LOST IN SPACE

On the surface, The Dig sounds like a CD-ROM blockbuster: a Steven Spielberg concept produced by another Hollywood heavyweight, George Lucas. This science-fiction role-playing game challenges you to rescue a team of astronauts stranded underground in an alien world and return them to Earth. Interactivity is limited. Command your astronaut to take certain actions, and the game may revert to a script that takes the action out of the player's hands. Still, the ride is entertaining, with characters who crack wise as you crack alien puzzles, a Wagnerian score and a diverting arcade-style game sneakily embedded in the interface. (CD-ROM for PC and Mac, Lucas Arts, $44.95)

A FATTER TUESDAY

You might think the bawdy fun of Mardi Gras wouldn't transfer well to the disembodied realm of cyberspace. But the more than 20 Web sites dedicated to this year's event do let the bon temps roulez, at least virtually.

Bedecked in the fete's signature purple, green and gold, the sites offer parade schedules, survival tips and mail-order goodies from New Orleans' bakeries. The city's "official" site (http://www.mardigras day.com) promises photos and dispatches from Bourbon Street. The Times-Picayune (http://www.new orleans.net) offers commentary by the paper's staff, as well as vérité from a video BourboCam.

Other sites (neatly cataloged at http://www.nashville.com/wwsl 111/ links.html) show you the krewes (the societies that run the parades), open old photo albums and even dole out virtual beads like the trinkets given to visitors.

>MAD ABOUT BRAD ACCORDING TO INFO-seek, an Internet search engine that directs Net surfers to Web pages on requested subjects, these are the Top 10 people users want information about.

1. Pamela Lee 2. Jenny McCarthy 3. Cindy Crawford 4. Anna Nicole Smith 5. Brad Pitt 6. Madonna 7. Demi Moore 8. Sharon Stone 9. Teri Hatcher 10. Patricia Ford (model)

>Linda Ellerbee

FOR A TASTE OF TV, CIRCA 1948... Following the toe-in-water probings of cyberspace by journalists such as Michael Kinsley, former NBC news-hound Linda Ellerbee is taking to the World Wide Web with her new talk show, Encarta on the Record (http://www.microsoft.com/encarta). Kicking off with a live cybercast on Feb. 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET, the interview program offers several levels of sophistication, from low-tech written transcripts to snazzy live photo updates and an audio feed. Users can submit questions, participate in polls, and access background material. "It's the closest thing to television on the Internet," says Ellerbee, 51, who now produces the Nickelodeon kids' TV show Nick News.

What brings you to the Net?

You can look at this project as a combination of the familiar and the new. We're using what's familiar—a talk show, me—to take things to a new door with the Internet. It's not our goal to push the technical envelope, but to make this as accessible as possible.

How big an audience do you expect?

Nobody thinks this is going to get better ratings than Oprah. The Net is where TV was in the late '40s. In 1948 there were 2 million television sets in this country. Today there are 96 million.

Do you go online yourself?

Yes, I frequent an AOL chat group of breast cancer survivors. By exchanging our experiences, we are able to be more informed. I also found my son a golden retriever through the Net, but unlike the dog of a friend of mine, he doesn't have his own home page.

  • Contributors:
  • Dylan Jones,
  • Samantha Miller.