(((bruces remarks: it's been a tough week for time- honored computer networks. First CompuServe was divided up and partially sold to its deadly rival America OnLine, and now the French government is formally abandoning its support for its dirigiste Minitel service.)))
"Number's Up for Minitel..."
"The French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, has admitted that a marvel of local electronic technology, the unique Minitel system, is putting a brake on France's access to global communications, *writes Paul Webster in Paris.*
"While the Minitel, a small table-top telephone-linked terminal, gives low-tech access to thousands of services, 15 years of trying to convince the rest of the world of its usefulness have left foreigners cold.
"There are 14.5 million businesses and home users of the Minitel in France compared with one million plugged into the Internet. Furthermore French Telecom earned nearly $1 billion a year with the system. But government policy will be aimed at weaning the public off the French system and onto the global web.
"Only mass Internet use can fulfil government hopes that schools will be fully on-line by the end of the century and that access to main state research centres will be free for everyone."
Bruce Sterling (firstname.lastname@example.org)