Information glut 

Everybody wants to rule the world

Everybody wants to rule the world

By James Hanback Jr.

Future generations may look back on computer history in the 1990s and be reminded of the all-too-familiar opening scene of a novel by H.G. Wells or George Orwell, in which controlling giants run the show while the little guy sweats and toils in the dark underground, trying to find his own way up to the light.

Fortunately for our age, and for our country, the spirit of capitalist competition is still alive, although it appears to be floundering in the face of bulky technological machines such as Microsoft, America Online, and Yahoo!—all of which have in recent years come under attack for their sheer omnipotence in the computer industry, and their seeming ability to tap any competitor on the shoulder and force him to step aside while they race ahead, unstoppable.

The results are frustration for the entrepreneur who is just starting out, and glory for the established company looking for a still larger piece of the pie.

While Microsoft battles it out with Sun Microsystems, and while small software companies are increasingly swallowed by larger corporations, Middle Tennessee has remained a strangely competitive environment for online industries. More are opening every day, and a majority of the ones that were here in the beginning of the consumer Internet boom are still here, growing as a result of changing consumer demands.

So what will it mean for Middle Tennessee when CitySearch, the nation’s largest online community guide developer (, or locally), merges with Zip2 (, another leading developer, to form the largest creator of such locally categorized search engines in the world?

The two Web developers made the announcement April 6, stating that they intend to be “a major new force in local online information and original content. The combined company will have 175 cities in its international network, including 27 of the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas; more than 200 newspaper, television, and radio partners; in excess of 700 staff; and more than 15,000 Web sites sold to local businesses.”

The company will be called CitySearch and will be based out of Mountain View, Calif., Zip2’s current headquarters.

CitySearch says its objective is to create sites that “feature original content covering arts and entertainment, community, recreation, shopping, news, sports, and weather and are supported principally by a direct-sales force delivering advertising and electronic commerce services to local businesses, in addition to sponsorships and banner-style advertising.”

At its core, CitySearch is a catalog of local information and links to other local Web sites—the sort of electronic chamber of commerce directory that other Web developers have attempted to develop and market since the masses first rubbed their eyes and discovered the online community a few years ago.

But it’s still not the only one.

Middle Tennessee is full of Web sites touting local information about where to find what and how to get it. Among them are Telalink’s “Nashville.Net” (, a new site about to be unveiled called “Nashville Now” (, The Tennessean‘s “OnNashville” (http://www.onnashville. com.), and the Scene’s own “Movie Clock,” “Events Guide,” “Job Market,” classifieds, and real estate ads at

The sheer number of Web sites dedicated to listing local events, organizations, and news pretty much guarantee that the online community won’t suffer the same fate as the software industry, where one company at least appears to control everything.

Charles Conn, co-founder and CEO of CitySearch, said, “With the Internet becoming a mass medium, compelling and original local information is an increasingly important category for users.”

All the more reason to make sure there’s more than one site out there doing it.


True speed

Kenwood has licensed technology from Zen Research for a 40x CD-ROM drive that’s scheduled to speed into stores this spring. The new technology, called TrueX, nearly doubles the speed of current CD-ROM drives, according to reports on the Internet.

Reports from ABC news say the Kenwood CD-ROMs are reportedly able to read data at a rate of six megabytes per second, 200 times faster than a 28.8 modem.

Opening Windows

Microsoft’s newest Windows operating system, Windows ’98, is scheduled for release in June.

Although there are no tremendous changes in this new version of the popular Windows ’95 system, Microsoft has added driver support for new technological advances like DVD, USB (Universal Serial Bus, which allows all computer peripherals to plug into the same type of port) and WebTV technologies.

Gates and company recently promoted the new operating system with a matinee screening at 45 U.S. movie theaters. The film, called “Microsoft Extreme!” was beamed via satellite and featured a few seconds of Gates, introducing Windows ’98 to the world.

Gates and company recently promoted the new operating system with a matinee screening at 45 U.S. movie theaters. The film, called “Microsoft Extreme!” was beamed via satellite and featured a few seconds of Gates, introducing Windows ’98 to the world.

James Hanback Jr. is systems administrator for the Scene. Call him at 244-7989, ext. 272, or e-mail him at


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