by Diane Minor
Some human networking during the Beijing women's conference is leading to more computer networking at NOW. We entered the information age on Susan B. Anthony's birthday nearly a year ago by setting up both an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and a home page on the World Wide Web.
NOW's web site, http://www.now.org/, is a hit. It's the place where people surfing the Net can find NOW's latest news releases and legislative updates, as well as background documents. Because so many people on the Net do not have high-speed computers capable of transmitting complex graphics and photos, our page caters to them by keeping its design simple and easy to use.
NOW's home page has received kudos from progressive web site watch groups and Point Survey. Major on-line players like America On-Line and Apple's Web Site point to our page, as does Babes on the Web. And our web page has been mentioned in publications as different as The Washington Post and the lesser-known, but well-regarded progressive magazine Common Boundary.
An average of 50,000 times a month someone is looking at our page, and they harken from at least 10,000 different sites. They can dig deeper based on links from our page to other sources. Or they can, and do, send us e-mail.
The dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of e-mail messages that come in to NOW are not yet redirected to NOW staff by computer, because so few of our computers are linked. Instead, staff members receive printouts of e-mail messages and respond to them in writing or on disk. Then one staff member uploads all of the replies to the Internet. This slows NOW's e-mail response rate considerably, but we are moving in a faster direction with the installation of the first local area computer network (LAN) at the NOW Action Center. The network will initially link more than a dozen computers and will be expanded as we are able.
The planning and implementation of the LAN were the result of an informal but important contact NOW National Secretary Karen Johnson made at the U.N. World Conference on Women in Beijing. This new friend of NOW, Lorian Lipton, is a network architect who personally contributed the network software, in addition to her considerable expertise, and arranged the donation of a 48-user hub to the NOW Foundation from Hewlett-Packard.
Ultimately NOW's LAN will facilitate our more effective communication on the wide area network (WAN) better known as the "information superhighway." Johnson notes that NOW's expanded computer power coincides with women's increasing involvement on-line. She cites a news report that women's participation climbed from about 20 percent of on-line activity early in 1995 to about 33 percent late in the year.
If you can help with our communication expansion by donating a 386 or higher computer, or a fax machine, please contact Toni Stroud at our e-mail address above, or call 202-628-8669.