By Kimberly Miller
Reprinted from the Arizona Summer Wildcat
One of the many concerns voiced by new students and their parents as they are introduced to the UA is that it's too big, too impersonal and too easy to become lost in the shuffle.
But as technology advances it is not only possible to become more familiar with individual UA departments but also see photos from sophomore Christopher Macabuhay's Spring Break.
All without straying from your computer terminal. Macabuhay is one of 93 UA students and 33 faculty who have become more than just an ID number in the depths of UA cyberspace by creating his own personal "home page" on the World Wide Web. With UAInfo, the university's link to the Web, students, faculty and staff have the ability to share just about anything with the entire world through their home pages.
"People put anything and everything on their home pages: neat cartoons, favorite pieces of music and even resumes," said Dick Bakkerud, an adjunct journalism professor who teaches a course in news technologies.
Someone not familiar with using the World Wide Web may feel a little guilty about peeking into a "home page" where a person's most intimate thoughts may be laid out for everyone to read.
Macabuhay said, however, that people who put personal information on their home pages know its availability.
"That's basically what home pages are for," Macabuhay said. "So people can get an insight into my life."
In fact, surfing the Net was how he met his girlfriend, who lives in Texas.
"We met in August and we finally saw each other in person in April when she came out to visit me for Spring Break," Macabuhay said. "Some people think meeting someone over the Internet is taboo, but most people I know think it's OK."
UAInfo was established about a year ago with the help of Brett Bendickson, a Management Information Systems junior.
Bendickson, who works for CCIT, said currently about 100 UA departments and clubs are on-line and, with a click of the mouse, detailed information about all of them are at the fingertips of any Internet user.
Bendickson said he would eventually like to see everything offered at the UA with its own home page, but, with a part-time staff of only seven, he has his work cut out for him.
University informational home pages are nothing new - more than 1,300 exist worldwide. Bendickson said some UA departments are slow to come on-line because of a lack of knowledge on how to set things up.
"Our goal is to get every department and club on-line," he said. "There are some departments that are not necessarily resisting this technology, but they aren't exactly eager to do it. It's another new thing and finding a chunk of time to learn it and work on it isn't always easy."
As more and more universities and departments come on-line, the pressures to compete in recruiting students increase the importance of using home pages.
Karen Warren, the chair of the UAInfo Advisory Board, said student and departmental home pages help break down the communication barriers that many large universities struggle with.
"I think the more we can communicate with each other, the better the world is. This is truly one of the most remarkable things I have ever worked on," Warren said.
Like with any new technology, concerns are being raised about people who may abuse UAInfo, putting profanity or pornography on their home pages.
Warren said the problem with policing home pages is that they are constantly changing and someone would have to screen each one individually.
"It would be impossible to monitor people's pages," Warren said. "We've been aware that we need to guide people but we don't want to be censors. That's just not our job."
Bendickson has set up a list of guidelines that potential "home page" creators must agree to abide by when setting up their page. They include rules concerning copyright laws and the UA's Student Code of Conduct.
"In essence what we're doing is letting all other UA policies govern our World Wide Web pages," Bendickson said. "What it boils down to is that it's your page and a reflection of you. It's really just a matter of good manners.
One way to combat the misuse of UAInfo is education. Bendickson said some courses at the UA require students to create home pages as a class project.
Bakkerud's course about directions in news technologies includes creating a home page as a final project. He said the class teaches important information to help students utilize advanced computer technologies.
"I think relatively few people are aware of this technology right now," Bakkerud said. "But it's growing so fast that in five years it's going to be commonplace. It's just another medium for students to communicate."
The price for setting up a personal home page is included in every student's tuition. The UA gives one megabyte of disk space to students and faculty through its general access system, GAS. To create home pages which require more disk space, users can go through HACKS, roote@neuromancer-.hacks.arizona.edu., a student-run organization that offers three megabytes for $10 a semester.
To access UAInfo on a personal computer you need a modem and a communications software package that can be purchased from CCIT or an outside business.
For computer-phobic people who may be hesitant aboutcreating their own home page, Macabuhay's cousin, Dennis Narciso, said anyone can learn.
"I always wonder how I know all this stuff about the Web when I'm a history major," Narciso said.
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