I predict that every radio station will be simulcast on the Internet.
You might say “Gee, Bob, that’s a no-brainer prediction.” I would say
you are correct. Let’s take it a step further; I will say that every
business that has a customer will someday have its own interactive radio
station on the Net.

Here’s a brief overview of the Internet functionality and features as
they have progressed.

When the Net was an infant, there was just text — text-based e-mail,
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to move files from one directory to
another. Then came newsgroups, a method of publishing your text to a
topical group. This was largely unorganized. Then came Gopher sites,
like websites today they were specific and presented information
published by government agencies, universities and organizations.
Thousands of computer hackers, computer-loving college students and just
about anyone else that enjoyed computers couldn’t resist the temptation
to connect their computers globally, publish information and opinions
around the world.

Publishing on the Net really began when Gopher sites became popular.
One would dig through information and hop from one Gopher site to
another. A surprising amount of information was available. The World
Health Organization posted loads of useful and interesting information.
Some savvy departments in the U.S. government had Gopher sites. Again,
it was all text based — you had to login to a Unix machine and type
your selections. There was a menu tree that moved you from one menu to
another until you found your information. But, it was still all straight
ASCII text. You didn’t click. Hence, it didn’t click, or catch on.

I’m told that my first Internet company actually ran the first
“commercial” Gopher search engine before the Web came along. It was
called Veronica. Some sharp guys at a Nevada University made it
possible. The problem with Gopher was that it wasn’t flashy enough. No
graphics and you had to dig around in numerical menu trees to find

Then came the Web with text graphics and a click of the mouse. Today,
we reach streaming video and audio servers via Web click selections.

Today, the Net has just reached a toddler-like stage — or, maybe
more like the “terrible twos” with all these Internet-company IPOs
jumping up and down yelling, “Me do it! Me do it!”

Now there are dozens of different ways to stream video and audio.
Software, hardware streaming technology-based Internet companies are
battling for position.

There is WebRadio.com
where you can locate and listen to Radio Stations from around the
country. Amazingly, without the need to download and install a plug-in.

Then there’s NetRadio.com. This is RealPlayer plug-in based. I
have pretty much given up on RealPlayer because I never seem to have the
latest version from one week to the next. Downloading a new version of
RealPlayer has always been such a hassle.

now owned by Yahoo, was the first real attempt at establishing an
Internet Broadcast network (by that I mean it was funded really well,
followed by a booming IPO).

A newer kid on the block is SHOUTcast where not just AM and FM radio stations can
be found, but, you can also find private Internet-only radio stations.
SHOUTcast listeners are required to download a new MP3 streaming player.
However, this player is free.
It downloads and installs easily and appears to seamlessly update
itself. These MP3 streams seem to be a bit bandwidth intensive. Unless
you have a 56K modem or better it’s difficult to get a dependable MP3
stream. But, if you have the speed, MP3 sound is nice.

One of the coolest streaming deals to hit the Net is Live365. If you
want to run your own radio station check out Live365.com. This too is MP3 based. However, the neat
twist is that you can download MP3 transmission software for your
Windows machine and start your own Internet radio station. Live365
allows you to bounce to their streaming server farm to establish an
Internet distribution feed. All at NO COST! This means you use your 56K
modem to send a single stream to a server that acts as a repeater to
handle the possible hundreds of listeners from around the world.

Now lets put this all together. The Net started as text, then came
the pictures, a little bit of sound was added to Web pages, better
hardware, more fiber, more bandwidth, more speed via DSL and Cable Modem
technology. We already have FREE streaming audio transmission software.
The Net is still just a toddler; the teenage years are just around the
corner. It’s just a simple matter of time before all these websites
around the world start turning into interactive radio and TV stations.
Now who is it that was going to bring you “5,000” channels again, the
cable companies, the satellite companies or the Internet companies? My
guess is all of the above — that is, as long as they are all connected
through the Internet.

If you have found some interesting streaming technology or streaming
sites that you enjoy, zap me an e-mail. Love to hear about
it. This streaming stuff is moving fast.

Last week’s column generated a great of response. I was truly
interested and took the time to read them all. (Can’t always respond to
all of them).

I talked about obnoxious telephone polltakers, some technology
techniques they implement and how to manipulate them. I also voiced my
opinion and suggested that polls should be taken over the Internet. I
have included bits of reader responses (“voices”) here:

Bill or Shon @ prodigy.net

One would think that pollsters would want to do web-base polls that
require pre-registration. That way they wouldn’t have to spend time
(man-hours) asking the same background information over and over again.
With pre-registration, they could add validity to their results by
preventing someone from repeatedly going to a Web page and voting in the
poll multiple times and get a larger number of people sampled to base
their results.

Greg @ mgfairfax.rr.com

Yes, its a good thing. I’ve read enough about it to satisfy my own
concerns about statistical validity. Such polls can be made to be
statistically valid. With care taken to maintain validity, I think that
Internet polling is the current best way to go.

Floyd @ netzero.net

Harris and another company e-mail me about weekly asking if I want
to take part in a poll. If I think it sounds interesting, I might
partake. They offer random prizes to encourage involvement. This is the
future. People will be polled who want to be polled; if not, it’s not
too hard to delete an e-mail message.

Jean @ telus.net

Personally I love Internet polls; they are fast, concise and they
amuse me. Regarding those intrusive telephone calls (which are really,
really irritating), I have call display and it usually says
“unavailable,” so, I pick up the phone and say, “No one is available
right now. Would you care to leave a message?” That is the end of it;
they appear to leave me alone after my little ploy.

Vincent @ ricochet.net

When I first saw Vote.com last night, it occurred to me that this
technology has the potential to remove that type of middleman also.
After reading this article on the Drudge Report about Vote.com I went to Vote.com and
checked it out. In the days before the Internet, the logistics of mass
voting on every little issue would have been impossible. However, now
with the Internet, the technology brings it within the possible for all
citizens to vote on the myriad of little issues that come up. So in
conclusion, the answer to the question, “Net polls, do they mean
anything?” is “Yes.” They are the first glimpse of a shift to a purer
form of democracy.

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