he press is full of stories about how
the Internet is making a lot of
money for a few people and could
make lots more for others. There
are plenty of breathless tales of how
useful an Internet application could be if it lives
up to its potential.
But there are real people out there, right
now, who are doing things on the 'Net that
would have been impossible before the global
computer network came along.
Dr. Lester Raff found information on a rare
condition that ~asn't in traditional resources,
but was online. Bill Chadwick found people
who knew what it was like to lose a child
because they had. Fatima Pelesic-Muminovic
told the world about life in Bosnia through
online postings of her poetry.
These are just some of the Internet activ.~.-
ties that make the best use of this ever-gl0w-
ing technology. They ill 0" not be the
splashiest uses' of the 'Net'br even the most
70 PC Novice / October 1996
Making The
Best Use
Of The 'Net
Five Areas Where The Onliine World
Really Has People Talking
recent developments. But they are things
that couldn't be done without the 'Net or
that have been revolutionized by doing
them there. They're among the things
we've identified as making the best uses of
Internet technology, namely communicat-
ing without geographical limitations, reach-
ing a wide number of people, and sharing
information quickly.
All of our top uses are just variations on a
theme: people exchanging information. That is,
after all, what the Internet is about. It's obvi-
ous that the quality and accuracy of theinfor-
mation aren't equal in all areas of the Internet.
, (You could find a lot of what's online for free
at the library.) But a lot of information would
be impossible for many people to get without
the 'Net, and the exchange among individuals
would be difficult or impossible without the
Internet as a go-between. That's why we've
picked the following uses as the best of the
'Net-because they all help people exchange
useful information better than they could with-
out the Internet.
Electronic mail (E-mail) is probably the
best use of the Internet for the largest
number of people. It allows easy, relatively inex-
p.ensive communication between users any-
'wbere in the world at any time of day or night.
Most E-mail programs also let users attach files
(such as word processing or spreadsheet docu-
ments) to their messages, making it an easy way
to send documents to others. In fact, most
free-lance writers who work for PC Novice send
us their articles that way.
Even commercial online services such as
America Online and CompuSerye have rates
much cheaper than long-dist,!nce telephone
calls. But the free E-mail now available
through providers such as Juno Online
Services (800/ 654-JUNO, 212/478-0800,
http://www.juno.com) is the best deal
around for most people who only use the
Internet for E-mail, if you can put up with a
few on-screen ads. The only reasoh you would
want to pay for E-mail service is if you need
features unavailable through free E-mail.
Juno, for example, doesn't support file attach-
ments and can be used only in the United
For other users, the best option may be a
combination of free E-mail and a paid account
with an Internet service provider that lets them
participate in other aspects of the Internet such
as the World Wide Web. If you get an account
that offers unlimited monthly usage for one
fee, you won't need the free E-mail. Otherwise,
using a service like Juno to keep at least part of
your online time free is worthwhile.
Most services that charge for online time let
you compose and read mail offline with the
meter turned off, so even E-mail with a price
beats the heck out of long-distance calls. It is,
however, easy to get carried away and use E-
mail to communicate with people locally, too.
This is a smart way to communicate only if the
person is impossible to reach by telephone or if
you have free E-mail. Otherwise, you're
spending money 1.ft1necessarily just for the
sake of using E-mail.