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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  August 1993, Week 2

COMMUNET August 1993, Week 2

Subject:

Toronto Free-Net FAQ

From:

Rick Broadhead <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Communet: Community and Civic Network Discussion List

Date:

Mon, 9 Aug 1993 21:24:15 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (996 lines)

The Toronto Free-Net Committee is pleased to release the following document.
Permission is granted to redistribute the document, so long as it is
distributed in its entirety.  Please do not alter or condense the document
in any way without the prior consent of the author.  Thanks.
 
-Rick
 
 
----
Rick Broadhead                        [log in to unmask]    (Internet)
Faculty of Administrative Studies     ysar1111@yorkvm1         (Bitnet)
York University                    ...!bitnet!yorkvm1!ysar1111 (UUCP)
Toronto, CANADA
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q.  What city is missing from this list?
 
 
                  Dillon, Montana
                  Buffalo, New York
                  Cleveland, Ohio
                  Denver, Colorado
                  Peoria, Illinois
                  Elyria, Ohio
                  Medina, Ohio
                  Ottawa, Ontario
                  Tallahassee, Florida
                  Cincinnati, Ohio
                  Victoria, British Columbia
                  Columbia, Missouri
                  Youngstown, Ohio
                  Wellington, New Zealand
 
 
A.  Toronto
 
*********************************************************************
*                                                                   *
*                                                                   *
*           COMING MARCH 31, 1994.....THE TORONTO FREE-NET          *
*                                                                   *
*                                                                   *
*********************************************************************
 
 
 
        Frequently Asked Questions About the Toronto Free-Net
 
 
                     Version 1.5, August 8, 1993
 
               Prepared by:       Rick Broadhead
                                  Faculty of Administrative Studies
                                  York University, Toronto
               Electronic Mail:   [log in to unmask]
               Telephone:         (416) 487-5017
 
 
 
What is a Free-Net?
 
 
A Free-Net is a free, public-access community computer system.
A Free-Net offers a wide spectrum of on-line information services to
the public, including community and government databases, and worldwide
electronic messaging.  Free-Nets can serve populations of any size.
They can be setup in large metropolitan cities, or small cities or towns.
All services offered by a Free-Net are free to the user, hence the name
"Free-Net".  Free-Nets are gaining acceptance and popularity worldwide,
and several North American cities have one, but because each Free-Net is
tailored to meet the information needs of the local community, no two
Free-Nets are identical.
 
Think of the Toronto Free-Net as a large on-line encyclopedia about
Toronto.  We place information on a large, dedicated computer, hook it
up to the city's phone system, and made it available seven days a week,
24 hours a day, to the general public, free-of-charge.  A Free-Net is
capable of supporting hundreds of users simultaneously, but the
number of local users that can simultaneously use the Free-Net depends
on the number of phone lines that we have running into the system.
 
Information providers are organizations that give us information to place
on the Free-Net.  Information providers and other volunteers are the
lifeblood of a Free-Net.  They work together to keep the information on
the Free-Net up-to-date, and they ensure that the information keeps
pace with the community's information needs.  Free-Nets invite
information providers from all sectors of the community to supply
information for placement on the system.  In cooperation with other
volunteers, they generously donate their time and effort to maintain and
update their information on the Free-Net.
 
Using a computer and a modem, anyone in Toronto will be
able to connect to the Free-Net and view our databases,
as well as communicate with the participating organizations.
If you don't have a computer and a modem, there's no need to worry.
We plan to have public access terminals located throughout Toronto.
 
 
Who Can Place Information on the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
Information providers can be community and professional
associations, clubs, charitable organizations, the government,
and educational or service institutions - any entity that
wants to communicate information to the general public.  Every
participating organization will be given a dedicated space on the
system to post its information.
 
 
What is the Toronto Free-Net Committee?
 
 
The Toronto Free-Net Committee is a group of volunteers who
want to establish a Free-Net in Toronto.  The committee has
representatives from businesses, academic institutions, the
government, and the community.  All three Toronto universities
(York University, Ryerson Polytechnic University, and the
University of Toronto) have representatives on the committee.
A 12 member Board of Directors presides over the committee and oversees
a number of sub-committees which are responsible for matters such as
public relations, fund-raising, member services, information resources,
and hardware and software planning.
 
The Toronto Free-Net is a not-for-profit organization with legal
status.  We are incorporated under the name Toronto Free-Net
Inc., and our objectives and by-laws are available to anyone on request.
 
 
What is Our Mandate?
 
 
The mandate of the Toronto Free-Net Committee is to provide the residents
of Metropolitan Toronto with free, electronic access to community-related
information, while giving information providers a means to disseminate
their information as widely and as economically as possible.
 
 
The Public Library Analogy
 
 
Free-Nets are destined to become as important an institution as the
public library.  It is hard to imagine a community without a public
library.  In the near future, community computer systems will become just
as commonplace.  In fact, Free-Nets are modelled on the same principle
as public libraries.  They provide information to the community, at no
charge to the user.
 
Historically, libraries were privately owned and access was restricted
to special classes of society - the wealthy and elite, scholars, and
university students.  The last century has witnessed a shift in the role
that libraries play in our society.  They have become free, open-access
facilities, performing a vital service to the community, serving people
in all classes of society, and from all walks of life.
 
In the same way that libraries were once the domain of the rich and
elite, use of information technology has historically been confined to
certain groups in society.  The penetration of computers into the home
and office and increased computer literacy have provided an opportunity
for community computer systems to flourish.  Free-Nets bring information
technology within reach of all classes in society, and they don't charge
for their services.
 
 
How Many Free-Nets are There in the World?  In Canada?
 
 
At the time of this writing, there are 14 other Free-Net systems
in the world.  11 of these are in the United States, 2 are in Canada,
and 1 is in New Zealand.  The first community computer system was
launched in Cleveland, Ohio in 1986.  Three years after its opening, the
Cleveland Free-Net was handling between 500-600 calls every day on ten
incoming phone lines.  Today, it has over 120 phone lines, serving
more than 36,000 users and handling over 11,000 calls a day.  Free-Net
systems are also operating in Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri,
Montana, New York and Florida.
 
The first Canadian Free-Net was established in November, 1992 in
Victoria, B.C.  Shortly thereafter, the National Capital FreeNet
opened in Ottawa.  Within three months of its official opening in
February 1993, the National Capital FreeNet had grown to 5,800
registered users and 40 incoming phone lines.  Calls to the National
Capital FreeNet top 16,000 a week, and applications for membership
are being received at a rate of 50-100 a day!
 
 
Are Other Free-Nets Being Planned?
 
Yes.  "Free-Net Fever" is sweeping North America.  There are
presently over 45 other Free-Net organizing committees around
the world.  Toronto is one of eight Canadian centres planning a Free-Net
for its residents.  Edmonton, Alberta; Elliot Lake, Ontario;
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Trail, B.C.; Prince George, B.C.; and Vancouver,
B.C. also have formal Free-Net organizing committees.  There is also a
Free-Net being planned for the Ontario Niagara region (including
St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, and the surrounding area).
For more information about the Niagara Free-Net Association, contact
Jon Radue of Brock University - <[log in to unmask]> or
<416 688-5550 ext. 3867>.
 
U.S. cities planning Free-Nets include Anchorage, Alaska; Charlotte,
North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Providence,
Rhode Island; Seattle, Washington; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Detroit,
Michigan; and Washington, D.C.
 
The following is a list of cities that have Free-Net organizing
committees.
 
 
          Free-Net Organizing Committees (July 1993)
 
 
   Abilene, TX                         Honolulu, HI
   Akron, OH                           Huntsville, AL
   Anchorage, AK                       Los Angeles (Central), CA
   Ann Arbor, MI                       Los Angeles (Valley), CA
   Battle Creek, MI                    New Orleans, LA
   Bayreuth, Germany                   Oklahoma City, OK
   Bremerton, WA                       Orange County, CA
   Carbondale, IL                      Palm Beach, FL
   Champaign-Urbana, IL                Providence, RI
   Chapel Hill, NC                     San Luis Obispo, CA
   Charlotte, NC                       Santa Barbara, CA
   Dallas, TX                          Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
   Dayton, OH                          South Bend, Indiana
   Detroit, MI                         Seattle, WA
   Eau Claire, WI                      Tampa, FL
   Edmonton, Alberta                   Tempe, AZ
   Elliot Lake, Ontario                Toronto, Ontario
   Erlangen, Germany                   Trail, British Columbia
   Gainesville, FL                     Traverse City, MI
   Granger, IN                         Tuscaloosa, AL
   Grass Valley, CA                    Vancouver, Br. Columbia
   Helsinki, Finland                   Washington, DC
   Houston, TX                         Grass Valley, CA
   San Jose, CA                        Fort Lauderdale, FL
   Mountain View, CA                   West Chester, PA
   Victoria, TX                        St Catharines, Ontario
   Prince George, Br. Columbia         Toledo, OH
   Pittsburg, PA
 
 
What Does It Cost to Join/Use the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
There is no membership fee, and there is no charge to access any of the
information on the Toronto Free-Net or to use any of its services.  Use
of the Toronto Free-Net is completely and absolutely free.  A basic
premise of the Free-Net concept is that users not be charged to use the
system.  We expect to receive funding from businesses, the government,
community associations, and individuals.
 
 
What is Electronic Mail?
 
 
Electronic Mail is the capability of sending an electronic message
to another person.  It is one of the most popular and fastest growing
uses of computers today.  Not only will Toronto Free-Net users be able to
send electronic messages locally to other Toronto Free-Net members, they
will also be able to send electronic messages across Canada and around
to world - to their friends, relatives, or business associates who
also have access to electronic mail.  All registered users will
receive a unique electronic mail address on the Toronto Free-Net.  With
this electronic mail address, Free-Net users will be able to receive
messages from anyone who is connected to the Internet, the largest
computer network in the world.
 
The concept of electronic mail is simple to understand.  Rather than
handwrite a message to someone, you key in a message on the Free-Net,
and the computer will deliver it for you, providing that your
correspondent has an electronic mail address that you can send the
message to.
 
Once the message is typed and ready to be delivered, you select the
"send" option from a menu on the screen, and the computer will
dispatch the message.  The delivery process takes place in the
background, and is invisible to the user.  The transparent operation
of the Internet is why this technology is often referred to as
"seamless".  On the Toronto Free-Net, you'll be able to communicate
with people all over the world as if they were right next door.  Of
course, you'll also be able to send electronic messages to local
organizations and Toronto residents who are using the Toronto Free-Net.
 
If the recipient is a member of Toronto Free-Net, the message will be
placed in the addressee's electronic mailbox, where it will remain
until the recipient connects to the Toronto Free-Net to read it.  All
registered users of the Toronto Free-Net will be notified by the
system when they have new mail waiting.
 
If the recipient is at another location, your electronic message will
leave the Toronto Free-Net and be sent over high-speed telephone lines
and in some cases, satellite links.  During its journey, your message
will travel through one or more computer networks.  Once your message
reaches the right computer site, it will be placed in the appropriate
electronic mailbox.
 
Electronic mail offers many advantages over traditional communication
mediums, such as the telephone and postal system, and newer technologies,
such as the facsimile.  Because electronic mail will be free to all
registered users of the Toronto Free-Net, it will be cheaper than fax
or a long distance phone call.  Electronic mail is also incredibly
fast.  Providing the delivery route is clear, electronic
messages can travel around the world in minutes or hours,
depending on the location of the recipient.  It is not unusual for
messages to travel between Canadian cities in seconds, or between
continents in under a minute.
 
Electronic mail has many other benefits.  It overcomes differences
in time zones, eliminates telephone tag, and improves
information flow.  Note that while there are many advantages
to electronic mail, because messages may travel through several sites
en route to their destination, privacy cannot be guaranteed.
 
 
What is the Internet?
 
 
The Toronto Free-Net will be linked to the Internet, an international
computer network which connects an estimated 10 to 15 million people
in over 40 countries, and on all five continents.  Yes, there is
even an Internet connection to Antarctica!  Linking over 1.5
million computers worldwide, the Internet is the largest and fastest
growing computer network in the world.  It more than doubled in the size
over the past year.  The Internet is often described as a single network,
but it is actually a network of networks, encompassing over 11,000
computer networks which span the globe.  Scientists, researchers,
journalists, politicians, librarians, business executives, educators,
politicians, hobbyists, and activists are just some of the people
who use the Internet's high-speed data networks to communicate with
distant colleagues and friends.
 
 
Are There Any Restrictions on Commercial Use of the Internet?
 
 
Yes.  Correspondence for commercial purposes (i.e. marketing,
advertising, invoicing, etc.) is subject to Acceptable Use
Policies once it leaves the Toronto Free-Net.  Acceptable Use Policies
are rules that govern the content of electronic mail on computer
networks.  Electronic mail leaving the Toronto Free-Net may pass through
several other computer networks on its way to the destination site.  Each
of these intermediate networks may have its own Acceptable Use Policy,
which may prohibit commercial traffic.  The Toronto Free-Net will have
Acceptable Use Policies of its own, but these have not yet been
decided.
 
 
What are Electronic Discussion Groups?
 
 
The Toronto Free-Net will carry hundreds of electronic discussion groups.
These are on-going topical discussions on hundreds of subjects ranging
from popular topics like electronics, cooking, fishing, and
music to more obscure ones like locksmithing, pyrotechnics, and
kite-flying.  Discussions take place in designated areas on the Free-Net
called conferences or "newsgroups".  From their home or office computer,
Free-Net users will have access to experts on almost every imaginable
topic.
 
 
Here's How It Works:
 
Just as you read your favourite columns in the newspaper, each time
you connect to the Toronto Free-Net, you'll want to read your
favourite discussion groups.  For example, if you collect stamps,
you'll probably want to follow that discussion regularly.  Discussions
consist of electronic messages from contributors around the world.
Discussions are organized into topics, like geology or religion.  When
you see a message that you want to respond to, you can send the person
a private message using the Toronto Free-Net's electronic mail system.
When that person receives your message, he can write back to you using
your Internet address (which you will receive upon joining the Toronto
Free-Net).  The wonderful thing about the Internet is that your
correspondent may be anywhere in the world!
 
When you want to join a discussion, you type a message, and
leave it in the appropriate conference or newsgroup for others to
to see.  The message may be a question, a reply to another
message, a comment, or an opinion.  Anyone who wants to reply to your
message can either respond to your private electronic mailbox
on the Toronto Free-Net, or type a public reply in the conference, where
it can be viewed by everyone.  Depending on where you want to leave the
message, it may remain on the Toronto Free-Net computer, where it will
receive only local distribution, or it may be circulated to hundreds of
participating computer sites around the world, where hundreds of people
will see it.
 
 
Electronic discussion groups allow lively, informative
dialogues to take place on-line, while permitting users to exchange
information and ideas with other people around the world who
share their interests.
 
Discussion groups are also a great place to seek the advice of others,
since they provide an opportunity to tap the collective expertise of
dozens of people.  Because discussions will be grouped by subject, it
will be easy for Free-Net users to find people with specific interests.
 
The Toronto Free-Net expects to feature three types of electronic
discussion groups: community-oriented Special Interest Groups, Usenet,
and Internet mailing lists.  Each of these is described below.
 
 
Special Interest Groups
 
 
Special Interest Groups are on-line discussion groups where the
subject matter is of local interest.  Special Interest Groups have
many uses:
 
*  Community associations and clubs in Toronto could establish their
   own Special Interest Groups to promote their services
   and activities and respond to questions from the public
 
*  Individuals could set up Special Interest Groups to discuss topics
   of personal interest with other Free-Net users
 
*  Experts in the community could offer their knowledge to the
   public by hosting "Ask An Expert" conferences.  These conferences
   would provide an open forum where Free-Net users could submit
   questions and have them answered by experts.  Possible "Ask An
   Expert" conferences include:
 
            * Ask a Veterinarian
            * Ask an Auto Mechanic
            * Ask a Home Repair Expert
            * Ask a Legal Expert
            * Ask a Garden Expert
            * Ask a Travel Agent
            * Ask a Librarian
 
The Toronto Free-Net Committee is interested in hearing from anyone
who would be willing to volunteer their time to host an
"Ask An Expert" conference.
 
 
Usenet
 
It is expected that the Toronto Free-Net will also provide its users with
access to Usenet, an international computer conferencing system which
carries thousands of electronic discussion groups on hundreds of topics.
Free-Net users will be able to participate in thousands of electronic
discussions with over 2.5 million other people around the world.  Imagine
being able to submit a question to an electronic discussion group and
have answers from all around the world waiting in your electronic mailbox
the very next day!
 
 
Internet Mailing Lists
 
In addition to Usenet, Toronto Free-Net users will be able to join any
of the thousands of scientific, academic, and hobbyist discussion groups
that exist on the Internet.
 
 
What Type of Information Will I See on the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
The Toronto Free-Net will be an electronic information resource for the
residents of Metropolitan Toronto.  It will feature information on a
wide array of topics, including medical and health care, education, law,
science and technology, social services, government, entertainment,
and recreation.  The possibilities are endless.
 
Here are examples of the type of information that the Toronto
Free-Net could provide to the public.  This list is only a start -
your imagination is the limit.
 
 
Community Events
 
announcements of.....
 
public meetings, lectures, workshops, fairs, ethnic events, church and
religious activities, fund-raising activities, conferences, seminars,
speakers, club meetings, special events....
 
 
Entertainment/Leisure
 
movie listings, movie reviews, restaurant reviews and listings,
concert listings, theatre listings, club listings,
new video releases, local television listings, book reviews,
Blue Jays/Leafs/Argos game schedules, sports scores, winning lottery
numbers, parks and recreation information, high school sports events,
city cycling information.....
 
 
Government
 
garbage collection schedules, snow removal information, newspaper pick-up
information, recycling information, municipal/provincial/federal
government telephone directories, information on Federal and Provincial
Government ministries/agencies/departments, information on
municipal/provincial/federal government services and programs, directory
of Members of Parliament, elections information (polling stations, lists
of candidates), disaster preparedness information, services for seniors,
energy and hydro information, government databases, government documents
and publications, tax information, postal codes and rates....
 
 
Health and Safety
 
first aid instructions, Crimestoppers, crime prevention tips,
fire prevention information, drug abuse information, AIDS prevention
information, medical and health databases.....
 
 
News/Weather
 
local, provincial, national, and international news headlines, weather
forecasts....
 
 
Transportation
 
road and highway conditions, TTC route and fare information, VIA
schedules and ticket prices, GO Transit route and fare information,
airline schedules....
 
 
Travel and Tourism
 
convention and visitor information, travel and tourist information,
hotel/motel directories, sightseeing information, information on tourist
attractions in Toronto, information from foreign embassies
and consulates, travel advisories...
 
 
Education
 
directory of school trustees, public and separate school directories,
college and university program information, alternative education
information, information on continuing education programs....
 
 
Employment
 
job listings, union activities, employment standards information, job
training information....
 
 
Legal
 
legal aid services, general legal information
 
 
Library Information
 
 
We expect that the Toronto Free-Net will provide on-line access
to public library catalogues across Metropolitan Toronto.  Our goal is
to make it possible for Free-Net users to search the library holdings of
all six municipal library systems in Metro from the Toronto Free-Net.
Library representatives from East York, Etobicoke, North York,
Scarborough, Toronto, and York are working closely with the
Toronto Free-Net Committee.  The Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library
is also involved in the discussions.  We also hope to link the Toronto
Free-Net to university library catalogues around the world.
 
 
The Toronto Media
 
 
Ottawa's daily newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen, uses the
National Capital FreeNet to post guides to community events, the Arts,
sports, dining, and entertainment.  The Ottawa Citizen also has a
mailbox on the National Capital FreeNet so that users can electronically
submit a letter to the Editor.  We hope that the Toronto media will
participate on the Toronto Free-Net in a similar fashion.  The media
could use the Free-Net to receive suggestions and comments, letters to
columnists/broadcasters, and other items for publication/broadcast.
In addition, radio and television stations could place their broadcast
schedules on the Toronto Free-Net.
 
Here's just one example of how the media can use Free-Nets to
disseminate information to the community.  Shortly after Prime
Minister Kim Campbell announced her new cabinet, the Ottawa Citizen
posted the list of new ministers on the National Capital FreeNet.
Callers to the FreeNet were able to review the ministerial line-up
on-line and download (transfer) the list to their personal computers.
 
 
Who Will Pay For the Operation of the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
Free-Nets depend on the generosity of the community.  It is expected that
the operating costs of the Toronto Free-Net will be covered by grants
and donations from the government, businesses in the community, and
from the users themselves.
 
By far, our greatest expense will be the phone bill.  To help us offset
this cost, businesses and organizations will have the opportunity to
sponsor phone lines.  Callers who receive a sponsored line will see the
name of the sponsor on the screen.
 
 
How Do I Become a Member of the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
In order to have full use of the facilities on the Toronto Free-Net,
users will be required to complete and mail a registration form.  There
is no fee to register, except for the cost of a postage stamp.  The
registration form will be available on the Free-Net itself, as well as
at public libraries throughout Metro Toronto.  Anyone will be able to
access the Toronto Free-Net as a guest, and look around, but only
registered users will be given an account, and allowed to use all of the
services on the Free-Net.  When you register with us, you become a
member of the Toronto Free-Net.  You'll be assigned a personal account
name and a password.  An account is necessary in order to send and
receive electronic mail.
 
 
Is There a Time Limit on my Free-Net Session?
 
 
Yes.  To give everyone an opportunity to use the system, all users will
be subject to a limit of one hour on their Free-Net session.  However,
there is no limit on the number of sessions that a Free-Net user can have
on any given day.
 
 
How Will I Access the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
Anyone with a computer, a modem, and a telephone line will be able to
access the Toronto Free-Net by dialing a central telephone
number in Toronto.  The Toronto Free-Net will be menu-driven.  Once you
connect to the Free-Net, you'll be able to move around the system by
selecting options from menus on the screen.
 
 
Is Computer Literacy a Prerequisite to Use the Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
No.  Our committees are working hard to develop a system that is
easy to use, regardless of the user's level of computer experience.
The Toronto Free-Net is a community computer system, and the
community must be able to use it.  When resources permit,
we intend to develop manuals and run training sessions
to ensure that our users are able to make optimal use of
the system.  Ease of use is one of our most important priorities.
 
 
Where Will the Toronto Free-Net be Located?
 
 
The Toronto Free-Net's administrative offices and its physical facilities
(i.e. the Free-Net computers) will be located in Metropolitan Toronto;
precise locations have not yet been determined.
 
 
Will the Toronto Free-Net Require Any Paid Personnel?
 
 
Yes.  While the Toronto Free-Net will be largely run by volunteers,
the size and scope of the system will make it necessary for us to hire
some staff.  A typical Free-Net will have a full-time Project Manager
or Executive Director, a system manager, a system administrator, and
clerical and technical support staff.
 
 
What If I Don't Have a Computer?
 
 
Public access terminals will be established at libraries throughout
Metropolitan Toronto for those people who don't have the capability of
calling the Toronto Free-Net from their home or office.  We expect that
community centers, schools, and hotels will want to provide public access
terminals as well.  Public access terminals can be established virtually
anywhere in the city.
 
 
Are Free-Nets Interconnected?
 
 
Yes. The Toronto Free-Net will be connected to other Free-Nets around the
world.  This means that users of the Toronto Free-Net will be able to
access the information on other community computer systems across the
United States and around the world.  The Toronto Free-Net will be part
of a growing network of community computer systems.
 
 
Here's How It Works:
 
On the Toronto Free-Net, there will be a list of all the
participating Free-Nets in the world.  To go to another Free-Net,
you select that Free-Net from the menu, and the connection is made
automatically.  When the connection is in place, you will be physically
connected to the other Free-Net computer, just as if you were living in
the host city, and dialling the Free-Net locally.  As more and more
Free-Nets come on-line, the list of cities that you can electronically
"travel" to will grow.  It's conceivable that every major metropolitan
city will eventually have a community computer system of its own.  From
the Toronto Free-Net, you'll be able to access organizations,
individuals, and local information, just about anywhere in the world.
Just think of the possibilities!
 
In order to have full use of the services on another Free-Net, you'll
have to register with them first, just as you have to register with
us to have unrestricted access to our facility.  But most Free-Nets will
accept registrations from outside their local calling area, so you don't
have to be a local resident to use the system.  Bear in mind that
registration isn't necessary if all you want to do is read the
information on another Free-Net.  Most Free-Nets will permit people to
use their system as a "guest".  A guest is a term for an unregistered
user, or a non-member.  Guests are free to look around the system and
view the databases, but they can't send or receive electronic mail.
 
Naturally, the Toronto Free-Net will be accepting connections from users
on other Free-Nets, just as other Free-Nets will accept connections from
our users.  We will also be accepting registrations from anywhere in the
world.  You don't have to be a Toronto resident to use the system,
or become a member of the Toronto Free-Net, but the information on the
Free-Net will be local and community-based.  Many of the people that
connect to the Toronto Free-Net from around the world will be using our
system as a guest.  But we also expect to have many international users
register with us, and become members.
 
You will be able to connect to the Toronto Free-Net via the Internet, or
by dialing a Toronto telephone number (area code 416).
 
 
How Will the Toronto Free-Net Impact Tourism?
 
 
While the Toronto Free-Net's primary focus is to serve the local
community, it will have an international audience.  The information on
the Toronto Free-Net will be available to thousands of people around the
globe, since it will be possible for anyone on the global Internet to
tap into the Toronto Free-Net and browse our databases.  The Toronto
Free-Net is already attracting international attention, and once we
open our doors to the public, people from all over the world will be able
to use the Toronto Free-Net to discover what Toronto has to offer the
visitor.   Without question, our tourism industry will benefit from the
exposure that the city will receive as a result of the Toronto
Free-Net's presence on the Internet.
 
We expect that Free-Net terminals will be placed in hotel lobbies across
Toronto so that tourists and other visitors can use the system to get
information about the city.  Tourists could use the Toronto Free-Net to:
 
                   * find a taxicab
                   * get public transit information
                   * get a list of tourist attractions, their operating
                     hours and entrance fees
                   * obtain a list of restaurants in the city
                   * get the addresses of consulates and embassies
                     in Toronto
                   * get general facts about Toronto
                     (population, history, etc.)
 
 
 
Are Free-Nets Independent?
 
 
Each Free-Net is run autonomously, but all Free-Nets are affiliates of
the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), based in Cleveland,
Ohio.  The NPTN distributes the software needed to run a Free-Net,
provides support to existing Free-Nets, and promotes the development of
community computer systems.  The NPTN also organizes an annual
meeting, which brings together representatives from all its
affiliates.  The term "Free-Net" is a registered servicemark of the
NPTN, so only affiliates of the NPTN are allowed to call themselves
a Free-Net.
 
 
Who Will Benefit From a Toronto Free-Net?
 
 
Residents
 
 
Residents are given free access to a wealth of community-related
information.  By removing economic and social barriers to information,
the Toronto Free-Net will make information more accessible to the public.
 
Because the Toronto Free-Net will be connected to the Internet, Toronto
Free-Net users will be able to correspond electronically with municipal,
provincial, and federal government offices that use the Internet.  The
Toronto Free-Net will make it easier for officials at all
levels of government to communicate with their constituents.  It
is projected that by the end of 1995, all Federal Government officials
will have e-mail.  And by the end of this year, all Ontario Government
electronic mail accounts are expected to be conencted to the Internet.
 
 
The Community
 
 
Because the Toronto Free-Net is a volunteer effort, it
provides new and exciting opportunities for individuals to become
more involved in their community - by providing information to
the Free-Net, starting a Special Interest Group, serving on a Free-Net
committee, or simply by interacting with other Toronto Free-Net users.
 
Clubs and community groups will benefit from the Toronto Free-Net's
electronic messaging facilities, which will expedite communications
and make it easier for groups to share information, coordinate their
activities, and liaise with the public.  The Toronto Free-Net has
tremendous potential to draw the community closer together.
 
 
Community/Professional Associations and Government
 
 
Clubs and community groups will enhance their public relations by
participating on the Toronto Free-Net as an information provider.
Community organizations that establish an electronic mailbox on the
Free-Net will increase their accessibility and visibility to the
general public.  At any time of the day or night, Free-Net users can
leave messages for participating organizations and access information
on government and community services.  The Toronto Free-Net will
provide an innovative and powerful way for community organizations to
communicate with the public.
 
The government will find that the Toronto Free-Net provides a fast,
effective, and efficient way to distribute important information to
the community.
 
 
Seniors and People With Disabilities
 
 
Senior citizens and people with disabilities will be able to access and
exchange information easily and at no charge, without leaving their home.
 
 
Teachers and Educators
 
 
The Free-Net will provide a cost-effective means for public and
secondary schools to teach telecomputing to their students.  Teachers
and students will be able to communicate with their counterparts
around the world, using the Free-Net's electronic mail system.  Many
public and secondary schools in the U.S. and Canada already have some
connection to the Internet.
 
 
Another Benefit:  Increased Computer Literacy
 
 
Computer literacy will increase in the community as people learn how to
use the Toronto Free-Net to gain quick and easy access to information
resources electronically.  Because the Toronto Free-Net will give its
members access to modern telecommunications facilities, users will
develop an understanding and an appreciation of the role and importance
of electronic communications and information technology.
 
 
How Will the Toronto Free-Net Affect Employment?
 
 
The Toronto Free-Net has the potential to create new employment
opportunities in community and government organizations that actively
participate on the system.  Once organizations realize the benefits of
being involved with the Free-Net, they may assign personnel to serve
as the organization's liaison with the Free-Net.  These people would
update the organization's information on the Free-Net and manage the
organization's Free-Net mailbox.  They would also be responsible for
finding new ways for the organization to use the Toronto Free-Net to
improve its relations with the public.
 
 
How Will the Free-Net be Different from Bulletin Board
Systems and Commercial Services?
 
 
* The Toronto Free-Net will be free to the user, unlike commercial
  systems which charge for their services.
 
* The Toronto Free-Net will not be suitable for heavy commercial traffic
 
* The Toronto Free-Net has a mandate that is community-oriented, unlike
  many large commercial systems and small bulletin board systems,
  which have a much narrower focus, and appeal to users with specific
  interests.  The Toronto Free-Net will have dozens of community
  databases.  We'll have something for everyone!
 
* Many bulletin board systems are chat or message-oriented, and are
  designed for the computer hobbyist.  The Toronto Free-Net will
  be information-oriented, and it will be designed with the community
  user in mind.  No computer experience required!
 
* The Toronto Free-Net will not have software archives or offer
  computer programs.  The one exception may be off-line mail readers.
 
* The Toronto Free-Net will be funded by government and business
  donations
 
* The Toronto Free-Net will be very easy to navigate and use
 
 
It is not our intention to compete with commercial and smaller, private
systems.  The Toronto Free-Net will actually expand the market for
commercial services and bulletin board systems by increasing computer
literacy in the community.  We want to work with operators of bulletin
board systems and the larger commercial systems to promote their use and
make the general public aware of their existence.
 
 
When Will the Toronto Free-Net Be Operational?
 
 
The official launch date is March 31, 1994, but our rate of progress
depends on the amount of support we receive from the community.
 
 
Who Can Participate?
 
 
Everyone in Metro Toronto is invited to participate.  This is a community
effort, and there is an opportunity for everyone in the city to get
involved.
 
 
Does the Toronto Free-Net Committee Need My Help?
 
 
Yes!
 
We are actively seeking volunteers to help with public relations,
fund-raising, hardware and software issues, organizational
matters, and information collection.
 
We need clubs, community and professional associations, and the
government to contribute information to the Free-Net.  How can your
organization participate?
 
We are looking for institutions that are interested in being a public
access site for the Toronto Free-Net.
 
We need financial support to cover the costs of phone lines and
hardware/software.
 
 
How Can I or My Business or Association Get Involved?
 
 
Please contact anyone on the Board of Directors or one of the Committee
Chairs to find how you or your organization can contribute to the
development of the Toronto Free-Net.  We need volunteers from the
commmunity, as well as the involvement of businesses and community
associations to help the Toronto Free-Net achieve its true potential.
 
 
Need More Information?
 
 
All Free-Net committees meet regularly.  Call the Toronto Free-Net's
automated information line at 568-9944 (fax 568-9945) for the dates
and times of upcoming meetings.
 
Toronto residents with access to a personal computer and a modem are
invited to the call the 1000 BBS, which is hosting a conference for
the discussion of the Toronto Free-Net.  The telephone number is
(416) 629-7259 (8N1).  The Toronto Free-Net conference is #4.
 
 
 
Toronto Free-Net Board of Directors
 
 
Rick Broadhead     487-5017   [log in to unmask]
Jim Carroll        855-2950   [log in to unmask]
Allan Earle        597-6947   [log in to unmask]
Bev Green          629-7260   [log in to unmask]
Sam Lanfranco      736-5237   [log in to unmask]
Richard Malinski   979-5142   [log in to unmask]
Colin McGregor     487-9613   [log in to unmask]
Jud Newell         347-2290   [log in to unmask]
Tim Pinos          869-5784   [log in to unmask]
Laine Ruus         978-5365   [log in to unmask]
Sam Sternberg      636-3354   [log in to unmask]
David Tallan       944-3782   [log in to unmask]
 
 
President:                           Jud Newell
Vice-Presidents:                     Colin McGregor, Laine Ruus
Treasurer:                           Sam Sternberg
 
 
 
Committee Chairs:
 
 
Information       Michael DeKoven   925-8484    [log in to unmask]
Resources         Chris Smith       314-7632    [log in to unmask]
 
Member Services   Evan Ross         486-0698    [log in to unmask]
Hardware/Software Colin McGregor    487-9613    [log in to unmask]
Fund-Raising      Sam Sternberg     636-3354    [log in to unmask]
Publicity         Joey Schwartz     966-0593    [log in to unmask]
                  Sharon Singer     488-2832    N/A

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