The digital apostles will tell you that anything you can do in the real world you can do better online. But as Eyal Press and Jennifer Washburn detail in "Digital Diplomas", cyber-education has a lot to prove before it can rival its brick-and-ivy counterpart. Herewith, five other traditionally offline (now online) activities that illustrate there's no substitute for the real thing.
Collar Not Included
Is nothing sacred? Every month some 3,000 people become ordained ministers with a single click at the Web site of the Universal Life Church. Those who find religion here can print their certificate of ordination free of charge. For just $89, they also get the ULC's "Ministry in a Box," which includes a tax guide and baptismal certificates. Other online offerings include holy water and a priestly clothing catalog called Friar Tuck.
I Thee Web
The click'n'hitch technology of cyberwed.com allows nerdy lovebirds to exchange their vows online. With a nod to the reality that cyberweddings too often end at divorce.com, the site also provides a handy prenuptial agreement -- to ensure there'll be no ugliness over who gets the aol account when it's all over. By themselves, online unions aren't legally binding. So if you're tempted, we recommend having a minister (of the non- UCL variety) on hand to officiate.
Are death videos the wake of the future? The folks at Fergerson Funeral Home seem to think so. When Henry Armitage, 81, was buried in Onondaga, New York, friends, family, and war buddies watched the first-ever "memorial webcast" on their home computers. After this pioneering success, Fergerson now proudly offers faraway mourners live funeral video -- at a password-protected Web page, of course.
Losing Mountains of Dough
You'll miss the free cocktails, the stone-faced dealers, and the blue-hairs at the slot machines, but there's plenty of Vegas-style kitsch at this Internet casino -- and at any number of the more than 20,000 other gambling sites on the Web. The Himalayan-themed MountEverestCasino.com encourages intrepid rollers to "reach the highest level of money making fun."
[Re:] Tell me about your mother
Want an "Internet alternative to psychotherapy"? The jovial Richard V. Sansbury, Ph.D., offers email consultations to the mentally troubled at Headworks.com. Though you won't be paying for couch time, Headworks still ain't cheap: E-mails run $24.95 a pop, or $150 a month for "unlimited exchanges."