BRITAIN’s first cyberspace cafe opens its doors tomorrow to welcome people bewildered by superhighway hype, writes Michelle Stavrinou.
Located just behind the computer and hi-fi shops of Tottenham Court Road, Cyberia cafe was planned as a women-only venue, in protest at the small number of female “net surfers” encountered by Eva Pascoe and Gene Teare, Cyberia’s founders.
This strict door policy was eventually dropped to offer a genuine community ambience that mixes coffee and danish pastries with online activities using eight PCs.
Pascoe, a former psychologist, maintains that some of the planned training seminars will still carry a women-only tag. “From my teaching experiences, I learnt that you can train women far more quickly than men, you just need to take a different approach. But I’m confident we can get anyone up to speed on the Internet within two days.”
Teare plans to apply her publishing knowledge to the many services Cyberia will offer: “We plan to fully explore electronic publishing as well as offer a virtual noticeboard for non-profit-making organisations, free classified ads, a Bill and Hillary page for sending comments to the White House and an online dating agency.”
Customers will be charged Pounds 1.90 per half-hour on the Internet, but this will increase to Pounds 2.50 once Pascoe and Teare have finished promoting their “World in a Coffee Shop” slogan.
Funding was raised from Pascoe’s software business in her native Poland and Teare’s printing ventures. Internet provider EASYnet, run by Teare’s husband, is in the same building as Cyberia. This links Cyberia to the global “infobahn” via Pipex, a corporate net-supplier, using 64 kbit kilostreams. Customers will be able to purchase Internet addresses with extra navigational software from Pounds 9 a month plus a Pounds 10 start-up fee.
Cyber cafes have been established in other countries since 1989, when similarly community-minded Electronic Cafe International opened in California. Since then various cafes have sprung up in Brazil, China, Japan, France and Spain, hosting live multimedia events ranging from art collaborations to worldwide debates.Cyberia cafe and EASYnet are at 39 Whitfield Street, London, near Goodge Street Tube station
Sunday Times, The (London, England)
Sunday, September 11, 1994
Author: Michelle Stavrinou