Speculations: Past and Future
"Should I be on the Net," Barb asked, "or in the Internet? What's the difference? And is there somewhere else I should put my business online?" She is a direct-mail marketing whiz whose clients include charities raising money for research into specific diseases. She is one of those responsible for the plethora of direct-mail requests we all receive for financial assistance, and for raising public awareness for non-profit associations representing, for example, people with kidney disease. Something out there in the online world is pertinent to her business, she knows. How can she bend those online resources to her needs, she asked, while keeping her overhead costs at a manageable level?
"What do you want?" I asked. If all she needed was an electronic mail address to put on her business card--and since E-mail is a status symbol as well as a facilitator, that's all many people want--then a local account at the Ability Online Bulletin Board (or the Toronto Freenet) would serve her well. But if she wanted to keep abreast of new reports on medical research in the areas in which her groups are involved, I said, then she might want to collect news stories on CompuServe, Dow Jones, or another service with automatic clipping files. If she needs the medical texts, the work of researchers, however, then a Knight Ridder Information--style news file would be better. Finally, I advised, if she planned to create a site where people online can go for information on the groups she represents, then the World