Magazine article Online

NewsNet Smart-Mail: Push Delivery Gets Smart

Magazine article Online

NewsNet Smart-Mail: Push Delivery Gets Smart

Article excerpt

NewsNet's Smart-mail is an enhanced email delivery system for the NewsFlash current awareness service, designed for customers of NewsNet on the Web. The system is a clever combination of "push" and "pull" delivery: results arrive by email, and include hyperlinks to complete articles at NewsNet's Web site. This means that they are delivered in HTML form, and must be read using an HTML-enabled email reader, such as Netscape Mail, Explorer's Microsoft Mail, or Qualcomm's Eudora. Netscape Mail version 3.0 or above is the preferred email reader for the service. Smart-mail is currently being extended beyond NewsFlashes, to deliver tables of contents as well.

Getting Set

NewsFlashes are set up by NewsNet's staff, and draw upon NewsNet's stock of over 1000 electronic newsletters and newswires. They may be set for desired intervals-twice per day is typical.

The results that arrive in the email box appear very much as they would if one were browsing Flash results at the Web site. They consist of a highlighted headline, as well as the date, source, article length, and a three-line introduction to longer articles. The price of a full article is also shown here: prices range from $1 to $6, with $3 to $4 being typical. At the time of this review, the only format choice available was the complete text, but KWIC (KeyWord In Context) was expected to be added during May. KWIC articles will cost $1 each, and that dollar will count toward the cost of a complete article if it is chosen.

The service is most effective when used with Netscape Mail, which allows for the use of HTML forms. Forms let Smart-mail appear in full HTML glory, presenting selection boxes with each article that permit the user to check off multiple articles and then click a Retrieve button.

From "Push" to "Pull" This is where the "pull" part comes in. Smart-mail calls the browser and the user is whisked off to NewsNet's Web site, which displays the selections after a password is entered. This is a fairly seamless process when using Netscape Mail, and should become increasingly so with other programs as emailers and Web browsers become more integrated.

The article display includes highlighted keywords and a colorful logo for each publication. Unfortunately, so far this is the extent of Smartmail's enhanced display capabilities: NewsNet's content suppliers are heavy on timely text but have yet to provide any other material, such as illustrations or hotlinks. …

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