Datatimes offers access to hundreds of news sources


October 24, 1990|By PETER MCWILLIAMS | PETER MCWILLIAMS,1990 Universal Press Syndicate

Alvin Toffler, the man who wrote "Future Shock," is at it again. He's out with a new book, co-written with Heidi Toffler, called "Powershift."

The Tofflers say the ingredients that have held the world together -- such things as currency exchange systems, mass production, bureaucracy and other elements -- are undergoing a shake-up.

"A key, unnoticed reason for this global shake-up is the rise of a radically new system for wealth creation in which information [including everything from scientific research to advertising hype] plays a dominant role," they write. "This new system for making wealth is totally dependent on the instant communication and dissemination of data, ideas, symbols and symbolism."

New to the group of information services that includes CompuServe, the Knowledge Index, Nexis and Dow Jones News Retrieval, all of which I find amazing and useful, is Datatimes.

Datatimes specializes in full-text online newspapers, as does Nexis, and is as simple to use as the Knowledge Index. Datatimes offers access to 640 newspapers, magazines, news services and financial data sources.

Datatimes has so many sources because it now shares its computers with Dow Jones Information Services. Your global searches include Dow Jones' full-text publications, such as Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, Time and Business Week. Datatimes, on its own, has an impressive array of newspapers, including the Washington Post, USA Today and a good number of papers from each state and Canada.

With Datatimes, you choose the global search option, type in your search words and within moments you are told how many articles have been found, all or part of which you can retrieve.

As a test, I typed in my name and received several hundred citations. I soon found out why: Most of them were for this column, duplicated by each newspaper that buys it.

By having access to most publications at once, I did not have to go individually from one paper to the next, as in the full-text newspapers on the Knowledge Index.

Datatimes offers two main plans. One costs $75 per month, and the base online charge is $1.76 per minute. Option B costs $15 per month, and online charges are $2.73 per minute. A special education rate for academics is $40 per month but only 67 cents a minute. Global searches for all plans have a surcharge of 40 cents a minute.

Contrast this with the Knowledge Index -- a straight 40 cents per minute. KI, however, is available only at night and on weekends.

In short, if you want to power-shift into the future and you run a business, Datatimes has an incredible amount of power and reasonable (for business) pricing. If you're an individual, the Knowledge Index is an incredible value.

(Datatimes, 14000 Quail Springs Parkway, Suite 450, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73134; (800) 642-2525. The Knowledge Index, 3460 Hillview Ave., Palo Alto, Calif. 94304; (800) 334-2564.)

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