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COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET  October 1993, Week 3

COMMUNET October 1993, Week 3

Subject:

Re: network platforms

From:

Jim Hart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Communet: Community and Civic Network Discussion List

Date:

Mon, 18 Oct 1993 10:46:01 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

Jim Burns wrote:
 
>Hello
>I'm going crazy!  Our committee is stuck in a decision concerning  what
>platform we should run our community FreeNet on.
 
I know that my opinion runs counter to what npTn is doing, and what most
FreeNets have done, so far, but...
 
I prefer a multi-modal approach, rather than "lowest common denominator".
Most of the people I support prefer Mac and Windows interfaces, but many
people still have Apple IIs and C-64s.  I also have a strong bias towards
using public domain and freeware, whenever possible.  This keeps cost down,
and means I am not dependent on a single vendor or organization to meet our
needs.  The npTn approach, with FreeNet, is of the "lowest common
denominator" school, i.e. character-based, keyboard-driven interface, "dumb
terminal".  The result is centralized, and uses online time for editting
and posting.  There are some advantages to this approach, but some minuses
are:
 
   1. Online editting ties up phone lines.  Ottawa FreeNet reports, after 6
months of operation, that users are very frustrated trying to get online.
They have 22 phone lines which are busy all the time.  I don't like wasting
my time to deal with busy signals.  Better for the computer to do it.
 
   2.  To maintain longevity, a formal organization, probably a non-profit
corporation, is required.  All the eggs are in one basket.  You don't want
the whole project falling apart because one or two people lose interest.
 
 
npTn is in the process of validating the commercial BBS, First Class, as an
alternative FreeNet platform.  This software does support a nice interface
for Macs and PCs, but, it still uses online time for reading and editing
(unless you are facile with cut-and-paste and care about freeing up the
line for someone else), and, it is a commercial product, from a single
vendor.
 
Alternatives involve some kind of networking of multiple computers.  There
are too many ways to do this for me to list.  Examples are:
 
   a.  uucp-based, dial-up, network, providing e-mail and news, including
local newsgroups.
 
   b.  real-time networking of multiple systems, with an InterNet
connection.  provides a full range of local and InterNet services.
 
   c.  multiple-machine Gopher system -- same as (b), except with a single,
uniform interface.
 
Some minuses to these alternatives:
 
   1.  Not every computer can support the protocols, so dial-in access to
one or more hosts would still be required
 
   2.  Security and control is dependent on individual sysops
 
   3.  There has to be more cooperation and coordination among supporters
 
   4.  It will take some effort to have a single "point-of-contact" for new
users, rather than a "menu" of systems to choose from.
 
On the plus side, though, both graphical and character interfaces can be
supported so people can use what they are used to, distributed systems are
more adaptable to change, dealing with multilingual issues may be easier,
and costs can be _much_ lower.  Since the computers are talking to each
other, most users will never have to deal with busy signals and phone line
useage will be better.  Moreover, if one sysop loses interest, you have
lost only a small piece of the operation, which you can more easily
replace.
 
I don't know...sometimes I have a hard time putting 20-years of experience
into words.  The whole world is moving to distributed, client-server
models...away from centralized, terminal-based systems.  They aren't just
doing it for entertainment value.  :-)
 
 
Hope this helps.
---
James A. (Jim) Hart              Internet: [log in to unmask]
Dept. of Education                   uucp: uunet!bates!aubsch!jimh
23 High St.                           AOL: JAHart
Auburn, Maine  04212-0800           phone: 207-784-6431
USA                                   FAX: 207-784-2969
"The credit belongs to the (person) who is actually in the arena; ... so
that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know
neither defeat nor victory."  Theodore Roosevelt

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