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Oh, what newfangled Webs we need...

image: Departments headerSince 1993, the Magazine has done a reader survey after each February issue. Besides asking readers what they think of that issue in particular and of the Magazine in general, we include questions about other topics of interest to us and the Alumni Association. The first time we asked about Internet usage was in 1995, when 36.9 percent of the respondents (54.5 percent of alumni age 35 or younger) said they were on the Web. Last year, 73.6 percent were (100 percent of those 35 or younger). This year may be the last time we ask--it can safely be assumed that everyone is wired.

As an aging Baby Boomer, I compare my Internet usage to that of my 15-year-old and know Iím far behind. I donít enter chat rooms or have multiple e-mail accounts. I donít listen to CD snippets on line. But a day that doesnít bring lots of e-mails--with photos, layouts, or memos attached--is like a day when snail mail brings only circulars and bills.

image: December 1999 Magazine on the WebIf youíre like the Magazine staff, the nationís reference librarians are fast learning the loneliness of the Maytag repairman. Rather than call the library, we go to the Web. My bookmarked sites say it all: Academe Today, Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, the New York Times on the Web, Find a Person, Infoseek, FedEx Tracking, Amazon.com, the Internet Movie Database. And the U of C Libraryís electronic reference page (www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/db/ref).

The transition from real world to e-world isnít without foul-ups. Writing the above paragraph, I clicked my mouse, ready to copy my list of bookmarks. No such luck. The computer froze--not once, but twice. Caught in the Internetís information overload, I sometimes turn from computer to dog-eared Rolodex, call the reference librarian, and get help the pre-Web way, contentedly listening to classical music when placed on hold.

Nevertheless the Web is here to stay, and the Magazine and the Alumni Associationís Web sites have recently reinvented themselves to make information easier to find. Thanks to Web Designer Joy Miller and Associate Editor Kim Sweet, the Magazineís Web site (www.alumni.uchicago.edu/magazine) has a new look and more user-friendly features. If thereís something that would make the Web site more useful for you, please let us know (uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu).

Joy has also helped the Alumni Gateway (www.alumni.uchicago.edu/Gateway/) get a new look and new services--including a password-protected online alumni directory. To use it, all you need is the URL (alumnidirectory.uchicago.edu) and your ID number--conveniently enough, itís the number above your name on the Magazineís mailing label.


LETTERS APOLOGY. A number of people objected to our decision to publish one particular letter in the October/99 issue. Written by two alumni, the letter--which we entitled ďHolocaust as political industryĒ--prompted many responses, including phone calls, e-mails, and faxes from a dozen alumni. Four of these letters were published in the December/99 issue (www.alumni.uchicago.edu/magazine/9912/departments/letters.html).

Choosing to publish the letter was a difficult decision. Generally, when the opinions expressed in letters are controversial, it is our policy to err on the side of free speech. In adhering to that policy, however, we in no way desire to print letters that promote, either overtly or in coded language, negative and hurtful stereotypes. Clearly, this letter failed that test. We erred, and we apologize.
--M.R.Y.

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