From the November 14, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1546)
By Jim Trageser
San Diego County's largest cable provider and one of its largest Internet service providers is finally getting its act together. But if Cox Cable was behind the curve in creating a real Web presence, it's new SanDiegoInsider.com site plays a pretty good game of catch-up.
The site is similar to Southwestern Cable's Road Runner site (www.san.rr.com) -- it provides a brief overview of the news and numerous links to various entertainment, sports and recreation outlets in the region.
Certainly, it's a huge improvement over Cox's previous San Diego-based Web project, it's @Home site (http://www.home.net), which is basically a promotional vehicle for the company's ISP business.
SanDiegoInsider.com is a slick, informative site with two nice hooks -- a daily poll on a local issue of interest and an active, BBS-style conversation area. The main page, and those that follow, is clean, with easy to figure out menus (the site is organized into just five major areas, a definite plus) and bright graphics.
To balance the nice look, they've assembled some pretty good talent on the content side. John Freeman, former sportswriter for the San Diego Union-Tribune (and son of longtime TV critic Don Freeman, one of the best writers to ever grace this town), is sports producer for SDI. Nanette Wiser, formerly of Copley News Service and one-time head of Sidewalk San Diego, is entertainment producer. Bonnie Nichols, previously editor of the La Jolla Light and my old haunt, The Ocean Beach Beacon (although long after I'd left), heads up the news side. So it's a good staff, and they've contracted with City News Service to provide them with local news in addition to what their staff writes.
Wiser provides weekly restaurant reviews and a growing database of places to dine. There are weekly reviews of local golf courses (although I couldn't find a comprehensive list of local courses), of night clubs, of surfing spots. There are also various entertainment, arts and sports calendars to let you know what's coming up in the weeks ahead.
But as good a staff as they have, the news isn't SDI's strongest point, although that could change. Nor does it seem oriented toward competing with America Online's Digital City and Microsoft's Sidewalk San Diego in terms of sheer number of listings. Instead, it's the 14 (for now) conversation groups and the daily poll that most define the site. Again and again, the site promotes its interactivity and encourages readers to send in their thoughts. For the Oct. 21 rollout, the daily poll question was: Would you bet on the Chargers if A. They were playing the Aztecs, B. Playing Torrey Pines High, C. Playing a Pop Warner team? (Answer C was leading shortly before lunch.) And the conversation subs include topics from sports (broken down in Aztecs, Padres and Chargers), dining, surfing and arts.
The site is freely available to anyone, although you do need to register to access some areas of the site. And the folks at Cox say they will have an enhanced version of SanDiegoInsider.com just for Cox@Home subscribers by the end of the year (probably designed to take advantage of the higher speeds available to cable subscribers).
But as it stands, it's already a solid site one of San Diego's most informative right out of the gate.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
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