentary concluded that we weren't sure where the online adventure would lead.

What a difference a year makes. The Internet boom went bust, and Wall Street is littered with the wreckage from hundreds of dotbombs. More startups join the casualty list every day, and the stock market is falling into bear territory.

Here at Modern Bulk Transporter, we went back to the drawing board with our web site. The design simply did not live up to expectations, and we ended up with a site that was difficult to operate and maintain. Most importantly, it did not provide what our readers need or want from a magazine web site.

We believe we have addressed the problems with a major site redesign that was launched in mid-February. It is a dramatic improvement. The web address is still the same (www.bulktransporter.com), but that's about all.

The home page is organized for quick reference. High on the righthand side are the Breaking News and Cover Feature sections. A link also is provided to e-mail comments to the editor.

The Breaking News section is a key element on the home page, and it is where readers can find the latest industry news. We want to provide immediate and usable information that will encourage our readers to visit the web site at least daily.

New stories are posted and updated as fast as we can gather the details. Headlines from late March and early April include the following: Matlack Files for Chapter 11 Reorganization, Vopak Acquires Two Terminals in Finland, Bush Signs Off on Ergonomics Repeal, and Administration Rejects Kyoto Treaty.

This section is one of the key improvements that we made in the Modern Bulk Transporter site. We're now able to post updated information from anywhere we happen to be in the world covering the tank truck, tank container, and storage terminal industries.

Next to the Breaking News section is a thumbnail photo of the cover of the current Modern Bulk Transporter. Below that is the cover story from that issue. Also in that area is a clickable link that enables readers to contact the editor.

In the bottom righthand section of the homepage, readers will find most of the written content from the most recent issue of the magazine under Magazine Contents. Sections include Industry News, Rules & Regulations, Feature Stories, Digital Interchanges, Storage & Terminaling, Coming Events, and People in the News.

Moving to the lefthand side of the site is a navigation column. Here, readers can Browse Back Issues back to May 2000. Supplier Directory is a searchable Buyer's Guide.

Site Features is a section that we will expand in coming months. Current elements include an up-to-date convention calendar with e-mail and web site links where available. A link gives new readers an opportunity to subscribe to the magazine online.

At about the time the April issue rolls off the press, we will add a completely updated Spanish-English tank truck vocabulary. We are also making plans to post this year's Gross Revenue Report under the Site Features section. Other directories may follow based on reader demand.

The Modern Bulk Transporter web site is a part of the IndustryClick Transportation Community, a seven magazine collection. All are part of Intertec Publishing, a Primedia Company. Other IndustryClick online communities are listed under the Magazine Rack button at the top of the homepage. Other IndustryClick buttons are for JobZone, a job listing and searching service, and Research & Tools, an IndustryClick service that conducts online marketing surveys.

As our restructured web site comes back up to speed, we are well aware of the confusion that exists in today's online sector. It is hard to say where it is all going. What we do believe, though, is that the Internet will be a part of the future, both for the world economy as a whole and for the tank truck and storage terminal industries in a narrower sense.

Alvin and Heidi Toffler, co-authors of Future Shock, The Third Wave, and other books about the future, wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal that this stage of New Economy looks an awful lot like the early stages of the Industrial Revolution going back to the early 1700s. Like today, thousands of startups failed because their business models were wrong.

The Tofflers make it clear that we are just in the opening stages of what they are calling the Digital Revolution. The Internet, spreading almost at light speed from China to India to Brazil, is not going away. Some of the most dramatic developments are still to come.

We are all part of this revolution whether we like it or not. Even the most low-tech tank truck carrier will be affected by the changes being wrought by the Internet and the Digital Revolution. The information superhighway will be a necessary part of business in the 21st century.

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