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Staying in touch on the Internet

By: Ann Summar

Date Posted: 1998-06-06

The Internet is drastically changing the world of communications. Whereas people once depended on written letters or telephone calls to keep in touch, new and inventive ways of communicating are now available to those who wish to use them. Some people avoid writing letters because of bad penmanship. Others do not make as many phone calls because of rising long distance costs. Now, more and more people are finding old high school and elementary school friends by using simple searches. Distant relatives are meeting for the first time. Family members who may have a hard time corresponding by snail mail or the telephone are now kept up-to-date on their lives and are improving their relationships with one another. Military members are finding people whom they may not have talked to since basic training. Long-lost loves are reuniting. Friendships are being continued across the miles and new ones are starting every day.

Email, home pages, chat rooms and tools, Internet phones, video conferencing and more are helping people from all walks of live stay connected. Who is to say what will be available in the years to come? Here’s a look at some of the ways Internet users stay connected to friends and family, whether they live a block away or around the world.

Electronic mail, more commonly known as email, is probably the most widely used communication tool available to people connected to the World Wide Web. Even the least technically inclined adults and children can send messages, images, files, and more to friends and family members with a few simple clicks. Those without an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can register for a free lifetime email address at Hotmail (www.hotmail.com), Yahoo! Mail (www.mail.yahoo.com), Excite (www.mailexcite.com), RocketMail (www.rocketmail.com), Juno (www.juno.com), and more. For a comprehensive listing of where you can obtain a free email account, try the Free Email Address Directory (www.emailaddresses.com). If you do not have access to the Internet, local libraries, including the Torii Station Library, often offer free ‘Net access to ID holders.

Personal home pages are also a valuable tool many people use to keep friends and family updated on their lives. Personal information, family photos, poems, images, original art, and resumes can be placed on a home page for your loved ones to peruse. Sites which offer free personal home pages include GeoCities (www.geocities.com), Angelfire (www.angelfire.com), Homestead (www.homestead.com), Tripod (www.tripod.com), and the Internet Club (www.internet-club.com). Most sites offer tutorials or simple instructions for helping users build their pages.

Now that you have a private email and maybe even a web page, the next step is to find those people you are hoping to correspond with and let them know you are online. There are a number of sites that will search the Internet to help you find their emails. Bigfoot (www.bigfoot.com), Four11 (www.four11.com), WhoWhere? (www.whowhere.com), PeopleSearch (www.w3.com/psearch/), and AnyWho (www.anywho.com) are all great sites that allow you to search by first and last name or city and state to find a specific person. Remember to register yourself as well, so you can be found when the time comes.

Next time, I will explain more about how to use the Internet to chat with friends, play games, talk over the phone, and use video conferencing to continue to stay in touch.

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