Why we went wall-to-wall Web
We'd like to take credit for the thematic alignment of the stories in this week's section. But the fact is, most of it just ... happened.
And that's saying something.
You already know that there's an Internet component to pretty much every facet of life today.
You can burrow into one Web site or another - after checking its credentials - and haul up reliable minutiae about whatever shadowy notion you'd care to probe.
You may also already conduct some of the real business of life from your desktop - or from a hand-held, wireless device.
The stories on the next several pages explore the use of the Web to influence corporations, shop for the holidays, find a new job, and track people down.
One piece looks at the broader implications for business of the Web's ballooning use.
The online population of the United States is now estimated to be 100 million adults, according to the Washington-based Strategis Group. Increasing public access to the Internet - through cybercafes, kiosks, libraries - keeps wearing down the idea of a techno elite.
New programs, including one for kids that's run by the National Basketball Association, build Web awareness in lower-income areas.
Life by Web? Eventually, in some form. The mainstreaming of the medium is picking up abroad, though it's not yet the take-no-prisoners proposition it is for United States Web ventures.
Clearly, we're nearing a comfort zone. To secure the Web's role in daily life, for example, tech firms make Web "appliances" as friendly as toasters (see page 12).
Full integration of the Web into our lives may depend on whether our demands for quality match our craving for convenience.
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