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Off The Cuff

Leaders in the world of business share their thoughts on the way wework, spend, and prepare for the future.

The whole world is going online it seems. And Charles Ardai, president of Juno Online Services, stands ready to sign them up. The world's first free e-mail service, started in 1996, now offers Internet access for a fee, and soon plans more expensive broadband service.

Mr. Ardai shared his thoughts on what's driving people online and his vision of what they'll do there in 10 years with staff writer Eric Evarts.

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In the Internet world we're very insular. Everybody we know is on the Web. But there are still tens of millions of people, in this country alone, who are not. It's your dad, your brother, your cousin, your co-worker, your friend from college.

"Selling people on the Internet is not the hard job. Society does that for us. It happens when you meet somebody and they say, 'What's your e-mail address?' Or when you have a party and you tell people, 'Directions are on my Web page.'

"So it's not a problem getting people on the Web. You just have to make it easy for them.

"That's what we're hearing from our users. They don't want to have to fight with the technology to get on the Internet. They want an appliance that's as easy to use as a telephone, or a dishwasher, or an ATM at the bank.

"Many people now have Internet access at the office. But once they really start using the Internet, people want it at home, too.

"There are personal things you can't or don't want to do at work. And some companies have rules about using the Internet for personal matters.

"Another thing people will want is to be able to access all their files or data from anywhere. So if you write a document at home and you want to edit it when you're at work, now you can't, because it's on your hard drive at home.

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"With new technology, you'll be able to get it on your computer at work, on your cell phone, if you have a Palm organizer you can get it there, or on your pager.

"What we can expect is the technology will keep getting faster. And as it keeps getting faster, people will come up with new ways to use it. As modem speeds increase from 50K today to 500K, and eventually to 5,000K, people won't just be reading Web pages and sending e-mail faster. We think video will flourish.

"This could be video on demand, it could be interactive video entertainment, it could be video communication (which has been promised for 40 years), or it could be something entirely new that no one's thought of yet."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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