Readership Report

Tony Travis ajt at
Thu Feb 18 13:24:38 EST 1993

Dave Kristofferson (kristoff at NET.BIO.NET) wrote:
: [...]
:         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.

Active well-known experts lead discussions elsewhere in conventional
conferences and meetings.  Let's not forget the virtue of an informal
discussion arena like this where, to a great extent, we are all equal.

: 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.

Speaking as a biology/computer jock (I'm English BTW not Scottish but I
love living here) I don't see that you will fulfil the primary
objective of bionet by trying to create groups _for_ professional
biologists.  Like it or not, these groups have a life of their own and
they are created _by_ the people who use them.

The primary objective was, I thought, to bring together disparate
groups of biologists who were previously using an uncoordinated
collection of mailing lists to communicate with each other and in this
respect I think bionet has been very successful.  What bothers me is
the novice/guru attitude I see from time to time, and the passive
participation that seems to be accepted as the norm by many people.

It is ironic that the very openness of the news system that you are
encouraging everyone to adopt is the underlying cause of OTT
(over-the-top/off-the-topic) discussions that erupt on 'professional'
news groups.  By and large, people do not subscribe to mailing lists
they are not interested in, but many people 'cruise' the news groups
looking for places to cause trouble or post irrelevant messages.

I see a great virtue in what you have achieved with the coordination of
the BIOSCI lists and it saddens me to see email distributions
criticised so often.

Dr. A.J.Travis,                       |  JANET: <ajt at>
Rowett Research Institute,            |  other: <ajt at>
Greenburn Road, Bucksburn,            |  phone: +44 (0)224 712751
Aberdeen, AB2 9SB. UK.                |    fax: +44 (0)224 715349

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