|A discussion from 1996 about
the influence of the global Internet, WWW, new e-mail facilities
on the future of the old BBS/FIDO system
between Mathijs Kok, Rainer Labie, Miguel Blaufuks and Jos Grupping.
Area: [FsFan] Main Message Area (INT) Msg#: 10589 Local Date: 09 Feb 96 23:19
From: Jos Grupping Read: Yes Replied: Na Ta: All Mark:
Subj: BBS, E-mail, Internet and www
@MSGID: 81:100/656.0 311c2501 Dear all,
This message is about E-mail, BBS's and the Internet and how I think that these could or should be used in the most effective and efficient way.
I joined FSFAN about a year ago and in FS-terms I am less than a rookie (this definitely should trigger Roelof Kruijer too, if he reads this). But with E-mail, BBS'S, Internet (WWW) and computers in general my experience is somewhat greater. With great pleasure I have been downloading lots of megabytes of files from FSFAN-BBS (even uploading l or 2). And of course I have been watching the net-mail with great interest, reading most and posting some messages of my own, using Bluewave to spare PTT-ticks. Recently this has all become a little handier and certainly cheaper when Robert Tournay joined the FSFAN BBS's with his (for me local) Apocalyps BBS in Nijmegen, very well organized too.
With regards to (PD) sceneries, aircraft, navplanners, tools etc. the FSFAN BBS's are well equipped and very well organised. It is inevitable that from time to time the area's tend to become a bit clogged due to the never ending stream of files that all the other FS-simmers produce to our mutual benefit. And I am glad to give them a small hand to keep things clean by pointing out obsolete or wrongly placed files. I would like to thank Jan Piet, Peter, Hans and all the other sysops for the enormous amount of work and time they have put into this. Do you guys ever sleep?
When I first started to look around on the FSFAN-BBS, I also found a lot of informative files like IMPROVE.ZIP by Roelof Kruijer (how to let FS5 run better) and scenery-overviews by Mathijs Kok etc., that were very helpful, especially for the newcomer. Unfortunately this kind of files tends to become outdated quickly if they are not updated on a regular basis. For me they were invaluable to get FS5 up and running correctly and to learn which sceneries etc. were available and which were good.
Like I said, I have been reading a lot of the e-mail and learned quite a lot from them, if only to know who are the real hot-shots. But after a while I became aware of some (repeating) patterns. Or the one hand there is the incrowd, who send each other messages that become more and more difficult to follow because they are getting deeper and deeper into the difficult things in FS and related tools. On the other hand we see an everlasting stream of newcomers, asking the same questions over and over again: about what is the best PC or video card, yoke, rudders (after a while) etc. About incompatibilities between sceneries, about what are the best aircraft and panels; do you really need FSFS ("yes, you do") , etc.
And they are always welcomed very kindly and politely by the moderator: I know, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers!. And others, like myself, are patiently entering the same answers and information over and over again. Don't take me wrong: this is not meant as a demeanour in any way; we were all newbies at one time (and in many way I myself still am) .But I can1t help to think that this is not the way we should use e-mail. It is a much too volatile medium to distribute information of that kind. It is a waste of time and more often than not, the chance is that the information is only read by a few and then fades away in a matter of a week or so.
What we should do instead is, that we should maintain those primary informative files like IMPROVE.ZIP, update them on a regularly basis and create good entries so that newcomers can easily be pointed to these sources of knowledge and we don't have to repeat the answers again and again and never as good as in well written and organised information files. That way newcomers also become easily acquainted with all the other sources on the BBS's. I was very pleased when I saw that Matthew Campman already was busy assembling the AIRLINE.ZIP file that covers at least part of this info-need. Very good work indeed.
Now for the future.
I would have ended my message (which is of course already much too long) here, weren't it for the fact that a whole new scene is developing: the use of Internet and the WWW (World Wide Web) in particular and very rapidly indeed. It is taking over the whole scene of BBS's and net-mail. And many of the internationally famous FS-simmers are moving to the WWW as well. Why?
That is because the Internet/WWW has some big advantages. The first is that it is completely graphical and much nicer to see (and aren't we all kids?) and easier to use. You see what you do, you can add pictures to the texts, you can see what you get before e.g. downloading. The second is that it is very easy to maintain and update information-files and make them readable and downloadable for everyone that has access to the Internet. And the WWW has one marvellous aspect: you can link it all together as one big picture- book. You don't have to copy it everywhere like we do now on the BBS's. Everyone can be responsible for a small part: the part that he is best in.
These advantages can, however, also quickly become disadvantages. The ease of adding hyperlinks as easily gives total chaos and even more waste than we had before if everybody does the same. And the nice graphical from lures one into lingering longer, costing much of one's valuable time and, not least: money, because the telephone-meter keeps ticking. Not counting the fee you have to pay your "provider" in advance. But this last part becomes cheaper everyday: I now have a local provider for less than ƒ 250 /year!
But is has enormous potential and if we manage to organize it right, the Internet and especially the WWW, can mean a vast improvement over the current situation of BBS's. But we should start by making a good plan of how we should organize the whole and divide the workload in manageable portions. The whole thing can, because of the powerful hyperlink-structure, also be a multinational or even worldwide approach, but let us first set up a good European structure.
We should add one or several (linked) and well organised file-transfer sites that have enough capacity for everybody to download what he needs. Well organised also means maintained by teams, that screen and mark new files as not so good or good or top of the bill. The recent set-up of groups of test- pilots is a good step in that direction. If you go take a look at the other side of the big sea, you can see it already happen: they are a little bit ahead, but I am not sure that everything is managed as good as it could be.
One thing that puzzles me however is the e-mail. This is done as easy or even easier on the Internet as our current net- or echo-mail. But if you follow the mail on the Internet, you also see some signs of degeneration, like the whole fake discussion about the interaction between the new FSFS and alleged "beta"-versions of FS 5.1, that never existed in the first place. And lots of people jumped in with all sorts of accusations with no reason or evidence. It scared me away and probably many others, this pure waste of time and energy. And it quickly becomes so massive, that it has no added value any more.
So maybe we should keep our e-mail as it is now, improving as I tried to explain above. But if we do things right, e-mail of that kind becomes not so necessary any more, giving more room to other purposes as the chats in the Hurricane Bar or the handling of flight-reports. But the last could also be done and maybe easier by filling in forms on the WWW-pages. And a lot of the rest of the e-mail should become obsolete by assembling good lists of FAQ's (frequently asked questions), with good answers of course. And these should be well maintained and given a prominent place.
Well, for those who have read this far: I should have stopped long before or have tried to say the same in much less words. I hope that I have made my point and I hope that this help to find the right direction for the new developments, that certainly lie ahead of us. Because that is what it is all about: get the most for as many people as possible out of the combined efforts of all FSFAN'ers.
Good Luck and may the winds be in your favour.
Jos Grupping from Overasselt,
..."The modem is the message" ---Blue Wave v2.12
* Crigin: Apocalyps BBS --For all your FS 5.x stuff-- (81:100/656)
Area: [FsFan] Main Message Area (INT) Msg#: 10506 Rec'd Date: 11 Feb 96
From: Mathijs Kok Read: Yes Rep: To: Jos Grupping Mark:
Subj: BBS, E-mail, Internet and www
@MSGID: 81:81/1.1@FsFannet.ftn 150dlc5f
> This message is about E-mail, BBS's and the Internet and how I
> think that these could or should be used in the most effective and > efficient way.
Date: 11 Feb 96 13:35 Read: Yes Replied: No Mark:
Excuse me for writing a very short answer to a long and well though out message. I have little time but would like to make some comments.
First the idea to start a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions file). We have done that in the past and it caused a drop in the message flow. Newbies will scan the FAQ, get the answers and we never see them again. In the present state they are forced to establish contact with other users. In my view this is the main reason for this mail area. Some other things to consider is the amount of time it takes to make a good FAQ and the fact that there are often many ways to solve a problem. you often see (in other areas) the FAQ being attacked as being to one sided, not correct or incomplete. I feel discussion about topics can be more helpful. Besides, the messages take only a fraction of the connect time and space on all systems. As an example, I get all new files automatically and this morning was online for 30 minutes. I got the new files for 1.5 day and the mail for the same period. The mail took only 2 minutes 12 seconds to receive; the rest was used by the files. And I know of several huge file hanging above the market at this moment. Big 20 megabytes suckers that can drop anytime :-).
About the Internet.
You have got a very good point there but the sysops inside the FsFan net have just completed a new round of discussion about it. Rest assured that we are moving towards the Internet but in a controlled and FsFan like fashion. The file collection will be available soon (being tested now), the airlines are using the Internet as a growth market and we soon see some action there. But there are many sysops that argue against the Internet with some convincing words. Just compared download rates from a BBS with a Internet connection and you will understand that using the Internet can be very expensive.
Rest assured, we are looking into it very hard and you can see the results very soon. Thanks for your long letter. I will make sure the other sysops see it as well.
On behalf of FsFan, Mathijs Kok
* Origin: FsFan will fly forever
Area: [FsFan] Main Message Area (INT) Msg#: 10509 Rec'd From: Rainer Labie To: Jos Grupping
Subj: BBS, E-mail, Internet and www
@MSGID: 81:300/100.28@FSFan c15e13ae -=> Quoting Jos Grupping to All:<=-
Many thanks for your comments about BBS's etc.! It's your great talent to be our observer and commentator, giving much input to the theoretical side of running our network.
In the first place I'd like to say, I agree with you in nearly all comments and ideas. Let me just go into a few of them:
JG> Like I said, I have been reading a lot of the e-mail and learned quite a
JG> lot from them, if only to know who are the real hot-shots. But after a
JG> while I became aware of some (repeating) patterns.
It's a very good idea to have e.g. IMPROVE.ZIP updated, as new events have being revealed. We then can say to newcomers, go and read the file. But I think, we all should still be so kind to answer those questions personally as well, because to rookies it could sound a little impolite, like going to an office board and the officer then just answers to your question: 'fill in the formulary' etc.
Nevertheless, FAQs are handled that way in many nets and it helps very often.
JG> It is a waste of time and mare often than not, the chance is
JG> that the information is only read by a few and then fades away in a
JG> matter of a week or so.
I agree. But on FSFan this doesn't happen very often. I realize this much more often in areas with American simmers. I'm always astonished how many still ask, how to start designing sceneries in FS 4. ..
Using an off-line reader makes sure, you don't miss any message, but it's a little hard, to look back to old message packages ('cause they are separate files) later. This is still the most advantage of being a point to me, to have it all right at hand, even a message of one year ago. It's like having a living book.
JG> Now for the future .
Yes. now comes the interesting part for me:-)
JG> And many of the internationally famous FS-simmers are moving to the WWW
JG> as well. Why?
That's very true. Our FSFan is a pretty little jewel, surrounded by an enormous community world wide, which doesn't even know anything about their jewel heart:-)
JG> That is because the Internet/WWW has some big advantages. The first is
JG> that it's completely graphical and much nicer to see (and aren't we all
JG> kids?) and easier to use. Y
Like in all parts of life nowadays. People like to SEE something instead of reading long explanations. And they like to TALK directly instead of writing mail (hut the latter step comes later in Internet, I think).
JG> The second
JG> is that it is easy to maintain and update information-files and make
JG> them readable and downloadable for everyone that has access to the
JG> Internet. And the WWW has one marvellous aspect: you can link it all
JG> together as one big picture-book. You don't have to copy it everywhere
JG> like we do now on the BBS's. Everyone can be responsible for a small
JG> part: the part that he is best in.
This is exactly, what I'm thinking. Internet will give us the possibility to set up a new kind of 'online-service', run by fellow simmers, not by money makers. If we make ends meet in this, the FsForum on CIS won't be the center of FS world anymore.
You may have heard that many of the most well-known fellows have left the fsforum after the kick-out of Mathijs and Simon Hradecky. There is much discussion at the moment behind the curtain and most of those famous guys exactly think in the same direction. There will be a FREE non-combat 'FS-online-service' on Internet and all those big names in our scene will play a big role in it.
JG> These advantages cant however also quickly become disadvantages. The
JG> ease of adding hyperlinks as easily may give total chaos and even more JG> waste than we had before if everybody does the same.
Setting up links on the Web is a problem I agree. But at the moment it's a matter of 'give and take', to be a part of the family. If you want to have a link on another page, you must link that site to yours. This is,
what I'm doing at the moment, running around the world on the Web and beating the drum for FSFan and TCA. Without offering a link to them, nobody has a minute for you. Because of this it was and is important to start the whole thing with setting up some FSFan pages on the Web first. Now we have them and we can ring the bell everywhere.
JG> But is has enormous potential and if we manage to organize right, the
JG> Internet and especially the WWW, can mean a vast improvement over the
JG> current situation of BBS's. But we should start by making a good plan
JG> how we should organize the whole and divide the workload in manageable
JG> portions. The whole thing can, because of the powerful hyperlink
JG> structure, also be a multinational or even worldwide approach,
As you may have heard, Mathijs has started on XS4ALL now and I think, he will be our coordinator and moderator and I'm quite sure, if Mathijs does the job, we won't run into chaos.
JG> We should add one or several (linked) and well organised file-transfer
JG> sites, that have enough capacity far everybody to download what he needs.
This step is already done now. The ftp.rat.de is OUR address now, although the server is not much faster than ftp.iup.edu.
Thanks to Eric! This was a huge step forward
If you have same time left for reading this long message, I tell you same facts about my/our work an the Web, speaking for our TradeWind airline.
First step was to see the light of day on WWW. So I put a simple homepage on the Web via CIS. Very soon -as always :-) - I reached the limits of that possibility. The homepage on CIS can't be very sophisticated. A very painful lack is that you can't set up files for download there.
But this lack was not bad for it in the end, 'cause it forced me to look for others to take a part. Now we will have links to others (like Karim Samir on AOL) , giving TCA a little ftp-corner on their accounts, so you don't even have to leave the TCA homepage while downloading from another address. Great, isn't it? Another friend (Peter de Lange) is working on a sub page for TCA with all aircraft and adventure related airline stuff. He is absolutely free in that job and the door to his room is opened, when you are on the main page. Of course you can come to him from the 'outside' as well.
I tell you these details to show to you that we on TCA are thinking exactly in your direction.
All we've done up to now and within the next weeks, compared to the set up of the whole FSFan net is just a little step,
JG> One thing that puzzles me however is e-mail. This is done as easy or
JG> even easier on the Internet as our current net- or echo-mail. But if
JG> you follow the mail on the Internet, you also see some signs of degeneration,
JG> So maybe we should keep our e-mail as it is, improving as I tried to
JG> explain above. But if we do things right, e-mail of a kind becomes not
JG> so necessary any more, giving more room to other purposes as chats in
JG> the Hurricane Bar or the handling of flight-reports. But the last could
JG> also be done and maybe easier by filling in forms on the WWW-pages. And
JG> a lot of the rest of the e-mail should become obsolete by assembling
JG> good lists of FAQ's (frequently asked questions), with good answers of course.
I agree again. We should keep our e-mail as it is now. Most of the
FS-related news and chat areas on Internet are very frustrating in many ways. FSFan has the best standard for this kind. But there should be an FSFan area on Internet, relayed to our Fido-based network. But just a simple point: think of all Windows users world wide, who never wrote a letter in DOS mode. There must be a way to 'write-and-click' on Internet to come into our rooms here.
And very important: that area must be moderated with friendly voice, not a messed up quarrel full of flames.
You mention the flight-reports. This is still in our mind. Mathijs will set up a possibility to write and send the reports directly on the homepage. Of course we will try to use this for FGA/TCA.
I read your comments about Matthew's new report program. It is too big at the moment, I agree. But it looks like it has to be in the future with pictures, a 'graphical interface' and an easy way for updates.
That's it for now. Keep up observing us, Jos! :-)
* Crigin: CARIBBEAN AIRWAYS (81:300/100.28)
Area: Netmail FsFan Msg#: 7508 Pvt Rec'd Sent K/Sent Date: 10 Feb 96 22:34 From: MIGUEL BLAUFUKS Read: Yes Replied: No
To: Jos Grupping Mark: Subj: BBS, E-mail, Internet and www
@INTL 81:100/656 81:300/1
@MSGID: 81:300/l.0 11d584aa
@REPLY: 81:100/656.0 311c2501
* Reply ta a message in FSFAN.FSF
Jos Grupping wrote in a message to All:
JG> Well, for those who have read this far: I should have stopped long
JG> before or have tried to say the same in much less words. I hope
JG> that I have made my point and I hope that this help to find the
JG> right direction for the new developments, that certainly lie ahead
JG> of us. Because that is what it is all about: get the most for as
JG> many people as possible out of the combined efforts of all
Jos, thank you for your comments. you have laid out the present situation quite precisely.
I personally think that any undertaking of putting some order in our virtual worlds lives only as long as it's creator works on it. Anything else deteriorates shortly after mainly due to the thousands of persons involved.
FsFan works quite well because Mathjis, Hans and many other hosts, sysops and myself have grown with the net, still love it and like what we are doing and mainly because we have become personal friends over the years.
Please don't forget one thing: the BBS world still lives strongly. I have over 100 users logging in daily and I am proud of it. I think any sysop is proud of his system as it is his/her hobby and would not give it up so soon, therefore the FsFan and other nets based on this BBS systems will still live on.
with internet getting stronger every day (more users, etc) the bbs world is certainly facing new competition but I have no doubts that it will still survive.
I luv the internet. ...don't get me wrong. i can hardly wait to have some minutes to spare daily to get on it. But when I need a file I must confess I mostly look for it in a well maintained bbs filelist locally. it's not that file is not available on the internet, it's just that it takes long to find it. ..and it takes ages to download it. (btw, for a better maintained file area take a peek at Cnet, they advertise on yahoo and mostly everywhere) .
As you say yourself the e-mail quality is better on fsfan. why is this ? I think that it is simply because it's much more controlled and controllable (without using censorship of course) .On usenet anyone in this vast world can write anything in an e-mail area. it could be off topic, obscene, racist, anything. ...the problem being that the person could repeat and repeat and never be stopped. Inside fsfan that is totally different (we had one case. ..) , we can trace the message back, get onto the sysop of the originating system and ban that user. If the sysop allows such a message to slip through again then we can even ban the entire system from fsfan (that never happened btw) .
But you see what I want to get at: quality exists only through control in our case.
Just a few thoughts, quite interesting.
Let's see what other people say to your message. Could be quite interesting
FsFan 81:300/1 FlyNet 196:8010/2 RC-Net 66:501/100 Fido 2:245/
@Via 81:81/2@fsfan @19960210.225554.3 McMail 1.0g5/SW SQOO0102 @Via Squish/386 1.112:280/503, Sun Feb 111996 at 09:26 UTC ~via 15:200/600 @19960211.073123 FrontDoor