It's vacation photos, a holiday greeting or a chance to cheer on the alma mater. Home pages on the Internet are becoming the modern "brag book."
And increasingly, it's just ordinary people staking a claim on the Internet as their soapbox for personal greetings.Wendy Brown of Redding, Calif., has a Web page that chats about life and adventures, including an introduction she titled "Way Too Much About Me."
"It's a way for me to brag and get away with it," added Amber Olzak, who talks about herself and her family on her page.
Olzak admits that the page "is geared more toward family" but both Olzak and Brown see their pages as a fun introduction to people they meet on the Net.
"I get on the Internet and write to different people and if I meet new people it's easier to just send them to my page," than to tell them about her background, Brown said.
Brown doesn't have any grandiose ideas about what her page contains. It's just her life.
"As far as being helpful - it doesn't increase the knowledge" on the Internet, she said.
Businesses long ago discovered the Internet as a way to get their name out there. But more and more people are posting their personal outlook these days, said Jack Waterman, Web master at InterStar, an Internet service provider.
"There are a million reasons why," Waterman said. Some like to set up pages to talk about their hobbies. Others are interested in just talking about their families.
InterStar, like many Internet service providers, allows customers space for a Web site. Currently there is a small monthly fee, but that may be eliminated, he said.
Brown said her page took about four months to put together.
"It was a progressive thing. If someone asked me to do it and provided the information, I could do it (again) in about a day," she said.
"It's very easy to make them nowadays. Any desktop or word processing application will convert to html (the language code of the Internet)," Waterman said.
Jim Christopher of Mount Shasta, Calif., set up his page just before the holidays as a family Christmas greeting.
"Mostly I'm doing it because I wanted to get some experience," Christopher said. He owns a computer consulting business and someday may venture into the Web design field.
Since his first page went up, he's updated it once with a message that cheers on the Huskies, because both he and his wife attended the University of Washington.
Olzak said she plans to update her page monthly, in particular to tell family and friends what's new with Audrey, her 20- month-old daughter.
"This way I can put pictures on it and her grandparents, who live in Washington, can see them too," Olzak said.
The basic elements of the pages are pretty simple: text and images.
From there, the fun begins. There can be moving images and interactive items, but you don't necessarily have to be a computer geek to figure them out, Waterman said.
"Some moving things are quite simple to make," Waterman said, adding, "It brings you into the images; it makes you part of it."
"As far as bringing people together in different parts of the world, it's phenomenal," Brown said.