Giving Back to the Net — We’re pleased to welcome our latest sponsor, America Online, the largest of the commercial online services. We’ve razzed AOL on occasion for blitzing us with AOL software disks, but as the commercial online services go, AOL has been the most forward-thinking. They offered a free Internet email gateway when that was unusual and were the first commercial online service to provide access to Gopher and WAIS databases. The AOL software now supports FTP includes a Web browser.
I think AOL’s best move in regard to the Internet has been their Give Back to the Net program, which has funded a number of Internet projects and has established an FTP site that helps spread the load for mirror networks like Info-Mac and UMich. As part of the Give Back to the Net program, America Online will be sponsoring TidBITS for the next year.
It’s great to see AOL being a good Internet citizen in this fashion. As the commercial online services added features that enabled their users to access the Internet, one concern was that the influx of users would place a significant drain on free Internet resources. Commercial online services can easily take from the Internet without giving anything back; AOL’s Give Back to the Net program elegantly avoids this problem. Here’s hoping that the other online services follow suit and find similar methods of supporting the Internet community. [ACE]