You have to hand it to CompuServe. In a short space of time it has transformed itself from a boring near-monopoly into one of the most dynamic service providers on the planet. The threat of competition from the Microsoft Network had everything to do with it. First CompuServe cut its prices and increased the number of free services. Second it provided a full Internet connection. Now it has abandoned its quirky practice of insisting that your e-mail address could only be expressed in numeric format, allowing you to pick an alias instead. I know several companies that refused to join CompuServe simply because they couldn’t get their company name, or an abbreviation of it, into their e-mail address. I’ve now switched from being a non-intuitive 100073,2711 to being John_Carr, though you will still get me on the old numeric address (and on the Prospect address at the end).
And now CompuServe is allowing every member to construct their own Home Page on the World Wide Web. You can have up to 1MB of information on your Home Page, and again, it’s free. If you promise you won’t laugh, I’ll let you know my Home Page address. It’s: http://ourworld.compuserve.com:80/homepages/john_carr. After downloading the free web-page creation software I completed the whole routine in about 30 minutes. It was all very easy but it made me realise that I do not really need a Home Page of my own. I mean, what do you say to complete strangers? Such diffidence has not deterred quite a few Brits from putting up their own home pages. I spotted a firm of solicitors advertising themselves, and several computer companies. But the first two personal pages I actually looked at had been created by evangelical Christians. The third was a reassuringly unusual one created by someone who is plainly pleased that he is about to become a father. He’s posted a picture of his wife’s sonic scan. Is this a world first? On the Net before you’re even born!
The Times and Sunday Times have joined the growing list of newspapers that have gone on-line on the web. In the UK I counted 22 altogether on a site called www.newslink.org. Alongside Wapping’s finest you can look at the Blackburn Citizen, the Chorley Citizen and the Leigh Journal, not to mention the Financial Times, the Guardian, Observer, and the Telegraph. However, pride of place must go…