SURFING THE INTERNET COLUMN

Appearing in the August 1997 issue of

New England Entertainment Digest

by Larry Stark III   Copyright 1997, All Rights Reserved.

I have seen the future, and it's Not Working.

Try out this URL: http://boston.sidewalk.com/

That will get you the Home Page of "boston.sidewalk" which  intends to tell
you everything you wanted to know about entertaiment and recreation in the
Boston area, right there on your VDT screen. This site intends to maintain a
monstrous data-mountain about what's going on, and then to dole it out in
fairly broad categories in day-by-day lists of events.

Not only that, if you complete a survey of your personal tastes your own
preferences will be flashed to the top of the screen each time you check in
--- and you can get news about what most interests you flashed right to you
by e-mail if you'd wish. That's what they promise.

But if you check in, the first thing you'll see is that THEATER isn't
considered a major category. The closest they come is "Arts @ Music." Choose
that, and you get to choose from MUSIC CATEGORIES and ARTS CATEGORIES, which
are alphabetical. If you click on Theater and then click on the GO button,
finally there it is. There will be a list of "every production up and
running" for that day, and for each day in turn three months ahead. Great
news --- except for the exceptions.

The listings are a little odd. For instance, Boston is Boston, Cambridge is
Boston, Dorchester is Boston, Beverly is Boston --- but Somerville isn.t.
And, just to complicate things further, Williamstown and Stockbridge are
"Boston" but Cape Cod and Gloucester are not.

Of course, there is an alphabetical list titled "Concert Halls/Theatres"
that has 107 places on it. If you click on any one, you're given capsule
information of varying lengths, plus a choice of a list of nearby
restaurants, or a map. Restaurant lists are lengthy and complete. The maps,
however, are very sketchy and never include any public transportation
information. They can usually tell something about the local streets --- but
the map for the difficult to reach Publick Theatre [
http://boston.sidewalk.com/placestogo?
SID=752&SID=759&SID=763&NXT=1&FID=53 ] shows it between Commonwealth Avenue
and Cambridge Street in something like Allston, while the Charles River is
nowhere on the map.

They do have a letters-section for people who want to talk about Music/Arts
subjects, and there is an e-mail address for comments. I've used both, and I
suggest you do to.

Why spend my entire column this month on one ambitious but flawful web-site?
Well, because of this little note on the bottom-left of the opening page:

"copyright 1997
Microsoft and/or
its suppliers. All
rights reserved."

This  operation will soon be advertising itself as your one-stop source for
Everything You Want To Know about --- among many, many other things ---
Theater in Boston. But a glance at this copy of NEW ENGLAND ENTERTAINMENT
DIGEST or even my own Theater Mirror website will make it obvious that Bill
Gates and his suppliers still have a lot to learn. Maybe they're too proud to ask.

Love,
          ===Anon.
(a k a larrystark at http://www.theatermirror.com)