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What World Wide Web needs are more, better personal sites

ADD THIS to your "What's wrong with the Internet?" list: There aren't enough World Wide Web sites out there.

Not enough? There are so many that you couldn't view them all in your lifetime; so many that no accurate tally of the number exists. And thousands more appear every day. How can there not be enough?

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Because you probably don't have one. The typical personal computer user is connected to the Internet, and the typical online service or Internet access provider throws in a space on the Web at no extra cost.

But most of that free Web space is sitting idle.

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America Online has 8 million users. Every one of them has access to free Web space, but only 2 million have bothered to use it. CompuServe has 2.5 million members, but only about 140,000 of them have set up Web pages.

And then there are at least three companies that give away Web space to anybody who asks for it. They've got about a million takers between them.

It seems a shame to let all those Web pages go to waste, especially since they can be put to so many practical uses. We've all seen enough pages featuring pet cocker spaniels, newborn babies and favorite Star Trek characters.

But this cheap Web space can also be used to advertise a small business or share important information with friends and colleagues.

Say you want to keep people informed about your schedule for the week. Post the information on your site, then give them your Web address and tell them to check it regularly.

Are people always calling you with the same old questions? The Internet invented a solution for that problem years ago -- the FAQ, or frequently-asked- questions list. Post a FAQ on your Web site and tell people to check there first. Anybody who needs to distribute chunks of information can benefit by publishing on the Web -- even me.

All PR flacks should visit http: //members.tripod.com/ (tilde)krothering/index.html, a handy guide on how not to bother me while I'm trying to make my deadlines. Study it and use it.

If you subscribe to AOL, CompuServe or Prodigy, you already own some Web space. It's measured in the amount of disk space your site can take up on the company's Web server computer. For instance, an AOL customer can get a total of 10 megabytes of storage. That's enough to create a site hundreds of pages long. Just visit the member services area and find out how to set up a site.

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You can hammer together a basic Web site in minutes. You don't need to know a thing about HTML coding or CGI scripts; you don't need to buy fancy Web design software. The online services provide page-building tools, including pre-designed layouts to help you create something presentable.

Then there are companies that provide free Web space to all comers. Among the best-known is Tripod (http: //www.tripod.com), in Williamstown, Mass., which makes its money by delivering 300,000 sets of eyeballs to major advertisers like Ford and Microsoft. In exchange, Tripod visitors can sign up for 200 kilobytes of Web space -- the company says this will soon be boosted to 2 megabytes. CMG Information Services Inc. of Andover, Mass., runs GeoCities (http: //www.geocities.com). They're probably the biggest of the free Web operators, with 600,000 members. You can also contact Angelfire (http: //www.angelfire.com), a Maryland-based service that supplies 300,000 free pages.

Pub Date: 6/16/97


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