Whether bionet/BIOSCI in the "modern" world?

Stephen Modena nmodena at ncsu.edu
Sat Apr 24 10:39:31 EST 1993


[For the impatient people looking for a "quickie," hit the N-key now]

WHO CONFIGURES THE NETWORK?

In another article in the 12 Apr 93 InfoWorld, "Internet Group Weighs
[domain] Address[ing] Options" (byline Cheryl Gerber), it say in part:

	"By the year 2000, the Internet's current technology won't be
able to handle any more users....

"To address the coming capacity crunch, three proposals are currently...

"Though many would like to see Internet and ISO standards integrate, it
seems more likely the SIP (Simple Internet Protocol) will win out."
...
"...even when Internet technology is augmented to effectively assign
network addresses, another problem must be resolved, routing."
"The more information they have to send, the more the routing protocols
are under stress......we also need to increase knowledge of routers to
distinguish the types of traffic they are handling....."

For all I know, this could be a side discussion to LISTSERV <==> BIOSCI.

The other day I got a message on UseNet newreader with a FidoNet
domain....looked just like an Internet email message, except it
originated via a volunteer dialup home PC-based BBS system in the
hinterland....funny I see them on CompuServe, I see them in
comp.lang.pascal and triangle.radio.....and they don't seem to cause
chaos.

There is a rather important point to be made here: bionet/BIOSCI,
relatively speaking, does not give the public the image of biologists
being almost impatiently hoping that the in-place communications network
will catch up with their needs for email-/newsgroup-based interaction.

This could very well be because professional biologists generally hold 
advanced degrees and can't be "wasting" their time with this nonsense.
I can think of no good reason why SCIENCE, let alone Nature, would waste
page space propagandizing bionet/BIOSCI...since it does not constitute
an important current happening in the world of research or applied
sciences.

The curious thing is that people with advanced university degrees seem
to have trouble with and are bothered by the number of extraneous
messages in their mailbox.  As a holder of a PhD, I realize the truth of
the Piled-High-and-Deep mnemonic......the cry is to SURPRESS the traffic
rather then to find a mechanism to HANDLE the traffic (contrast Dave K. 
vs. Tony Travis).

Allow me to offer a contrasting situation.  There is a world-wide
amateur radio pack-forwarding network.  There is a raging controversy
with the Federal Communications Commission/American Radio Relay League
about allowing UNATTENDED operation of packet forwarding amateur radio
nodes....and a Proposal-for-Rule-Making is on the table to absolve the
individual amateur radio operator from the necessity to read every
single forwarded message for appropriateness of content according to the
FCC rules governing Amateur Radio (I'm reminded of Dave K.'s periodic
reminders to commercial posters in bionet.jobs).  Surprise, surprise.
Some of the venreated, but horribly inefficient and ineffective
transmission protocol (hardware and software) are begining to fall in favor
of new techniques (hardware and software) because of the tremendous USER
pressure and frustration with the status quo and presevation of backward
- compatibility with an aging infrastruture investment.

So though it can takes 3 or 4 days to forward a packet message (for
free) accross the USA by ham radio, I foresee this changing in just a
couple of years once the conservative powers-that-be are completely swept
aside...as they are being shoved powerfully now.

What has this to do with bionet/BIOSCI?

Una (and actually, Tony) are quite convinced that what is needed is a
further spreading of the net.....and that technology (hardware/software)
will allow it to happen in various guises. Email lists (listservs) are
but one of those mechanisms.

For $500 I can buy the ham radio equipment (software/hardware) that
would allow me, sitting in a tropical forest of Costa Rica, miles from
running water and commercial electrical generation, to read email via
ham radio packet forwarding......I could talk with people "back home" via
this system, BUT I COULD NOT PARTICIPATE IN BIONET/BIOSCI. And the
reason is that there is no gateway mechanism. And even if there were,
there would be non-stop bitching about the "glitches" that happen so
frequently in systems that are crudely GLUED together to meet a
NEED-TO-COMMUNICATE with peers and colleagues ...and who does the
complaining?  The prestige system users...

Two years ago I spent a couple of months in Mexico and discovered that
cellular telephones were really hot items....little wonder in a country
that has a PRIMITIVE telephone system.  So the cellular operators are
making a FORTUNE! (Look, no need for wires!)  So where is the Repulic of
Mexico making a tremendous capital investment?  In a modern telephone
system...and down the road, the nation of Mexican university students
and instructors/researchers will be able to join us PROVIDED there is a
suitable GATEWAY mechanism once they place a telephone call to Monterray
or any of the hand full of Internet uplink sites....will it be via the
expensive UseNet mechanism or something closer to what Tony Travis laid
out in detail in his post....????

And not to be mean spirited to our British colleagues, but Tony must be
somewhere that can't afford UseNet the way I have it on my desktop
computer.....and frankly, MOST United States academic users can't afford
it either.

I think bionet/BIOSCI is not YET in it's ultimate optimum configuration
to serve even the majority's needs.

Just an disinterested opinion.  :^)
Steve
---
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|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
|     At e-mail:  nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu                           | 
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         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.
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-- 
Stephen A. Modena      
nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu    samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu



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