Cappucino and Chips

Internet café society in Melbourne

Ali Kayn

A Technology Bytes Feature

October, 1996

Internet cafes would seem to be a great idea. The latest software, the fastest connections, on-site support, and COFFEE. Coffee, as we know, fuels the IT (Information Technology) industry; or at least the nerdocracy.

Yet according to sources in the media lounge at the PC shows (and come on, that's got to be horse's mouth), the only place where Internet cafes are doing well is Melbourne.

Makes sense, I guess. Melbourne is a coffee town.

When its cold outside, we drink coffee in homes and cafes; and when it's fine outside, we drink coffee in courtyards, at streetside tables and in homes and cafes.

If there is a sister city for Melbourne anywhere in the world, it is most likely to be Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. A green and soggy city that is rife with garage bands. In Melbourne, the place is thick with writers, especially in the 'genres'. As for the coffee, well as long as we can keep Starbucks -- the Kentucky Fried Chicken of the caffine world away, then we look like having (silicone) chips and chips (french fries to the underdeveloped parts of the world) with our net surfing.

Darkzone is an upgrade of the traditional pinball parlour, which provides internet access in a darkened dungeon-like atmosphere. They cater to kids parties as well as the casual trade. Most interest about their set-up: they have given up using software to monitor kids' usage and abusage of hyperlinks. They say that their is no substitute for responsible adult supervision, so that's what they provide.

Megabite caters to the opposite end of the market -- seniors. The food is better, the lighting is clearer and the whole atmosphere is one of a good eat-in-or-take-away lunch spot. Their visitors com by the bus-load. Grandmas and Grandpas find the web, in a supported environment a great way to keep in contact with far-flung offspring as well as a way to fill the time.

As more and more family web sites go up, people are using the internet to find old friends and to work on that great filler-of-time, the family history.

Downside of Megabite? Another launch where I tripped over Jeff Kennet. Just how many of him are there?

Ali Kayn

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