Calling All Couch Potatoes

NICK WEST, a researcher at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, produces a public-access show, which he says is "interactive television for Joe or Jane Six pack." All you need is cable TV and a phone. "Yorb: The Electronic Neighborhood" (Thursday at 11 p.m. on Channel 34, for Manhattanites) allows up to four call-in viewers to navigate through a computer-generated world. They can watch from home as one viewer steers using the touch-tone telephone keypad; press 2 to go north, 6 to go east, etc. You drive through an eerie landscape from behind a 3-D dashboard- where a live chat session from the ECHO bulletin board scrolls by. The show started in 1993, but West has redesigned the software partly to avoid on-air crashes that plagued the earlier version -and has added a digital art gallery and a drive-in theater, featuring video clips by New York artists. Says West: "We're aiming to have it on 24 hours a day Ion NYU campus TVJ." Pass the coffee. please.