For all the hype it’s gotten lately, communicating on the computer can be kind of confusing. ”Through the swamp,” is how Michael Wolff describes navigating the myriad discussion groups, news groups, and mailing lists that exist in computer cyberspace. ”People are always trying to figure out where everything is.” But now, thanks to Wolff and friends, the cyber-swamp may just have become a little less murky.
In January, Wolff’s company — an information packager in New York City — published the Net Guide, an easy-to-use TV Guide for the Net that tells you what’s playing in the datasphere and how to get plugged in. Despite its 4,000 entries, the book isn’t comprehensive: There are more than 10,000 forums and mailing lists on the Net, a rapidly expanding universe composed of the federally founded Internet and private companies like America Online, CompuServe, and Prodigy. But the Net Guide does provide readers with some of the more entertaining offerings out there. So, whether you’re a Seinfeld fan or a Babylon 5 watcher, a spelunker, a Smashing Pumpkins listener, a supermodel enthusiast, a Harley collector, a connoisseur of women’s legs, a Bosox fan, a pot smoker, a lemur lover, or a Rush Limbaugh disciple, Wolff’s book will ”put you in touch with people who have the same obsessive, and often stupid, interest as you.”
And the next stop on the electronic highway? Says Wolff, ”We and several others are working on something like an on-line valet that will go into the Net, hunt down the specific information you want, and bring it back to you, instead of you having to find it yourself.”