Federal Register & multiple suppliers

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Tue Feb 2 16:00:25 EST 1993


Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1993 13:46:08 -0500
>From: Una Smith <smith-una at YALE.EDU>
Message-Id: <199302021846.AA13380 at MINERVA.CIS.YALE.EDU>
To: samodena at csemail
Subject: Re: Electronic access to the Federal Register

I received a note from Una Smith about my posting on the Federal Register,
and I thought I'd reply via bionet (and hope that Una will take it as a
personal reply also).

>Just so you know, Steve, that announcement about the Federal Register
>coming on-line was an advertisement for a commercial service, *not*
>a public service.  Since commercial advertisements are not allowed,
>those people who want to advertise are resorting to rather sneaky
>tactics that lure innocent readers into distributing the materials
>as a voluntary act.

>Una

Yes, I was aware of the commercial "aspect" of that particular posting,
which I picked up on an ag ListServ.  I hope my subsequent post from an
electronic info manager at ES-USDA also made it out OK, because it helps
outline what is going on.

There is, in fact, quite a storm blowing over whether distribution (and
access to) U.S. Government databases should be "privatized" or freely
ftp-able.  The battle is quite fierce from the side of commercial ag info
suppliers...who have made an investment and developed a market.

With respect to the Federal Register specifically, I have personally
attempted to track down ftp access, first by talking with the staff of
Senator Lahey (VT -Senate Ag Committee) and then with a research librarian
at the National Library of Congress.  Someone informed me that 1)
negotiations were under way to have to Government Printing Office (GPO) make
the Federal Register accessable on-line [in additional to the route through
the commercial vendor(s)] and 2) negotiations were difficult because the
GPO *union* might regard this as a threat to their membership, who are
print trade artisans.  

This "struggle" has popped up on bionet in other ways...and in certain
journals dealing with DNA sequence analysis.  I saw a post from SGI in
bionet.jobs that was non-conformant.

My point is: we should be aware of this revolutionizing process that is a
natural consequence of electronic internetworking, whether it is NSF's
bionet or CompuServe or FidoNet or the Amateur Radio Packet Forwarding
System (world-wide) or cable-companies vs. the Baby Bells or....the list
will continue to stretch out. 

What is permissible?  

Did I "inadvertantly" advertise a commercial service?  Perhaps....but I'm
not in the least bit shy to say that I an pushing the envelope in my way.
I'm trying to provide not only certain "facts" (such as those postings), but
also some synthesis, such as this posting.  My interest is in "access,"
and not in promoting a commercial access agent.  (Did I advertise
CompuServe because I made a posting of the CompuServe account to contact
the White House by email?)

This *is* the Electronic Frontier....and frontier law applies...not
comfortable pecking-order conventionalism.

What I favor is expanded cyber-access.....and almost everything we see now
is just a fleeting form.  :^)

Steve
---
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|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
|     At e-mail:  nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu                           | 
|                 samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu                |
|                 [ either email address is read each day ]        |
|     By snail:   Crop Sci Dept, Box 7620, NCSU, Raleigh, NC 27695 |
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