Magazine article Online

Pushing the Web to the Next Level

Magazine article Online

Pushing the Web to the Next Level

Article excerpt

It's been just two years since the World Wide Web burst on the scene and revolutionized information delivery. Today, no knowledgeable person doubts that there are some pockets of high-quality, important information on the web (even though we do routinely question specific sites and publishers). Content is no longer the question--now it is how we access the content. Two models for transmitting web content are popularly characterized as "push" or "pull" methods.


Experienced searchers are accustomed to the "pull" method of information delivery. Even the word "searcher" denotes that the actions necessary to extract content are performed by the receiver of the data. Searchers recognize a question, select sources, formulate a strategy, connect to a source, manipulate it, and pull out data. The same basic actions occur whether one logs on to DIALOG to pull a list of recent headlines, points a browser to Alta Vista, or consults the index of a printed encyclopedia.

The push model removes the action from the information receiver--at least on a transactional level. "Push," as it works with the PointCast Network--the original "pusher"--transmits data automatically to your desktop computer. You do little more each day than turn on the switch. You don't have to consider and select multiple sources or learn varying interfaces. A steady stream of data simply parades across your screen continuously, as a banner or a screen saver. When a headline grabs your eye, just click for the full text. In addition to Net deployment through the likes of Marimba, Farcast, Paracel, and Individual, push technology is expected to be incorporated into standard office software within the year.

Of course, it's not an either/or situation; the laws of physics and human nature assure that both push and pull will continue to exist. There are hybrids of the models: you may get information pushed to your email box, where it sits until you elect to pull it down. But push methods are increasing and becoming more refined, and there seems to be an inevitable pull toward push.


It's hard to avoid an analogy to television broadcasting, especially since the "pushers" themselves use terms like webcasting, channels, programs, and viewers. …

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