It's only fitting that the very day that President Clinton signed the telecommunication bill into law, parts of which critics claim squelches online free speech, that 24 Hours in Cyberspace, would make its debut.
The site featured essays and photos from all parts of the world and linked thousands of people to a single Web site. As of late Friday, the site - which went "live" Thursday midnight - had nearly 22,000 people who had signed the "guestbook," and perhaps had attracted thousands more who didn't sign in.
Of those that signed on: 73% were men, 27% were women; 13% were under the age of 20, 37% were between 21 and 35 years old, 45% were between 36 and 59 years old, 3% were older than 60 years old.
Rick Smolan, creator of the Day in the Life series of photography books, had sent 100 photojournalists around the world to photograph people in places like South Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. Each photo is accompanied by a 500-word story and audio clips of interviews with the photographers about their experience
The stories and pictures covered a wide spectrum - from religion to smut. For example there was a photo essay about a Buddhist temple getting wired. "The Internet is a wonderful opportunity to propagate Buddha's teachings, not only in Japan but also to the world,'' a monk was quoted as saying.
On the other extreme was a story on "Dialing Up Safe Cybersex" about a dial-up service on the Net. Said one of the partners: "I don't do this because I like to be around naked women," he insists. "It's a business decision. A lot of people are afraid to enter this market because of the residual problems, legal, etc. But there's a lot of opportunity."
The "24 Hours in Cyberspace" site will taken off line Sunday. A permanent site will resurface in March.