This article was originally published in the March/April 1995 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online March/April 1995
The title of this editorial is probably recognizable to only a small percentage of Home Energy's readers, but after reading Home Energy on the Internet, (page 41), you can begin to understand a little more about what the so-called information superhighway currently offers to those involved in energy efficiency.
One shortcoming of the article is that it tries to describe a library that is doubling in size every couple of months. This means that slim pickings today may quickly be replaced with a wealth of information. We at Home Energy are doing our best to contribute to the wealth. The title of this editorial is in fact the address where a browser in the World Wide Web (WWW) can find articles from Home Energy, nicely formatted and almost as easy to read as in the paper version.
Is investing the time and money to enter the information superhighway worth it? Many people will waste a lot of time reading irrelevant, redundant, or just plain wrong information posted on the thousands of newsgroups and bulletin boards. (Worse, this is time usually spent not at work but at home, at night and on weekends.) Yet on-line sources can be invaluable if you find specific information sources and newsgroups you can regularly tap (or participate in) that help you solve problems you encounter every day. The signal-to-noise ratio of the information must be high. The Washington State Energy Office's Energy Ideas Clearinghouse is a step in the right direction, as is the recently-established listserv of building scientists.
At Home Energy, we regularly monitor a few Usenet newsgroups, such as misc.consumers.house to spot early consumer questions about new products or ideas. We gathered a lot of the early feedback on GreenPlug and FirstAlert from the net. At other times, we visit other newsgroups to collect more detailed information. One of my favorites is the rec.aquaria. Yes, the postings discuss fish tanks and the colorful creatures inside, but also the (energy-intensive) equipment necessary to keep them alive. We also scan various databases of periodicals for articles about new technologies. Some of the national laboratories involved in energy are beginning to post whole research reports directly on the Web. We expect to draw upon these resources to an ever-increasing extent.
In spite of the potential for congestion, Home Energy is moving along the Information Superhighway, but proceeding with caution. We can't predict if you will be among those who will find the World Wide Web, newsgroups, and the other elements of the Superhighway useful, but we encourage you to try it.
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