Readership Report

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at NET.BIO.NET
Wed Feb 17 18:56:33 EST 1993

Una raises many excellent points.  I have no quarrel with formal
USENET status longer term.  I have said repeatedly that our long term
goal is to phase out e-mail lists and turn this into a self-sustaining
organization.  By this all of you can clearly read that BIOSCI/bionet
becoming a regular mainstream USENET domain with no mailing lists,
etc., is in our future.  There will be no need for anyone to duke it
out with Dave because there will be a multiplicity of targets 8-).

Currently there is still a large number of users that need e-mail
access, and I have no intention of leaving these people in the lurch.
Novices have one central place on each side of the Atlantic that they
can come to for help and they don't need to know anything more than
how to send a simple English e-mail message to one address to get
started.  As the community becomes more "literate" this will be less
necessary.  We have a grant to run this system for another 2.5+ years,
and I would not be surprised that bionet becomes a self-sustaining
USENET domain without our further involvement at that time (and
possibly sooner if the government funding gets cut back dramatically
given all of the uncertainty in DC these days).

My message to everyone is that they should be taking steps now to
prepare for this day.  If you do not have news, you should encourage
people at your site to get hopping on this sooner rather than later.

I think the only comment that I disagree with regards the "noise"

    I reject the notion that "noise" would be a direct and unavoidable
    consequence of wider distribution of the bionet newsgroups.  And I
    think it is often quite educational for biologists to face the
    questions of non-biologists (many of whom are scien- tists or at the
    very least college-educated).

My experience in trying to get continued support for these newsgroups
in the face of the end of the GenBank contract last year was that
these groups still have to prove their use to many mainstream,
influential biologists.  Those of you out there routinely using BIOSCI
each day may be less aware of this resistance.  Cornelius raised this
issue directly a couple of postings back:

     I agree with Tom that many people out there do not know about bionet
     (and at least some of these who know ask "why should I waste time with
     this stuff?").

More often than not this is the attitude that I have been struggling
against.  It is my belief that opening up BIOSCI to a flood of laymen
questions from intelligent non-biologists would doom the system
completely.  Once we have succeeded in getting these newsgroups firmly
established for professionals, e.g., have active well-known experts
leading discussions in most of the specialty groups on an on-going
basis, then this issue can be debated by the people for whom the
groups are really intended, i.e., professional research biologists.
Right now most of these policy debates are the province of a smaller
number of biology/computer jocks who might see things quite
differently from the way a more mainstream biologist would.


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				kristoff at

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