21st Log: R.I.P., Netly News, 1995-1998

Published September 29, 1998 7:00PM (EDT)

R.I.P., Netly News, 1995-1998

The Netly News, Time Warner's 3-year-old experiment in informal Web journalism, is gone as of today. What was once Netly (temporarily still available at this address) is now a new site called Time Digital Daily.

Netly producer Lev Grossman says the rationale for the change is simple: "Netly has to make more money. For a long time it's been playing to a niche-y, insider-y new media audience that we desperately love, and demographically belong to ourselves. But now we need to attract a wider audience to build traffic."

Time Digital Daily will deliver less of Netly's old "intelligent, critical, attitudinous voice" and aim more at "the Time audience," with a focus on "personal technology" gadgets and gaming as well as Netly's old Internet beat, Grossman says.

The transmutation into Time Digital Daily -- which will employ nearly all of the current Netly News staff -- will allow the Web site to draw on the resources of Time Digital, a print magazine that appears eight to 10 times a year, and to promote itself via that print partnership, Grossman adds.

First launched by Josh Quittner and Noah Robischon in November 1995, the Netly News ran daily news and commentary on Internet issues in a style that was decidedly cheekier and more playful than the norm elsewhere on Time Warner's Pathfinder mega-site. When Robischon left last spring to join the staff of Brill's Content, Netly was revamped to feature several shorter items each day.

Now all that's left of the Netly News name and brand is a tiny line of type on the Time Digital Daily masthead that reads: "Formerly The Netly News."
-- Scott Rosenberg
SALON | Oct. 1, 1998

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A $1,000 conference on free software

Athousand bucks isn't an utterly outlandish price for well-heeled Webmasters to cough up to attend a tech conference. That's the cost of a ticket to ApacheCon '98, the first-ever conference for users and developers of the popular Apache webserver program, which begins Oct. 14 and features addresses by science fiction author Bruce Sterling and Yahoo co-founder David Filo.

Apache isn't any old piece of corporate software, though -- it just happens to be one of the most successful flag-bearers for the free software/open source movement. And the debut of a big-ticket Apache conference is as good an indication as any that "free software" solutions to real-world computing problems can still run up a healthy bill.

Freedom, in the world of free software, means the freedom to modify or change code as one sees fit. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with charging what the market will bear for free-software-related services. As Apache group member Dean Gaudet notes, "It's not like there are free conference halls, and free conference promoting companies."

In June, IBM announced that it would start bundling Apache into its WebSphere line of application servers and software. The arrival of ApacheCon is yet one more signal that the free software movement is quite at home in the world of corporate computing.
-- Andrew Leonard
SALON | Oct. 1, 1998

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Linux rising

Linux, the free-software operating system beloved by a swelling mass of geeks, is all over the news right now. This week, Linux distributor Red Hat Software won investments by both Intel and Netscape. Both Oracle and Informix have recently announced that their corporate database software will be distributed in versions that run on the Linux platform. And tech publisher IDG plans to launch both a new Web magazine and a new industry conference dedicated to Linux.

Want to know what all the fuss is about? Andrew Leonard's article in 21st earlier this year, "The little operating system that could," offers a complete portrait of Linux -- how it became so popular and what its chances are of challenging Microsoft for "world domination."
SALON | Oct. 1, 1998

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An indecent proposal

"You say you're both so busy you have to date in cyberspace?" asks a recent Value America advertisement hawking scanners. "Get serious: Propose online. The ImageReader RealScan TM makes it easy. This ingenious device can scan small 3-D objects (like a diamond engagement ring), achieving amazing clarity up to eight inches away from the scan platform."

It is well established that technology can facilitate, or at least put a new spin on, love in the '90s, but Value America could be taking things too far.

You have to wonder -- what sort of gizmo-crazed geek forgoes a candlelit dinner, roses and the chance to have someone stare back into his eyes and say, "I do," and opts to use his nifty $129.99 scanner, e-mail software and T-1 line to do the trick? What's next? HoneymoonCam? Consummate your marriage without the inconvenience of being in the same bed!

Value America may be unaware of how loopy its proposed new scanner application is. Or perhaps the company is just taking a misguided stab at irony. Either way, the romantically wired can take comfort in knowing that "Value America is always looking out for your happiness -- we've even got the ring at a great price!"

Here's hoping they've got an online psychotherapist to comfort the would-be groom when "You've got mail" becomes synonymous with "You got dumped!"

By Jenn Shreve

Jenn Shreve writes about media, technology and culture for Salon, Wired, the Industry Standard, the San Francisco Examiner and elsewhere. She lives in Oakland, Calif.

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