Interative Web soap attemp to hit 'The Spot'

Jan. 21, 1996


Soap operas have been a staple of the entertainment industry since the early days of radio and later, television. And it's only natural for this genre to make the transition to the fastest growing information and entertainment media Ï the Internet.

Enter The Spot.

The Spot was touted as "the first episodic Web site'' when it debuted in June. Since then, the Spot World-Wide Web site has proven to be very popular, earning the coveted "Cool Site of the Day'' honors on its second day online. The Spot also was named the "Cool Site of the Year.''

The Spot takes its cues from MTV's "Real World,'' as well as "Melrose Place'' and "Beverly Hills 90210.'' Seven twentysomethings are thrown together to live in a beach house in Southern California.

Each of the seven keep diaries of their actions -- and interactions -- with their Spotmates, leaving Web surfers a chance to play the part of the ultimate voyeur.

The diaries contain what each is doing; you get to read about the parties, the romances, the fights -- the Spot collective even attended the Consumer Electronics Show in December, according to their diary entries.

Of course, Spot characters and their well-documented exploits are complete fiction. The site was created and maintained by Fattal & Collins, an advertising company in California.

The Spot members not only write in their journals, but also respond to the journal entries that are written by their Spot mates. That is, until two or more of them agree to an I-won't-read-yours-if-you-won't-read-mine truce (but who believes a roommate?).

While we are all familiar with the episodic nature of television soaps, The Spot goes one better.

Each Spotmate has an e-mail address, and visitors are encouraged to send comments to their favorite character.

There's nothing at The Spot that will improve your computer, the quality of your life or the amount of money you make in one year. But as far as sites to enjoy on the World-Wide Web, it is at least entertaining.

To keep Spot devotees informed with up-to-date info, there's SpotGate, which is a monthly synopsis of what's happened at The Spot.

Be forewarned that The Spot is a very graphic-intensive Web site Ï meaning all the nice pictures and pretty gee-gaws take considerable time to download to your screen. But in the end, its all worth it, or so they hope.

NOTHING BUT NET. On-line computing has a language all its own, a language made up of acronyms that leave a lot of newbits (net-speak for newcomer) dazed and confused.

Here are some terms you'll likely encounter on-line, either on one of the services or on the Internet. As always, feel free to e-mail your contributions for Net Slang of the Week.

* BRB: Be right back

* BTW: By the way

* F2F: face to face

* FOAF: Friend of a friend

* IMHO: In my humble opinion

* IRL: In real life

* L8R: later

* LDR: Long-distance relationship

* MorF?: Male or female?

* ROTFL: Rolling on the floor laughing

* TLA: Three-letter acronym

NETSCAPE. Netscape Communications, the company that attracted attention when its public stock offering sent its value through the roof, has released a new beta version of its Web browsing software.

The version is 2.0 beta 5, and according to Netscape, is a significant upgrade from previous beta versions.

A "beta'' version of software means it is one that is still undergoing testing. Mainly, thousands of Web surfers are using the new web browser, as Netscape provides rewards for major bugs reported.

The policy has its critics. Some claim the software's development should be completed prior to its release. However, by allowing beta versions to be downloaded over the Net, Netscape can get the software in wide circulation, and determine early-on potential problems and most importantly, build a large base for the software that it will be selling.

TVNET. If you are a baby boomer and grew up with some of the classic television shows of the 1950s and '60s, there's a depository for information on the Internet that can lead you to information about most any TV show produced.

TVNet's main thrust is the current state of television affairs, from listings to the latest in technology. They also list hundreds of links to other places on the Internet for information on current and past TV shows. In minutes, the TVNet listing sent me to a Web site about two childhood favorite shows, "Fireball XL-5'' and "Stingray'' (not the NBC series from 1986-87).

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to, or visit on the World Wide Web.

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