And in the End...

David Kristofferson kristoff at
Tue Feb 5 15:58:09 EST 1991

I am extremely sorry to see Rob Harper resign from IRLEARN.  I am sure
that everyone will agree that Rob's contribution to BIOSCI has been
invaluable.  I understand his motives, but believe that something good
*will* come from all of this confusion during the last couple of

BIOSCI has been an international collaboration between four different
sites and has worked reasonably well for about 4 years now.  However,
I am as aware as anyone of all of its warts because I also have
devoted a not insignificant amount of time to resolving the problems
that Rob mentioned in his message.  Because of the variety of systems
involved, many compromises were necessary.  Overall BIOSCI has been an
excellent example of international collaboration in which many groups
gave up their parochial interests in the interest of the scientific
community as a whole.  This enabled BIOSCI to grow rapidly and provide
access to users from New Zealand all the way through Asia, the Middle
East, Europe, and the Americas.  I have even had responses back about
BIOSCI messages from research stations in Antartica!

However, we can't rest on past accomplishments.  Some technological
compromises were made in the interest of bringing significant sections
of the scientific community on-line as soon as possible.  It is
obvious that the time has come to review this situation again.  I want
to assure our users that we are having very frank and direct exchanges
between the BIOSCI sites, and I expect that substantial improvements
will be forthcoming as a result of this recent disruption.  It is
unfortunate, but usually it takes incidents like this to add fuel to
calls for technological change.  

I will *once again* encourage our readers to look into getting news
software installed at their sites, and also offer a bit of an
incentive, i.e., the day may come when we finally decide to simply
terminate e-mail subscriptions.  I will continue to push in that
direction, although I realize that, given our current feedback from
readers, e-mail is still necessary.  In my mind there is little reason
why we could not set a target goal of phasing e-mail out completely
within, say, about two more years.  It may be necessary to put this
kind of stick out in public to motivate people to respond.

In the interim there are technological steps that can be taken to
reduce and redirect bouncers.  We have taken such steps at GenBank,
but additional changes are required at some of the other BIOSCI sites.
I believe that I will be able to report back to you soon on further

HOWEVER, I can not promise that this will be the end of our recent
spate of problems.  If the system is reconfigured and a mistake is
made in the process, the potential for further disruptions still
exists.  I hope that our readers will bear with us through this
transition period because I have full confidence that the final result
will be more agreeable to the end user.


				David Kristofferson, Ph.D.
				GenBank Manager

				kristoff at

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