Wired up: Finding Lost Friends

For the first time in history, you can now look up old friends in any part of the globe - even if you lost touch with them years ago. And while there's still no such thing as a complete email directory, there are plenty of places to try. If they're on the Web and have email, chances are you can find them.
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This is probably the email directory with the most comprehensive listings and, on balance, the best of the really powerful search engines. You'll discover early on that looking for people is a difficult business, and the best way is to give as much information as you can. Perhaps a reflection of its popularity, World Email does sometimes run with glacial slowness. The database lets you input not only the name of the person you're searching for, but any other relevant information, such as the country you think they're living in. It's amazing how often, even if it supplies you with half a dozen matches, you can find the person you're looking for. And even if you can't, it's perfectly OK to email the top candidates and ask if they're the right individual.




If World Email doesn't come up with the goods, it's a setback, but you'll quickly discover that no on-line directory is infallible or omnipotent. Your next possible stop should probably be Who Where, which is run by Lycos. A number of the major search engines have email search facilities but this is the best of the bunch by quite a margin. As well as holding a huge email database, it also gives you the opportunity of looking up phone numbers (in the US) and family trees. Most of these, however, are rather gimmicky and - indeed - fairly useless. Ultimately, even if you can't find the email address you're looking for, do register your own one, so your long- lost friends will know where to go if they ever start looking for you.


THE BEST OF THE REST people.yahoo.com HHH

Another highly regarded and useful email directory.

www.iaf.net HHH

This claims to be comprehensive, but it still doesn't perform as well as World Email. However it does have a very easy to use interface.

okra.ucr.edu/okra HH

Okra is run by a university in California and claims to have a database of five million names, although it suffers slightly from the same slow- running problem as World Email.

search.bigfoot.com HH

An easy to use and comprehensive search engine. It also has a kind of Blind Date-style page, with stories of Internet-arranged reunions.

usenet-addresses.mit.edu HH

Another email directory with a very simple interface which is hampered by the fact that it tends to throw hundreds of vaguely similar names at you and then leaves you to do the hard work of sorting them out.