Mainstream Academic Acceptance of USENET

Dr. Albert Hybl UMAB-BIOPHYS hybl at
Fri Aug 30 18:03:28 EST 1991

I recommend that reader of this thread obtain a copy of Senate
Bill S.272 titled "High-Performance computing Act of 1991."

Let me quote some material from the Bill:
"Sec. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE. (a) The Congress finds the following:
(1) Advances in computer science and technology are vital to the
Nation's prosperity, national economic security and scientific
advancement. ... (b) It is the purpose of Congress in the Act to
help ensure the continued leadership of the United States in
high-performance computing and its applications.  This requires
that the United States Government--(1) expand Federal support
for research, development, and application of high-performance
computing in order to-- ... (A) establish a high-capacity
national research and education computer network; ... (C) develop
an information infrastructure of data bases, services, access
mechanisms, and research facilities which is available for use
through such a national network; ... (E) promote the more rapid
development and wider distribution of computer software tools
and applications software; ... (H) invest in basic research
and education ...

(C) expand efforts to improve, document, and evaluate
unclassified public-domain software developed by federally
funded researchers and other software, including federally
funded educational and training software; ... (F) distribute
federally funded software to State and local government,
industry and universities; ... (H) provide the technical support
and research and development of high-performance computer
software and hardware needed to address grand challenges in
astrophysics, geophysics, engineering, materials, biochemistry,
plasma physics, weather and climate forecasting, and other
fields; (I) provide for educating and training additional
undergraduate and graduate students in software engineering,
computer science, and computational science; ..."

Does this sound like the foundation for among other things
a National Electronic Library--A very much expanded and
improved USENET if you like?

I have used the netlib at several times.
There are many academic ftp site holding a vast amount
of PD software of general interest to computer science;
although documentation is sparse, I've accessed some of it.
There are several site holding comp.sources.unix and
comp.sources.misc containg good code.  These are the model
for what I suggested:  network accessible PD scientific program
libraries.  For example, several national laboratories have large
libraries of scientific program; I have found documents describing
some of the collections.  However, there is no ftp or netlib-like
access to them.  They could become the start of a network
accessible PD scientific program collection. When can we
see postings of general contents of government PD software
and postings of how to get electronic access to more
information about specific programs and postings of how to
use electronic means to obtain copies of the source code.

As for the Academic community, I think the posting of well
document PD software should appear in a researchers CV and
be regarded as an important contribution.  Postings in or e-mail to the author containing
reports of bugs and/or suggestions for improvements might
result in a posting of program patches.  Can you correct or
expand a printed and bound journal article that easily?  At
present some academic researchers publish and sell their
software.  I wonder how profitable this is for the
researcher.  I suspect the for most academic software
would not generate an adequate sales volume to justify its
publication irrespective of how good it might otherwise be.

Sincerely, A Hybl

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