The Present of the Information Highway
Commerical Online Services
- it is easy to use
- it has limited business and technical services
- it attracts the personal-use crowd
- searching for software is the easiest among the five
- it is a good entry-level service because of the fine GUI and flexible account
that it provide, and as long as you don't dig too deep it doesn't have any problem
- it is the most robust among the five
- other than the Internet, no online services offers as much as CompuServe
- it has more than 600 forums
- it provides the full text of newspaper and magazines
- it provides over 4000 software libraries
- it is particularly well suited for both small and large business because of
the vast amount information
- it delivers high quality of on-line business news, financial data and general
- it is most targeted at business market because it offers superior financial
information and access to public document on companies
- it is the most expensive. However, if business is your business, then there
is no doubt that Dow Jones worth every bit of its premium price
- it has a small monthly fee for basic service
- searching, however, is quite expensive
- it provides access to professional-level, third-party database, as well as census
data and patent application
- so GEnie is geared towards the professional who needs occasional access to vast
and varied databases of information, and it is definitely not for casual users and
- it was originally designed as an information provider
- it is a personal online connection
- it offers home-user service
- it is aimed more for data browser than the serious business users and researchers
- it is the only one that display advertisements on screen
- it is more an electronic newspaper than a news bureau because information is first
edited in the service's newsroom before being posted
- it is for people who want basic information, simple communication and an entry
-level of the online world
The world of on-line service is vast. And it can be very expensive as well. So,
making smart connections, which is put yourself in control of the information you
want, is key to survive in the information age.
There are five major commercial services. Each of them offers a unique blend
of functionality and accessibility. They also carries its own pricing structure
and choice in interface. They usually includes information such as
- general news
- financial markets
All of them also provide on-line encyclopedias which updated quarterly, so the
information is very current. Beside information searching, these online services also provide communication
media such as
- electronic mail
- discussions forums, and
- chart facilities
To conclude, CompuServe Information Service, GEnie and Dow Jones News/Retrieval
are better equipped for business users because they offer greatest range of facilities
at a premium price. On the other hand, American Online and Prodigy are more
suitable for home users because they are less expensive and easy to user, but
they lack the depth of information. So to choose an online services for yourself,
you must consider what your needs and preferences are.
Type of Applications
As computer science students, we spend most of our time with computers. This
may limit our chance to know other people outside our field.
If you are interested in meeting different kinds of people, then,
you can use the dating services on the Internet.
Through the Internet, you can choose the kinds of friends that you want.
For example, if you would like to know a girl - all you have to do is push
the right buttons, and the internet may deliver for you!
The Internet will search and find those people who match your basic choice.
Some of the sites not only provide peresonal information,
but also pictures as well. You can pick as many people as you want.
Then, you can look through all of them and pick those that your are interested
in. You can pick as many as you want!! If you are too shy to initiate
the communication, you can list your peresonal inforamtion in the Web
and wait for others to contact you.
Once you have found the person of your dreams, you have to start the next
step; send a mail. However, if you want to contact someone who does not
understand English, then, what can you do? With the Internet, you don't
have to worry about this problem. The translating services can help you to
translate various languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Spanish.
For example, you want to know how to write "How are you" in Russian.
What you need to do is to type in "How are you" in English and it will
show you the Russian writing.
Let say, after talking with each other for a while, you find that both of
you have the same interests and you want to develop a closer relationship.
What will you do then? The best way is to buy a present for him/her.
However, if you are too busy or too lazy to go to shop in the mall,
you can do your shopping through the Internet. You can access to the Internet
mall. The Internet mall is just like the our daily shopping mall, such as Market Mall, except with a much wide variety of 'stores' all aroud the world.
The home page of it is like a mall directory.
It lists a variety of categories, such as
"The Internet Mall" classify the categories and put them into
different levels in the mall.
Click the one you like and will bring you to an appropriate level.
Then, you can shop around there, choose the present you like.
Let say, in order to express your feelings to him/her, you decide to buy
the traditional but the most powerful present, that is a bouquet.
You can order different kinds of flowers and send to different places even
across countries. Moreover, you can browse and view the item before you
If you develop a mature relationship with him/her, you
may get married, or develop a 'real-world' realtionship.
After getting marry, your burden will become heavier.
So, you may want to find a better job to support your new family, those kids
Again, the Internet can give you a hand. You can look for job by typing
in your desired position and the Internet will search and list all the
available jobs. If you want to increase your chance of getting a job,
you can even post you resume so that some companies can browse through it.
It is much convenient than sending letter to companies and it saves a lot
of time too.
Suppose you are a lucky person and you get a new job.
However, you are assigned to do something that you have never learned,
say build a new WWW home page for the company using HTML.
You can take advantage of the educatation services of the Internet
by browsing to "A Beginner's Guide to HTML". In fact, there are a lot of information servers in the Internet for us to look up information, such as manuals or magazines
Finally, the Internet serves the groupware purpose, like the e-mail.
You can now keep in frequent contact with your overseas friend by sending
an e-mail. Nowadays, many companies advertised in the World Wide Web provided
with their e-mail addresses to improve the communication with their
customers. Groupware is an interesting topic, for more information
you can check out the presentation prepared for this class about
CSCW and Groupware.
Everyday, we handle our daily life business through the Internet.
From dating friends to hunting jobs, which are used to take a long time.
Now, it can handle by the Internet easily. We benefit a lot from it.
- Increase interactive activities
- Improve quality of life
- Improve efficiency
- Manage huge amount of information
- Decrease cost
When there are advantages, there are also disadvantages. The disadvantages
of the information highway will caused problems to some of the users. The
problems are the:
- ease of use.
The main technical problem is the current bandwidth. It is not enough to
support video and real-traffic on the information highway. Although the
current speed of transmitting text information is fast, a document with
video, audio or images would greatly reduced the speed of transmitting
Another problem would be the electronic viruses on the information highway. Viruses
on the information highway travels faster and reaches a wider
target area. Viruses can erase hard disks, causes systems to crash, and
intermittent file or data erasures.
Privacy and security is a major problem on the information highway. Right
now, there are no security on the net. It is easy for any user to 'steal'
messages by copying someone else's IP address. The lack of encryption increases
The last problem is the ease of use. The navigation aids, like mosaic, WAIS,
netscape and veronica, are provided to help the users to retrieve information
on the internet. But the navigation aids are not easy to use, it is also not
easy to search for information. For example, the search word entered might not
returned the right information or an empty list.
Although there are disadvantages, the information highway still provides
a faster and efficient way of retrieving information.
Table of Contents
Updated April 10,1995