It’s in the mail

By Len O'Neal April 1, 1999

If you have paid even the smallest amount of attention to the internet and world wide web in the last few years, you no doubt remember all of the hype about “push” technology, one of the many next-best internet developments guaranteed to change how we used the web. Well, years have passed and you would be hard-pressed to find someone eager to utter the infamous “push” word, let alone find a full-blown implementation of the concept at the level to which prognosticators claimed we would take this stupendous technology. Remember Microsoft Bob?

This is not to say that “push” technology, or variations of the concept, is not in widespread use. The personalization features offered at sites like Yahoo! and Excite borrow tactics from the bigger “push” picture. And in company settings, where most employees access the corporate intranet with high bandwidth connections and standard software and hardware configurations, the potential benefits associated with implementing large-scale “push” applications merit serious attention.

You’ve got mail

So what happened to the global deployment of “push?” First, while the “push” bandwagon continued to grow, so too did the ambitions of most everyone on board, to levels that lost touch with the realities of the current state of the web and the masses surfing it. Connection speeds and privacy issues were just a few of the things that real-world users were thinking about, yet most “push” pioneers were not.

Second, and most importantly, when it came to “push” technology, most PC users already had access to the simplest and most useful internet “push” tool: e-mail. That’s right. Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, Lotus mail, and other e-mail programs (and don’t forget the still-popular Usenet newsgroups) have been in use for so long — well before the world wide web caught our fancy — that many people, including the “push” fortune tellers, seemed to forget their status as internet tools and the power they provided. Not anymore.


Today, e-mail rules. For example, any site with a wealth of information and a desire to keep you tuned in is likely to offer you the opportunity to subscribe to their e-mail newsletter. Some are delivered daily; others are monthly. Some allow you to choose what is sent to you; others do not. But the goal is the same: Based upon your request and criteria you deem important, use (did someone say push?) e-mail to keep readers informed.

Plant Engineering Online is no different. With the wealth of information products and services available at PE Online , especially with the new and ever-growing PE channels, the time has come for PE Online to use the ultimate push tool to better serve you. So the next time you’re visiting PE Online (, be sure to subscribe to our e-mail newsletter — an easy way for you to keep your finger on the pulse of PE Online . That is, of course, until the next great internet technology comes along. — Len O’Neal, Web Editor, 630-320-7147,