VIENNA, VAAmerica Online announced Monday that it will do its part in the fight against U.S. homelessness by constructing three million World Wide Web home pages for the nation's homeless citizens.
"In this, the richest nation on earth, no one should have to know the pain of being without a home," said AOL president and CEO Steve Case, announcing the home-pages-for-the-homeless plan. "That's why we're working to make sure that all Americans have a place to call their own."
"There is room enough for everyone in cyberspace," Case said.
Beginning next week, the popular online service will give every homeless citizen his or her own home page, training in the basics of HTML coding, and 512K of storage space.
Homeless persons will also be able to go to their city's Department of Social Services, where a web-trained social worker will help them choose a background color or pattern for their page, assist them in selecting their "hot links" list, and give them a choice of cartoon characters to greet visitors to the page.
"All human beings need a place where they can be themselves, where they can express themselves," Case said. "And that is precisely what a home page provides. Give a person a home page, and you have given that person dignity."
"Like anybody else, homeless people just want a chance," Case continued. "And AOL is giving them just that–a chance to earn prize tokens by playing Zealot trivia. Whether they ally themselves with the Drakulian Empire or the Zsiverian Collective, the nation's homeless will be able to test their sci-fi know-how in a multiple-choice celestial showdown for valuable prizes."
"Keyword: Z," Case said.
Homeless citizens who have severe physical or mental disabilities, Case said, will also be eligible for special "page perks," such as a Java applet of a DOOM cyberdemon or a downloadable list of 100 humorous ways to phone in a pizza order. By early 1999, AOL will also begin offering such persons a "Cartoon Laws Of Physics" text file.
"It is shameful that in America in 1998, with all the wealth and technology we have at our disposal, there are still people out there who have no place to go," Case said. "No American should be without an address."