Machine Age

What's really missing here is an organized body to vet these issues--maybe the last thing we can expect to see. For the past five years, Network Solutions has controlled the domain-name registration, supported by exclusive contracts from the National Science Foundation. Like much else concerning the Net, the general philosophy has been laissez-faire. "We register names on a first-come, first-served basis," said Network Solutions spokesperson Cheryl Regan. "We don't get involved in the dispute process."

But the autocracy of Network Solutions is coming to an end. The Department of Commerce has proposed opening the system to the free market by March 31, letting users register their names through multiple competing services. Enough questions remain about that changeover that Network Solutions anticipates maintaining control until late this year.

For now, Network Solutions is staying out of the Jews for Jesus imbroglio, while the imposter site continues to redirect its share of pilgrims. According to Coleman, it's a matter of civil rights. "Where does First Amendment end and trademark begin?" he asked. "We're just looking for order."


Signal and Noise

Kudos to RBI: Small World Sports, a spin-off from Small World Software, has launched a volunteer information site (harlemrbi.com) for baseball-and-mentorship nonprofit Harlem RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). The company has developed a program to draft East Harlem kids into Web design....EThe Tao of MSFT: A brilliant list of haikus from the "Microsoft Poet operating system" trafficked the Net last week. A sampling: "Wind catches lily/scatt'ring petals to the wind/segmentation fault" and the more tragic "With searching comes loss/and the presence of absense/'My Novel' not found."

E-mail: abunn@villagevoice.com

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