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Surf the cyberspace: take advantage of online access.

You might not be a cyberpunk or cybernaut, but the day will soon arrive when you'll have to venture into the labyrinths of cyberspace. Rest assured, you won't be alone.

Many African-Americans have started setting up way stations on the electronic superhighway, where information on social issues, carrers, business opportunities and more is shared. So get online!

There are three ways to get online if you have a computer, telephone and a modem; electronic bulletin board systems (BBSs), online services and the Internet (see this month's Techwatch) BBSs are run by individual users known as moderators" or "list owners," and can be set up from any desktop computer. Commercial online systems such as CompuServe, America Online and Prodigy open a cornucopia of news reports, libraries and travel services. All online service roads lead to the grandfather if cyberspace--the Internet.

With this vast window of communication comes a wealth of information. "I got online to promote my travel publication business,: says Linda Cousins, educator and publisher of the Universal AfrICAN Writer Press. "While online, I also found information I was able to share with my high school and adult education students."

During the seven months that Cousins has been online, she's met another black woman publisher who introduced her to several book clubs for black women. Since December, Cousins has also been providing information with her own electronic newsletter, "The Cultural Traveler, which is available through America Online.

Communication isn't limited to one-on-one E-mail correspondence. "Forums" are picking up speed in cyberspace. Sometimes called SIGs (special interest groups), these interactive salons are set up for interesting debate, discussion and networking. Some of the African-American forums available have five or more people discussing everything from black hair to black history. Participants can even break off from the group and open a "room" for private discussion.

Although these forums are usually operated by and cover topics affecting African-Americans, they are open to all. And occasionally problems arise. "Since you cannot see who you're chatting with, there's no guarantee that everyone is black," notes Ronald David Jackson, vice president of marketing for the Multiple Media Marketing Group in New York. "There are forums for blacks on black issues where everyone is white." So use your intuition. Before joining a forum, observe and get a feel for what's being said.

Although forum participants are expected to respect the opinions of all, some don't. Racism seeps into some discussions, but it doesn't negate the benefits of taking part in one of the many thousands of forums available.

Besides networking, you can use your online access to advance in your career or enhance your business. Jackson has been online for four years and says it's "the most valuable addition to our toolbox."

To aid his clients, Jackson has been able to tap into market research on various forms of advertising, such as outdoor billboards, bus shelter ads and television commercials. What would have once taken months to obtain now take him only 10 minutes online.

In an effort to entice customers, online companies usually allow potential subscribers to try out their service for five to 10 hours at no charge. If you're just starting out, take advantage of this perk to determine which service is the best one for you.


A girl is watching. What is she learning?

If you're the parent of a young girl between the ages of nine and 15, bring her along to the office with you on Thursday, April 27. That's the date of the third annual Take Our Daughters To Work Day. Sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women, the program's theme will be, "A Girl Is Watching. What Is She Learning?"

For more information regarding the program, or to order special Take Our Daughters to Work merchandise, call 800-676-7780.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Black people talking online
Author:Sabir, Nadirah
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Apr 1, 1995
Previous Article:The Perfect Memo! Write Your Way to Career Success!
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