Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine / Volume 1, Number 7 / November 1, 1994 / Page 3

Exploring the Web Off-Line at the Second International Web Conference

by Tove Forgo (

CHICAGO (October 17-20) The 2nd International World Wide Web Conference exceeded expectations with 1,300 people attending and hundreds turned away. The Web's phenomenal growth showed itself in the diversity of participant's disciplines ranging from the arts to sciences. New Web administrators attended to get advice on managing their new information servers. But technical issues such as networking protocols and standards took a back seat to the content issues. Providers' concerns focused on information retrieval, presentation, and use. Searching methods, agents, authoring tools, human-computer interaction, evolving interfaces and wide-area collaboration accounted for eight of the forty seven sessions offered during the two conference days. The other two days were devoted to tutorials and developer sessions.

Despite an increasing mainstream corporate presence (General Electric and AT & T recently announced their home pages), commercial commitment are expected to remain limited until transactions become more secure and more widely accepted. Some speakers speculated on the development of Web commerce while others offered solutions. David Chaum of DigiCash(tm) announced the release of version 2.0 of ecash, an electronic "cyber-buck" redeemable at a growing number of Web sites. Other companies presented solutions that work with current technology and norms. The Electronic Newstand's magazine publishing clients use their Web sites to promote paper-based subscriptions by previewing the table of contents or an upcoming article.

Topical sessions spanned many disciplines yet often dealt with similar issues. These included: building interactive applications for information retrieval (used for self-guided study or systems training); electronic publishing using HTML while abiding by copyright laws; collaborative work methods; incorporating real-time data; and evaluating benefits. Of course, people measure benefits differently. Larry Smarr, Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the birthplace of the Mosaic client interface application to the Web, said that the Web may not mean the elimination of illiteracy or spread democracy far and wide, but it certainly is something that is going to affect everyone--the Web is making history. ¤

Tove Forgo is a candidate for a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Science in Industrial and Management Engineering, concentrating in Information Systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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