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About.com

By David Mendosa

Last Update: July 1, 1998

Note: Since this column appeared, The Mining Company has changed its name to About.com. The address for its diabetes area is now http://diabetes.about.com.


Cynthia Black and I differ about what the best part of her Web site is, but that's all right. Her site is The Mining Company: Diabetes, and she is called the site's guide.

What I like best…is the original material.

What I like best about her site is the original material that she creates for it. Among many fine feature articles, her articles "Carbohydrate Counting and Diabetes" and "Sucralose: A Better Artificial Sweetener?" are outstanding.

But Cynthia disagrees that her original articles are her best offerings. "I have to say that the content on the Web is the most important part of my site," she says. "Without all the top-notch information that has been made available from a wide variety of sources, I would not even have a site. I search the Web for information on diabetes, bringing it together in one place that is easy to find for those who may not have the time to search."

It is, in fact, this collecting of information that gives the Mining Company its name. Rather than mining for minerals like gold or oil, what the company mines for is nuggets of information.

"The Mining Company is like a hub with individual sites on over 500 different topics," Cynthia says. "Each site is run and maintained by someone like myself—someone with an interest and knowledge of their subject."

Cynthia learned about diabetes from her husband, who has had diabetes for 20 years. Last year diabetes complications kept him in and out of the hospital most of the year. He finally underwent an amputation on September 10.

"The computer filled in a lot of restless and sleepless nights for me," she says. "I ran across the Mining Company, and it sounded very interesting. I had a small Web page up about diabetes, but was just beginning to learn. Originally I applied for organic gardening as a subject. That was taken, and the only other subject that I had knowledge about that was available was diabetes. I feel that it was meant to be."

Cynthia herself lives in Ohio and is studying medical transcription. She is a writer, an artist, a gardener, and a needleworker. Married for 18 years with two step children but no children of her own, Cynthia has four cats and one cocker spaniel.

She spends 10 to 15 hours per week working on her site--sometimes more, depending on what articles she is working on. Who else works on her site? "No one; it's just me," she replies.

She's been doing this since last September and is attracting more and more visitors. "Traffic to the site has been around 3,000-4,000 page views per week," Cynthia says. "That ranks about average compared to other Mining Company sites. My site has been growing steadily for a year now. Back in November my hits were around 900 per week."

One visitor whom Cynthia remembers well was a young man with diabetes who was about to be married. He was concerned that his fia someday have to face the same problems with him that Cynthia has faced with her husband.

"I wrote him of my feelings as a wife to a diabetic, and he answered me back with great relief," she says. "His fiancé also wrote to me, and I hope that they are happily married by now. Not a big thing perhaps, but I felt like I might have helped someone."

Cynthia certainly has helped many people deal with diabetes and continues to make her site stronger. A bulletin board and a chat room have created a community where people can learn from each other about how to live with diabetes.

Her most recent addition is amputee information, which she plans to expand. As with her husband, 60-70 percent of all amputations in the United States are due to diabetes complications. Maybe the best part of her site is Cynthia herself and her hard-won dedication to learning about the disease. 


The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.


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