Here are five technologies small business owners on the Web might want to track:

  • XML (extensible markup language). XML lets Web site developers make up their own HTML (hypertext markup language) tags, allowing them to add all sorts of new features and tricks and to take complete control over page design. The XML programming language builds on HTML, the coding system currently used to make Web pages. HTML codes, or " tags," provide the layout, links, and other data necessary to display a Web page on your browser. Here are some links to learn more:

    Web Monkey
    ZD Net.
  • Scalable vector graphics (SVG). Your Web pages probably have pictures - that' s part of the sell. And current technology allows a lot of freedom in putting images on the Web; photos, diagrams, and most other graphics are easy to install. The problem is that these images take a tremendous amount of bandwidth, and slow page-loading to a crawl. Like XML, SVG builds on the HTML system, in this case by adding programming codes that can describe certain kinds of images. So, instead of loading a GIF when you want a circle, you simply say (in SVG code, of course), " Draw a circle here." Size, borders, and location on the page are all controllable. Essentially any geometric shape can be coded. SVG is not a revolutionary breakthrough, but it does cut back on bandwidth-hogging images and will speed up the Web. Here's a link to learn more about this and other technologies:

    Web Monkey.
  • DSL vs. cable. These are actually two different technologies, though both offer essentially the same benefit: substantially larger Internet pipelines to homes, small business offices, and other locations. Both DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable modems offer somewhere between 10 and 30 times the bandwidth of traditional modem technology. DSL, often called ADSL (a particular format), uses regular telephone lines already in place. In fact, with ADSL you can use your telephone and your Internet connection simultaneously on one line. Cable modems make use of cable television networks, converting what once was a one-way system for disseminating cable TV signals into a two-way data pipeline to the Internet. Each technology has distinct advantages and disadvantages, but it is almost certain that one or the other - or even both - will be in your future.
  • Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM). One of the largest obstacles to e-commerce growth has been the glacial speed of many Internet connections. Who will buy if buying means long waits and boredom? DSL and cable may increase the flow from the Internet " backbone" to homes and small business, but the backbone itself can suffer data jams. The current Internet simply lacks the necessary bandwidth (or capacity) for e-commerce expansion.

    Wavelength division multiplexing multiplies the bandwidth of fiber-optic lines exponentially, by allowing multiple signals to travel through the same optical fiber simultaneously. Each signal travels on a separate wavelength of light, much as radio signals travel on different frequencies. The beauty of WDM is that lines already in use can carry 16 times their current capacity; there's no need to lay down new cable. Here's a link to learn more:

Tech Review.

  • DNS (domain name system). It isn' t exactly a new technology, but it is technology news that could be very important to your business. The system of assigning domain names (such as "InternationalWorkz" in is about to undergo a dramatic change. Currently, all domain registration is handled by InterNIC, a division of Network Solutions Inc., which was given a monopoly over registration back when the Internet was still called the " information superhighway." Every domain must fit within essentially three " top level" domains: .net, .com, and .org. As many online businesses have learned, those domains don' t stretch very far. Other nations have pressured the United States and Network Solutions to give up their control over the Internet, and an international organization has been established to regulate and guide the Internet forward and address such issues as the adoption of new top level domains (such as .firm and .shop). Here's a link to learn more:

    CNet: Domain Evolution Moving Forward.