From crispen@INTERNIC.NET Thu Oct 23 14:27:50 1997
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 17:26:54 -0400
From: crispen@INTERNIC.NET
Subject: TOURBUS -- 23 OCTOBER 1997 -- BIG!

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    _________ ____________ ________ __________ _____________ ___ _
   /         |            /        |          |             /   | \
  |      New | FREE site /   for   | people   | over 50! | /    |  \
  |__________|__________/__________|__________|___________/     |   \
 /                                                       /______|----\
|     Chat with celebrities, read news articles, send    |//////|    |
|      flowers, participate in lively debates, find      |//////|    |
|     travel bargains, maybe even fall in love again!    |//////|    |
|    Visit - Because life begins after 50!  |//////|    |
|                      |//////|    |
    /   \  /   \                                             /   \
    \___/  \___/  T h e   I n t e r n e t   T o u r B u s    \___/


Howdy, y'all!  :)

I have a favor to ask of our TOURBUS riders who are not in the United
States.  To make up for my mistakenly saying that 6:00 PM Central Time is
Noon Greenwich Mean Time (it is actually _Midnight_ GMT), I'm going to give
our non-US-riders a sneak-peek at next week's TOURBUS stop, "The Wire."
Here's what I need you to do:

     1. Go to the San Jose Mercury News' "Breaking News" page at

     2. On the "Breaking News" page, click on the Associated Press'
        "The Wire" icon.

     3. Tell me if you get a three frame newspaper on your screen.

I _really_ want to talk about "The Wire" next week, but I want to
double-check that the site isn't blocked to our overseas riders.  After
all, we wouldn't want a repeat of that nasty New York Times experience
(TOURBUS, 25 January 1996) would we?  :)

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One of the best things about the Internet is that it allows _anyone_ to say
_anything_ they want on _any_ topic, and these comments can be posted for
the entire world to see.  For the first time in history, the power of Mr.
Gutenberg's little tool of dissemination has been extended to _everyone_.
Thanks to the Net, physicists can answer questions from junior high school
students, Aunt Martha can share her cherry cobbler recipe with the rest of
the world, and bozos like me can take 80,000 people on a virtual tour of

One of the _WORST_ things about the Internet, however, is that it allows
_anyone_ to say _anything_ they want on _any_ topic, and these comments can
be posted for the entire world to see.  Thanks to the Net, weirdos can
distribute stories saying that John Denver was really an alien (he was born
in Roswell, New Mexico, after all), Aunt Martha can share her disturbingly
bad cherry cobbler recipe with the entire world, and bozos like me can take
80,000 people on a virtual tour of cyberspace.

The real problem is that the Net isn't "peered" (in other words, the Net's
content is almost never edited or even reviewed by experts).  With almost
every other resource that comes into your home, business, or classroom, the
facts are checked and rechecked, usually by a group of editors or peers.
In short, if the content of these non-Net resources isn't the truth with a
capital T, it's the next best thing.

On the Internet, typically *none* of these safeguards apply.  There is
nothing stopping me from posting the following information online:

     6:00 PM Central Standard Time = Noon Greenwich Mean Time

While this mistake might seem minor at first (it is, after all, only off by
a mere 12 hours), imagine the consequences if you used this piece of
"information" in a school report or business document.

One of the most daunting online tasks is sorting through the piles of
mis-information on the Net to find those few nuggets of "truth."  Most
people have neither the time nor the patience to do this for any extended
period of time.  What the Internet badly needs is a well-respected curator
or librarian who is willing to take the time to point the rest of us in the
direction of the "truth nuggets."

Well, the nice folks at the Encyclopedia Britannica want to be that
"nugget-pointer-outer."  They have launched a new, _FREE_ (yes, Britannica
is actually doing something online for free) service called the "Britannica
Internet Guide" which you can find on the Web at

Now, the "Britannica Internet Guide" ("BIG") is _not_ the online version of
the Encyclopedia Britannica.  That subscription service costs $85 a year
(US), and can be found online at


The Britannica Internet Guide ( is a _free_ guide to
the highest "quality" Web sites on the Net.  BIG is a lot like Lycos' Point
Reviews (, but BIG only includes pointers to sites
that provide highly accurate, reliable information.  Britannica's editors
reviewed millions of Web sites -- well, they reviewed _LOTS_ of Web sites
-- and they only chose to include links to those sites that excelled in the
following areas:

     - Depth, accuracy, completeness, and utility of information;
     - Quality and effectiveness of presentation;
     - Credentials and authority of the author or publisher;
     - Elegance of design and ease of navigation;
     - Frequency of revision; and
     - Quality of graphics or multimedia.

The few Web sites that exceeded in all of these categories were then rated
on the following scale:

    Noteworthy          (0 stars)
    Recommended         (1 star)
    Exceptional         (2 stars)
    Best of the Web     (3 stars)

How "strict" was Britannica's review?  Well, only 65,000 Web sites met
Britannica's standards, and of those 65,000 only 30 or so were rated "Best
of the Web."  In fact, according to Britannica, about 15% of the sites
received a Recommended (1 star) rating and less than one percent were
judged to be Exceptional (2 stars).

Most of the sites in the Britannica Internet Guide (about 85% of the
65,000, in fact) received a Noteworthy (0 stars) rating.  According to

     [t]hese include (a) informational sites which, in the judgment of
     the editors, will be useful to readers but which have a limited
     scope or little or no editorial enhancement; (b) works of art and
     literature, historical documents, and other primary resources;
     and (c) many official sites for corporations, schools, libraries,
     newspapers, magazines, and other institutions. Although these
     sites are not awarded a star in this selective guide, they should
     still be regarded as valuable sources of information.

     [all quotes from]

So, what does this mean for you and me?  Well, BIG is a one-stop place for
the absolute best, most reliable information online.

There are two ways that we can use BIG.  We can use it as a search engine
to search for topics that interest us (if BIG does not have anything on the
topic that we are looking for, it will automatically ship our search to
Alta Vista), or we can manually browse through BIG's 14 categories (much
like Yahoo!).  BIG's categories are:

     Art and Literature
     Business, Economy, and Employment
     Computers and the Internet
     Health and Medicine
     Law, Government, and Politics
     News and Current Events
     Philosophy and Religion
     Science, Technology, and Mathematics
     Social Science
     Society and Social Issues
     Sports and Diversions
     World Geography and Culture

Actually, my comparison of BIG to Yahoo! is intentional.  BIG is a lot like
Yahoo! with a content filter.

While BIG's database of sites is admittedly small, that is only because
Britannica's standards are so high.  I am upset that they haven't reviewed
TOURBUS yet (I figure we deserve at least 6 or 7 stars).  Still, if you are
conducting research on the Net, or if you are frustrated by the high number
of sites that provide questionable information, you really should check out
Britannica's Internet Guide at .

This may be the one Web site that everyone has been looking for.


BALMER (noun): The biggest city in the State of Maryland.
Usage: "Ju know that your fearless 'Southern' Bus driver was actually born
in Balmer, Merlin?"

(Special thanks to "Jack R. Stokvis" for today's wurd)

[By the way ... that's "you-ay-won-eye-ex"]

  For info on my new book "Atlas for the Information Superhighway"

=====================[ TOURBUS Rider Information ]===================
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  (\__/)  .'     )  ))          Patrick Douglas Crispen
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