170 Intermind channels get, send info
- By Steve Graves
- Apr 14, 1997
Intermind polls all subscriber sites and updates material whenever Internet connections
are idle. Updates arrive as simple Hypertext Markup Language postcards or as hyperlinks to
Web sites with new information. Subscribers receive notices when publishers add or delete
topics or otherwise modify channels.
Government employees will appreciate the high premium Intermind places on privacy
and anonymity. Publishers don't have access to subscriber information such as names or
e-mail addresses. However, subscribers can voluntarily give such information through a
built-in feedback feature.
Intermind's privacy controls bar publishers from information about individual
accounts. But that doesn't mean Intermind employees themselves can't access the data. I
wouldn't advise transmitting sensitive agency data unencrypted through Intermind.
If your agency already has an intranet or Web server, Intermind makes it easy to
deliver custom Web content to specific audiences. If you don't have a server, Intermind's
iSite offers a free hosting service. It won't host entire sites, only your channel file.
Because of the persistent connection, you can maintain a constant presence on your
subscribers' desktops, sending out new material on a schedule or as needed.
A feedback feature encourages subscribers to make uncensored, anonymous comments and
This could be valuable for agency managers who truly want unvarnished reactions from
employees, because feedback systems that require identification tend to draw
Intermind supplies publishers with password-protected usage statistics and
demographics to help target their information to audiences and see how well their Web
presence is working. Click-throughs are recorded for statistics reports.
Intermind calls its push-publishing technology more personal, active and granular
than simple content delivery tools. But saying so doesn't necessarily make it so. Can push
publishing do anything agencies can't accomplish more simply with e-mail and a list
For the most part, no. List servers already provide most of the functions touted by
push-publishing companies like Intermind. Users can subscribe or unsubscribe freely to
mail lists and send anonymous suggestions.
Likewise, mail list publishers can choose to make their lists open and public or closed
and private. List owners and members can secure their communications with any number of
cheap, effective encryption programs.
Anyone who has ever participated in an Internet news group knows the strong sense of
community among list members. As for frank feedback, check out the messages that bombard
list owners who overstep their bounds or fail to provide adequate support.
There are even some things you can do with mailing lists that you can't do with
push-publishing systems. For example, a list owner could route documents or programs just
to a selected group of subscribers.
However, publishing with Intermind is easier and more efficient than managing e-mail
distribution lists and list servers. Intermind subscribers need only common browsers, and
channel publishers need no new Web server software.
Anyone can construct an Intermind channel in about an hour. With its cross-platform
support and light channel overhead, Intermind Communicator can reach audiences on
virtually any platform except Unix.
Those with limited disk space, processing power and connection speeds will applaud
these low-end requirements.
With password protection, agencies could use Intermind to limit access to specific
viewers or even charge for content if they wish.
One big drawback is that subscribers get to choose only from material already
selected for them by publishers.