It's More Than Just Fun

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (NYT) -- Women, it is clear, are not passing hour upon hour at their computers watching the online equivalent of General Hospital. A new survey shows that women go online for practical reasons, like shopping, travel reservations and to seek specific information, and tend to be loyal to a few chosen sites. Men, on the other hand, tend to roam around, sometimes looking for amusement. "There is one thing women don't want to do online: linger in front of their monitors with a cup of Cafe Vienna," said Jesse Berst, editor of ZDNet Anchor Desk, an industry newsletter. The reason? Simply put: "Women are more pressed for time," he said.

The survey, "It's a Woman's World Wide Web," was conducted by Jupiter Communications with Media Metrix. Besides examining the sexes' online behavior, it showed that for the first time, women outnumber men online, with a 50.4 percent share of the online population. "Women are interested in a more efficient experience -- getting online and getting off," said Anya Sacharow, an analyst at Jupiter. "Men are more interested in technology for technology's sake, and in the more random aspects of Net surfing."

Sacharow said the survey pointed to different priorities. Women are "often juggling kids, jobs and taking care of the house," she said. "Men more often than not are only responsible for themselves."

The study found that older women use the Internet to make their lives easier. Bolstering this notion that women go online to simplify their lives rather than fulfill them, the study found that many consumer product sites had disproportionate numbers of female visitors.

Replacing tobacco with grapes

BOONVILLE, N.C. (Cox) -- In the four decades he's grown tobacco, Frank Hobson never worried about the rising and setting of the sun. "Tobacco's a weed," the Yadkin County farmer always figured, and it would grow just about anywhere.

But now, as one of a steadily growing number of North Carolina farmers diversifying into grapes, 57-year-old Hobson has learned to pay attention to sunshine and other considerations critical to cultivating sweet, firm grapes. "They're growing, I swear," said Hobson, holding the tender green leaves of a Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine in one of his big rough hands, and a Salem Light in the other.

Down the road, in Dobson, officials at Surry Community College are giddy over grapes. Starting with classes Thursday, the college will be the first in North Carolina to offer a two-year degree in viticulture, the study of growing and marketing grapes. Over the past year, farmers swelled the attendance of noncredit classes intended to introduce grapes as an alternative. "We've been looking for years for something new, knowing that tobacco was waning," said John Collins, 56, the college's vice president for instruction.

But skeptics abound, pointing to supposedly promising crops -- such as kiwi fruit in South Carolina and broccoli in Virginia -- that flopped once planted in Southern soil. Hogs, chickens, strawberries, soybeans and sweet potatoes are among the many crops farmers raise, but typically not as profitably as tobacco. Cultivating grapes also requires a greater initial investment and different growing techniques than tobacco, a crop farmers are so accustomed to growing they're reluctant to give up.

"I just can't see that many farmers, especially the smaller ones, going into the grape business," said Darrell Crisp, executive director of the Farm Services Agency in Surry County.

Creative Cornhuskers

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) -- A large yellow and black sign warns westbound travelers on one of the nation's busiest transcontinental highways: "MONUMENT AHEAD. DO NOT PARK. DO NOT SLOW DOWN." Rounding a curve on Interstate 80 in the middle of central Nebraska's flat and empty prairie, travelers are confronted with an eight-story- high covered bridge spanning the four-lane highway. …