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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

A site for the insatiably curious mind

By Burt Lum

Ever wonder how stuff works, or wonder what other people wonder about? There's a lot of wondering to do in cyberspace but not a whole lot of answers. At least they're not all compiled in one place – until now.

The site is called, for obvious reasons, www.howstuffworks.com. I stumbled upon HSW, which was redesigned in September, while trying to decipher the future of wireless Internet. I didn't need to go far to find much more than just a few tutorials on wireless technology. What I found was a wealth of information about some common questions. For example, ever wonder about how cell phones work? Or, perhaps most important of all, how beer works?

There's even an article on how HSW works. Since I am always curious about what makes people tick, I found this fascinating reading. Back in January 1998, Marshall Brain started the Web site as a part-time hobby. It fulfilled his personal desire to help people understand some of the technology surrounding us. In this how-to article, he charts the progress HSW took from a one-man operation to a corporation with venture capital and a board of directors.

Of course, it doesn't stop there. Brain presents information in captivating ways. You will find on HSW compilations of the 40 most popular how-to articles and questions. I find this interesting because it is a glimpse into what piques the curiosity of other people and at the same time revealing topics I had absolutely no clue about.

Like "How IT Might Work" (www.howstuffworks.com/ginger1.htm). I won't spoil the fun, but this has to do with something popularly dubbed "IT" or "Ginger," a secret invention by physicist and engineer Dean Kamen. The invention, the nature of which is a mystery to everyone outside Kamen's circle, hits the streets in 2002. A book already has been written about IT and the innovation is supposed to make its inventor richer than Bill Gates. We'll check back in 2002.

In the meantime, HSW abounds with gems to satisfy the inquisitive mind. ;-)

Burt Lum, cyber-citizen and self-anointed tour guide to the Internet frontier, is one click away at burt@brouhaha.net.