Update: 30 September 1996

This web site, "New Tools for Teaching", is almost as old as Netscape. It came on-line in November 1994 and has remained in use only very lightly modified since. Things change so fast in cyberspace, you'd think it would be dead as a dinosaur by now, but over 2,000 people a month have come to read this first page at least every single month since it went up. (More people than have ever showed signs of any interest in any of my print publications, but that's another story.)

And in fact, the site is not out of date. Everything here that worked then still works, though most gopher sites have contracted and few people use the software any more -- but any sites that still work can be reached through WWW browsers. There are a lot of bells and whistles, especially on web browsers, and thinks dance and blink and flash a lot more than they used to. Modest progress has been made in bringing action video to the network screen, and rather more progress in live audio.

But this site was dedicated to real-world technologies that can be broadly accessed and used without a lot of fancy support and add-ons, and at that level, the options are still strikingly about what they were. A lot more people know about them, but the curve of newcomers arriving is still incredibly steep and will remain so for sometime. Supply has begun to chase demand, and you don't get crowds just by showing off a web site now; but on the other hand, if you want to find an airline or a hotel chain or a white pages phone number in North America, the WWW is now becoming an ordinary everyday place of getting fundamental useful information.

I will immodestly mention one other sign of the times. In March 1996, the creator of this site, who likes to think of himself as a plain old country classics professor from west Texas, was asked to serve as interim Vice Provost for Information Systems and Computing at the University of Pennsylvania, and at this writing he remains in that job, still interim but hoping to be made more permanent. Leaving the particulars of the case out of consideration, one interpretation of some interest would claim that the point at which the position of CIO can at all plausibly be done by someone who comes to the job from the user community and without a career of technical training may be upon us and may mark an important moment in the domestication and naturalization of networked information technologies in all our lives. And that would be a real, and important, change in the way we live and work.