Have You Seen My Missing Marathon?

by Ric Erickson

Number 1.09 - Metropole Paris, Friday, 19. April 1996:- Today's weekly Multimedia section of the Paris daily Libération, which I read every Friday, is especially interesting this week.

The lead feature is about 'Netjunkies' or 'Webaholics' and the article claims there are 200,000 of these in the USA. Apparently there are people who live and breathe and even dream about the World Wide Web. Some of them might be you, reading this right now, and I suppose I should say I hope so - but, unless you are really interested in our little corner of Paris, I hope you manage to escape this additional source of the torrent of information that is definitely not good for your brain - nor mine either.

Another feature in this Multimedia section, is a nicely illustrated piece about how modern editorial structures function. I can't help comparing it to how Metropole's editorial 'structure' functions - where all functions are divided by two people. In a sort of megalomanic frenzy, I am editor, chief reporter, illustrator, photographer, researcher, leader writer and legman; uniting in one person Libération's first three major functions, while art director and server-driver wizard Tony Grant takes care of page make-up, coding details and keeps the server online - the artistic, technical production and distribution functions, in other words.

If we were not just a tiny little bit under-capitalised, we two would be more bodies; certainly more journalists and photographers and illustrators - because we have a subject that is, frankly, too big for just the two of us.

For example, I read or saw somewhere - a week ago? - that the annual Paris Marathon is running Sunday, 21. April - and although I've noted it on a scrap of paper that is here somewhere, I forgot all about it - and, in several excursions to the city, have seen no publicity for it whatsoever.

In Libération, I found a brief note that says the newspaper Le Parisien has a web site - dedicated to Sunday's marathon (that's what started me on this theme), and I checked it and it does exist. I have really only skimmed today's Le Parisien, so I went back to it and I must be blind ('Webaholic?') or something, but after turning it from back to front and front to back - I cannot find one word about Sunday's marathon, nor any mention that Le Parisien even has a web site - the only thing remotely like it is a Minitel access code. (It is possible I do not have the correct 'city' edition.)

The reason I mentioned all my functions above was not to boast - but to suggest that I don't have time to be a 'Netjunkie' and besides, I am already buried under a high vertical column of information. In this issue I have been writing about other forms of addiction - water drinking (hydraulics?), low-level gambling (lotoaholics?) and being the fan of a hopeless football club (footaholics?) - so I guess a new addiction, to the Web, cannot be too unusual and no surprise.

Then, from beyond this morass, reader Dana Shaw writes to remind me that I am spending too much time on the Champs-Elysées - and I know he is right - it is the 'public' stage there, over-aided by a non-stop barrage of publicity, and Mr Shaw suggests that I go take a look at some tiny, almost obscure street - and I do - and with the aid of a book I have here, summarize the 2000-year history of it 'in fifty words or less!' - which takes... 90 minutes. From 00:30 to 02:00 in the morning.

The main point is - I had to physically go and look at the real street, in real light, and see the real colors with my real eyes. No matter how far technology advances, there is simply no substitute for real experience - you can't get it second-hand. I'm not so sure getting it on the Web is even second-best, but I'll keep at and maybe it'll get better.

For reasons like this, I appreciate Metropole readers, the Parisian newspapers, Libération and Le Parisien; but together they are the reason I do not have much time to 'surf' much less swim marathons, on the Web - Metropole's Web.

This week's links:

Libération : http://www.liberation.fr/
Le Parisien : http://www.leparisien.fr/accueil.htm
Le Parisien in English : http://www.leparisien.fr/GB/accueil.htm
Amnesty Int'l in French : http://amnistie.qu.ca/
FUAJ - United Federation of Auberges for Youth : http://www.fuaj.fr/ - in French, English, German and Italian.

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