For-Profit Web Venture Seeks to Replicate the University Experience Online

Columbia University and five other educational and cultural institutions announced last week that they are collaborating on a for-profit Web site that will deliver online courses and other scholarly content.

Organizers say the site (http://www.fathom.com) will transplant into cyberspace the intellectual milieu of academe -- going beyond course offerings to include museum exhibitions, scholarly lectures, artistic performances, and the like.

"What Fathom