Extras – A Stroll through the Exhibit Hall — Internet World, Spring 1997

Cindy Chick, Co-Editor, Law Library Resource Xchange

Cindy Chick is the Director of Library Services at the Los Angeles office of Graham & James LLP and has been a law firm librarian for 17 years. She received her M.L.S. from UCLA with a specialization in law librarianship.

(Posted April 21, 1997; Archived May 22, 1997)

Okay, it was really more like a dash, but a dash
through the exhibit hall just doesn’t sound right.

Ah, Internet World. In California, it’s become another sign of spring. (And we need all the signs we can get.) This year it moved from San Jose to the Los Angeles Convention Center, less than a mile from my office. I couldn’t ask for a more convenient location than that! You see, IW has outgrown the convention center in San Jose, as demonstrated by the tents that were erected last year to house a portion of the exhibits. What they’ll do when they outgrow the Convention Center remains to be seen. And attendance at IW was higher than ever – 50,000 people attended, 40% more than last year.

If you want to get in the IW mood, and you have the Real Audio player, you might want to listen to “an Interview with Alan Meckler, CEO of Mecklermedia (Provided by the Pat&Mike radio show).” The Internet World empire got its start as a short newsletter designed mainly for the librarian community at a time when most people couldn’t imagine coming up with enough material for an annual, much less a monthly, publication on the Internet. Have things changed since 1990 or what.

This year I again decided to forgo the program itself, and concentrate on the exhibits. The program seems to get increasingly expensive, making the price of audiotapes seem inconsequential in comparison. (For a list of available audiotapes, contact Professional Programs Audio Cassettes at 805-244-7774). And it’s hard to concentrate on the programs, with all the action going on in the exhibit hall.

The total exhibit area was about 15 acres, with 600 exhibitors, so there’s no doubt that I only saw a fraction of the booths that are of interest. But what the heck, I thought I’d share with you what I did see.

The big news at Internet World was the “push” and broadcasting technologies. This is the newest trend in the delivery of information over the Internet. The term “push” technology refers to products that deliver information to your desktop, rather than requiring you to go TO a website to retreive what you want.

Pointcast has been the leader in delivery of news to the desktop. Their product, which works best with a constant, live Internet connection, delivers up-to-the minute news to your screensaver. Don’t touch your PC for a few minutes, and up will pop your screensaver displaying “all the news you can use.” This booth was difficult to even get near! During IW they announced alliances with the Wall Street Journal and Ziff-Davis to provide content on channels to be available in April.

The Air Media Live booth was eye-catching. They broadcast “information alerts” wirelessly to your PC using beeper channels to a small pyramid called the “Newscatcher” attached to your computer’s serial port. When you receive a broadcast, you can click on the embedded URL to connect to the Internet to see the whole story. Pretty cool. (Sorry, but any article about Internet World has to use the word “cool” at least once.)

BackWeb takes a different approach to news delivery. When you’re browsing the net, there is a significant amount of idle time while you read your screen. BackWeb downloads information during that “down” time. You can view your news as wallpaper, a banner, or a screensaver. If you buy their server technology, you can even deliver information through your Intranet. Can’t you just see it? You could send announcements about that lost book to everyone’s screen saver. BackWeb, as well as AirMedia and FirstFloor have joined with Microsoft to integrate their technologies into the Internet Explorer browser.

Arrive by Ifusion definitely caught my interest. I’ve been waiting for an Internet application that could allow me to pick and choose which local news I want to see. In Los Angeles, the high-speed chases and shootings just don’t hold my interest anymore. It looks like Arrive might do the trick. They don’t have a L.A. stations yet, but do have San Francisco’s CBS affiliate KPIX. You can read the news stories you’re interested in, and even see the short video clip of the day.

Web Performance Enhancers: Don’t Let Them Push You Around (3/97 PC World)

PC Magazine’s InternetUser – Browsing (Push-content Clients)

PC World: Make Screen Savers Time Savers. (5/97)

PC Magazine’s InternetUser – First Floor’s Smart Bookmarks 3.0

AirMedia Provides Wireless Push Delivery for Microsoft Active Desktop

PC Magazine – InternetUser – Netscape Communicator Preview Release 3

PC Magazine’s InternetUser – Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 Platform Preview

Of course, Netscape and Microsoft were there in force. Netscape was demo-ing the new version of their browser, Netscape Communicator, a much-expanded version of Netscape which, among many other things, lets you send e-mail messages with html formating, and Microsoft was showing the newest versions of Internet Explorer and Frontpage, and heavy emphasis on their intranet products. (Need I even mention that intranet technology was also ubiquitious at IW?)

I moved on from the main hall to the other two “smaller” halls. I was interested to see several vendors with products such as ENEN’s NetSeminar that allows you to broadcast live multimedia presentations over the Internet, and NetPresentation for producing simpler presentations on demand without live interaction. Then there was OnLive! Technologies for conferencing over the Internet. If you want to broadcast your child’s birthday party to all the relatives over the Net, check out Personal WebCast. With all this broadcasting and conferencing going on, you can imagine that fairly soon we won’t be limited to talking to each other over law-lib.

The variations on the communications theme just go on and on. There was Internet VoiceMail and Internet Phone from Volcaltec and Digiphone. And faxing over the Internet from FaxSav.

There were a few content providers, such as Dun & Bradstreet. D&B was demonstrating their Internet access for those with a D&B contract who would like to retrieve business reports from the Web, and their new Companies Online site that let’s you search for free information on a company and find their home page. Hoover’s was there (as of Hoover’s Company profiles) and announced an agreement with Infoseek to integrate Hoover’s Company information into Infoseek’s search engine.

Infoseek was also there showing off their natural language search capabilities and Infospace presented their “Ultimate Directory.” Infowizard claims to gather information from the Web for you while you work on other things, like your very own “personal research assistant.” (Or librarian maybe?) And Internet FastFind from Symantec claims to search all the top Web search engines simultaneously, and automatically alerts you to changes to your favorite Web sites. Do we have enough information yet?

There was even a law firm specializing in Internet Law, Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner LLP, who, by the way, also publish a newsletter called “MultiMedia on the Web Strategist.” How much to you want to bet that they’re not the only law firm exhibiting at Internet World next year?

A selection of what I would call Internet utilities, or programs that do specific, small tasks, were well-represented. If you’ve had it with trying to deal with unusable e-mail attachments, you might want to try e-TACCHMENT OPENER, which opens, views and decompresses files you receive over e-mail. Forefront was there showing off WebWacker, a program that downloads web pages for viewing at a later time, WebSeeker, a program that searches over 20 search engines at once, and WebPrinter, a program that transforms web pages into double-sided booklets.

Now here’s an idea. Tuneup.com. If you subscribe to their basic service, they’ll update you about new viruses and software and driver updates. They also have a service called Data Garage for backing up your data offsite over the Internet.

If you want a free e-mail account, take a look at hotmail, a web-based e-mail service that is supported by advertising rather than monthly fees.

Now pay attention, because here’s something that I think might be REALLY useful. ZooWorks Research for Teams records and indexes all the Web pages your “team” visits. Just substitute “attorneys” for “team” and you’ll get the picture. If you installed this product, and designated all of your attorney as “team” members, you would then have a database of all the sites being accessed by your attorneys, and how often they were used. When someone walked into your office and mentioned a site, but can’t remember the address, you can search the database to find it. If you want to know whether there’s an incredibly useful site that should be added to your home page, you could find that information by checking to see which sites are being accessed and how often. There is a “private” feature, so this is not intended to monitor non-business use of the Net, but would provide a wealth of information on what your attorneys were finding of legitimate use on the Internet.

Here’s a little piece of interesting information, courtesy of an Internet security company called OnGuard. Did you know that in late 1996 someone hacked into the Department of Justice web site, substituting their version of the DOJ’s home page for the real thing? The name change to the Department of Injustice should be been a tip off.

Net-It Software’s Net-It-Now product may provide some competition for Adobe Acrobat. This product takes output from most windows applications, and converts it into a Java file that displays the document maintaining it’s original fonts and formatting. It does not require any additional plug-in for your browser, as long as you have a browser version that can handle Java, such as Netscape 3.0. One major drawback, though you can view the document, you can’t print it from your web browser due to a limitation in Java.

If all this time on the Internet is taking it’s toll on your wrists, check out the Comfortype “ergonomic interface.” I tried out the keyboard add-on, and though I’m sure it would take some getting used to, it seemed to certainly keep my wrists and arms at the desirable neutral position.

For More Information….

Internet World, Spring 1997, Complete Exhibitor List

PC Magazine: InternetUser @ Internet World

Business Wire News Releases – Internet World

Interest!ALERT Announces Push Technology for Intelligent Content Channels; Personalized Interest Filters Allow Any Web Content Provider or Publisher to Personalize Channels Automatically

America Online Chooses VDOLive; Showcasing Internet Video and to be Available to All AOL Members

America Online Selects FirstFloor Technology As Key Component In Driveway; “AOL’s Driveway” to Include FirstFloor’s Intelligent Agent and Off-Line Viewing Technologies

VDOnet Demonstrates First Net Video that Approaches Television Quality; “Scalable Video” Technology will Enable Internet or Intranet Full Screen Video at 30 Frames-Per-Second

PC Quote to offer free MarketSmart Real-Time stock quotes on the Internet; subscribers pay exchange fees only

LEXIS-NEXIS reQUESTer now available via the Web

ClariNet & Interest!ALERT Announce Push Technology for Personalized News; Interest!ALERT Makes Its Service Available Immediately to ClariNet’s 200 ISPs and 1.5 Million Users

Posted in: Extras, Internet Trends