WHAT EXACTLY IS COOL? ”It’s my childlike sense of wonder,” offers Glenn Davis, creator of the megapopular and powerful Cool Site of the Day (http://cool.infi.net) — an eclectic road map to what’s hip on the World Wide Web — and the new Project Cool (http://www.projectcool.com). Davis, 34, who worked in laser-printer production in Norfolk, Va., began exploring the Internet two years ago while laid up with an ankle injury. After landing volunteer gofer work at Norfolk-based Internet provider InfiNet in the summer of ’94, he dreamed up and launched Cool Site there. It wasn’t long before InfiNet offered him a salary to maintain the site.
Cool Site soon won a following among mouse potatoes seeking easy access to wild sites on a Web, he says, overrun with promotional clutter. With its smiling-boy home-page graphic, Cool Site defines user-friendliness, providing links to everything from UFOs to pickup trucks to codpieces. Davis’ choices got so popular, in fact, that thousands would flock to a day’s offering and end up overloading and crashing the site’s server.
Even skeptics concede Cool Site’s influence. ”Cool is so overused on the Web that it doesn’t mean anything anymore,” says Nate Zelnick, an online consultant at the market-research firm Jupiter Communications. ”A lot of people on the Web are declaring themselves arbiters of taste. Glenn Davis did it first, and he works hard, so that has some legitimacy.” And many have lobbied hard to be chosen. Among the strange offers he found in his 400 daily E-mails: ”One man promised to tattoo our logo on his wife’s buttocks,” Davis says.
Last November, Davis left Cool Site to InfiNet. Now, with cofounder Teresa Martin, 34, he’s pitching ad space for Project Cool, which he describes as ”one step beyond Cool Site. It teaches you how to make a cool site.” So, is Davis beginning to chill out? ”No,” he maintains, ”I still have the child in me. I still surf the Web and go, ‘Wow! How cool!”’