The World Wide Web is '90s version of CB radio

May 07, 1997

The World Wide Web is '90s version of CB radio

Dishes are piling up in the sink. Bags under the eyes are reaching jawbone level. The cat has not been fed in years.

I'd been so good, resisting all this on-line garbage for years. Then it just sort of up and grabbed me when I wasn't looking. A superfast computer, an e-mail address, Netscape, the works.

Now nothing else gets done. A book, "Ragtime," lies still and dusty and only a third read.

I'm up a 2 a.m. reading the Heaven's Gate home page and their dissertation on why suicide (I'm not kidding) is a bad thing. Then it's on to discount airline tickets that aren't really all that discounted and a primer on how to buy cars more cheaply, which basically can be summed up as "Tell the dealer you're not going to pay as much as he's asking." Thanks.


I've always maintained the Web is the '90s version of CB radio, and I tend to stand by that assessment, although the Internet will take lots longer to run its course. Ninety-eight percent of the stuff on the Internet is junk. It's just that there is so much junk. CB, after all, only had 40 channels. The Internet is endless - and for some reason a user feels a need, a right, nay a duty, to call up every last site that promises a recipe that will exactly reproduce the taste of McDonald's "special sauce."

I said my computer was superfast. And it is, except that it came loaded with specially designed, high-tech software that - when the Web is in danger of actually serving up something interesting - forces the computer to:

1. Crash.

2. Tell me the site can't be accessed through this particular search engine.

3. Tell me the site hasn't been completed yet.

But as long as the Web keeps spitting up drivel the machine keeps purring like a kitten.

Like those chat rooms you here so much about. Here is a typical chat room conversation:

Oh4cool: Hi all.

DRTbooper: 328: Hi.

Skeeziks: Hello.

LuvRus: Hi boop.

DRTbooper: Hi Luv.

Oh4cool: what's up Skeez?

Skeeziks: Not much.

TyDee471: What are we talking about here?

LuvRus: Hi Ty.

Oh4cool: Not much.

TyDee471: Hi Luv.

Skeeziks: Where are you from Luv?

LuvRus: Boston.

Oh4cool: I'm from Boston, too.

LuvRus: Really?

Oh4cool: Well, actually New Hampshire.

BhaP: Hi all. what's up?

Skeeziks: Not much.

And on and on and on. If you are not online, this is the gripping conversation you are missing.

Of course I'm being simplistic here. There are interesting things you can do on the net. Like you can arrange all your stocks in one file and with the push of a single button the computer will calculate the value of your entire portfolio in only four times (assuming no crashes) the amount of time it would take you to do it yourself with paper and pencil.

Just as you can look up a recipe in a 3X5 file or a phone number in a Rolodex in about half the time it takes to call it up on a computer screen.

A computer is a bit like a spaceship that goes 50 miles an hour. Yes, you can get there faster in a car, but dang it, it's a spaceship.

However you can learn about some really fun people. There's a lovely little coastal town in Alaska called Sitka. It sits on a protective harbor, and standing sentry over the harbor is a majestic, snow-covered volcano peak.

The first of April (according to the Web, so take it for what it's worth, which is probably nothing) startled residents awoke to see the volcano smoldering. Sure it was ready to blow, they anxiously began planning their escapes.

What they didn't know, was that late that night someone had airlifted a bunch of old tires to the summit and set them afire. It made oodles of black smoke and a spectacular April Fool's joke.


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