Bytes

Net profits

As the Internet continues to expand at a phenomenal rate, with thousands of new sites launched on the World Wide Web every day, finding what you are looking for is becoming increasingly difficult. As a result, helping Net users to navigate their way around cyberspace is now a very big business.

Earlier this month the California-based search engine Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com) posted its first profit - well ahead of the Wall Street analysts' expectations - and its share price promptly soared. It hasn't stopped. If you had invested in Yahoo just before Christmas, you would have doubled your money by now.

Yahoo made its small ($96,000) profit from the advertising it displays on its pages, which it claims are viewed by more than 20 million people per day. Its advertising base of 550 companies includes the likes of Coca- Cola, the Ford Motor Company, Sony and Disney. Not bad for something that started out as a hobby by Yahoo's founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, while they were working towards their PhDs in electrical engineering at Stanford University in 1994.

Local knowledge

Hoping to emulate the Yahoo success story, Infoseek, another of the Net's leading search engines, last week teamed up with Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and London Evening Standard, to launch UK Plus (http://www. ukplus.co.uk), a guide to British Web sites.

The UK Plus directory has been compiled by a team of journalists who were given the task of trawling through the massive Infoseek database to find Web sites relevant to British Internet users.

One of the key features of UK Plus, according to Paul Zwillenberg, managing director of Associated Electronic Publishing, is its use of "the Queen's English". So if you search on the word "footie", you'll get a list of 155 UK football-related sites. Try it on an American search engine and you will be lucky to get any results.

Zwillenberg also said that UK Plus will make use of Web spiders to weed out dead sites and will exclude sites containing pornographic material.

Just imagine the headlines in The Express if some clever Webmaster manages to get a cyberporn site on to UK Plusn

Roger Ridey

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