IMPORTANT - Reorganization of BIOSCI newsgroup distribution

David Kristofferson kristoff at
Tue Apr 14 17:48:16 EST 1992

Although we got off to a bit of a rocky start yesterday on the
BIOFORUM/bionet.general newsgroup, we are coming close to completion
on a plan to simplify the BIOSCI/bionet system and to move to a
news-based, instead of mail-based, distribution backbone between the
Americas and Europe (e-mail subscriptions to individuals are not
affected by this change).

First we are announcing that the number of distribution sites will be
reduced to two, one in Europe at the SERC Daresbury Laboratory in the
U.K. and one in the Americas at IntelliGenetics (IG).  When BIOSCI
first started several years back we had a grand international scheme
to involve many national biological computing sites, but hard
experience has proven that the system rapidly became too complex and
prone to problems.

Over the last several months first the distribution site in Sweden at
BMC and now the distribution site at IRLEARN have agreed to bow out in
favor of Daresbury and IG.  

I want to express my thanks once again to Niall O'Reilly of
IRLEARN/University College Dublin and his coworkers there for their
important work in developing the BIOSCI system on EARN.  European
scientists in particular owe them a debt of gratitude for their work.
Also Mats Sundvall at the University of Uppsala's BioMedical Center
(BMC) played a crucial role at the beginning of BIOSCI in being the
first site in Europe to establish the full set of BIOSCI newsgroups as
separate distributions.  Finally I should also thank once again
Michael Ashburner and Martin Bishop, both formerly of SEQNET, who
contacted BIONET in early 1987 and suggested the collaboration that
led to BIOSCI.

		 Transition from IRLEARN to Daresbury

Tuesday, the 21st of April, is the date slated for the transfer of
just the BIOFORUM mailing list from IRLEARN to Daresbury.  Daresbury
has completed installation of USENET news and has been working closely
with Kenton Hoover at IG on mail-to-news transition issues.  The
BIOFORUM group will be monitored for about a week and then the other
mailing lists will be transfered from IRLEARN to Daresbury.  IRLEARN
posting addresses will be forwarded for a while to the corresponding
addresses at Daresbury, but will eventually be turned off.

The bottom line for our current subscribers at IRLEARN is that their
subscriptions will be transfered to Daresbury and they need do
nothing.  If you do notice any problems with your mail, please contact
the biosci at address after the transition of the mailing

Scientists in Europe, Africa, or central Asia who are contemplating
subscribing to BIOSCI should direct their subscription requests to
biosci at

In addition to our current WAIS newsgroup archive at
we will also be providing an FTP newsgroup archive for *all*
BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups in the very near future.  Some newsgroup
archives are already available for FTP.  Mail server archives may also
be offered at both Daresbury and IG.

			   The Longer View

Although details have not been finalized, I expect that further
support for the newsgroups will be forthcoming very soon in the
Americas and also hopefully in Europe.

  It will be one of our goals over the next three years to phase out
		  participation in BIOSCI by e-mail.

We have all seen some of the problems that e-mail distribution can
create in terms of loops.  News offers other advantages in terms of
recovery from network interuptions, for example, and is a more
efficient use of network resources.

While we are acutely aware that many sites still do not have news
software, three years advance warning should be *more* than adequate
for people to react.  We will also continue to remind our users over
the next couple of years.  During the next year I expect to enhance
the news system offerings substantially so that it will be trivially
easy for anyone to justify getting news installed on their local
computer.  We also hope to be in a position to assist people
technically with this transition when needed.

In summary, this is a time of change for BIOSCI.  Although some
problems may develop on occasion, I remain confident that the system
will continue to grow in utility and efficiency.  We have had to
contend at times with many skeptics about the viability and usefulness
of this sytem over the last five years.  Although I am certain that
there will always be suggestions for how the system could be better
run, the fact remains that substantial progress has been made already.
Instead of waiting for perfection before we acted, we put together
a functional system and are continuing to improve it.  Our goal, after
all, is not technology for its own sake, but simply to allow
scientists from all parts of the globe to communicate easily with each
other and share their knowledge.  At times though we will find it
necessary to take the side of technological progress and shake things
up a bit to move them forward.  I think Lubert Stryer did quite well
in choosing the quote from the preface to his textbook from Chinese
sage Tai T'ung:

"Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished."

In this line of work one learns to appreciate the wisdom of those


				David Kristofferson, Ph.D.
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				kristoff at

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