Don't be too high-tech!!!

John Nash nash at
Sun May 9 07:08:55 EST 1993

In article <C6q4oJ.4AF at> ernest at (Ernest Retzel (1535 49118)) writes:
>From: ernest at (Ernest Retzel (1535 49118))
>Subject: Re: Don't be too high-tech!!!
>Date: Sat, 8 May 1993 19:52:08 GMT

>> When you put a new service on the
>> Internet you should judge its success not by how many people you reach, but by
>> how many people your resource disenfranchises.

>There aren't too many things that I disagree with Doug on, but I think
>this may be one of them.

[some conversation deleted]

>The lowest common denominator philosophy is great, if that is what the
>problem is.  But when the problem becomes more complex, so does the 
>solution.  I think the goal of the community should be toward an upward
>slope, not maintenance of the status quo.  I also think that an 
>entity like NCBI is precisely in a position to lead the community up that 
>slope, or at least show us where it is.

This is correct, assuming that you have lots of people jumping and screaming 
to have access to these services.  You don't!  You have a small community 
of very motivated and forward-thinking people jumping and screaming to have 
access.  Often we're trying to lead colleagues in by example.  This is NOT 

You (we) also have a large community of people who are interested - if they 
can find the time.  I have found so many people who say "Gopher... it sounds 
very useful.  I must fiddle with it when I find the time".  Of course, my 
reaction is "Find time for Gopher? ... well - don't eat!"  These people are 
not intimidated by computers, but would rather be eased in slowly.  (In 
grad school we used to call them "button-pushers", which is rather rude).  

Importantly, they have to be convinced of the usefulness of the technology 
before they'll accept the cost or the WASTE OF THEIR TIME ON THE LEARNING 
CURVE (yes, I'm emphasizing).  Some of these people were perhaps reluctant 
to go on the LAN and have email, but now use email a lot, and may experiment 
a little with LAN services (We have Current Contents on disk, Netnews, 
Telnet, FTP, and soon Gopher and WAIS).  I view teaching them about Internet/
USENET (or rather BIONET)/Gopher/WAIS/etc as a pleasant challenge.

Then, you'd be surprised at the number of users (young and old) who are 
downright hostile to the Internet, seeing it as a self-serving, time-wasting 
exercise (None here, of course! <g>).  They refuse to read their own email.  
If they read even (let alone alt.tasteless), they would consider 
their views justified (especially with Mcilwraith's postings there!).

I don't think the latter two groups could be introduced to the fancy stuff 
and grant it immediate acceptance.  Easing them in via VT100-and-modem (ok - 
PC/Mac/Terminal and Internet access is the LCD these days), and showing them 
an available progression of sophistication of resources according to needs/
requirements would do wonders.  Then, when they're hooked, there's that nice 
SGI up the hallway, which can....

cheers, John

John Nash                           | Email: Nash at
Institute for Biological Sciences,  | National Research Council of Canada,
Cell Physiology Group.              | Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
             *** Disclaimer:  All opinions are mine, not NRC's! ***

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