In PARTs 1 & 2 of this series of messages we discussed the problems
facing the network due to rapid growth and mentioned technical options
to resolve them. In this message we discuss the other side of the
issues, ongoing financial support of the newsgroups.
Having been a fan of, and contributor to, two public television
stations in the San Francisco area over the years, the current attack
on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the U.S. saddens me but
gives added urgency to this message.
It is our intention to follow the PBS model. We have the approval of
our NSF/DOE/NIH project officers to continue to run BIOSCI as a
non-profit operation with funding derived from other sources. To
continue operation after government funding ceases, we need both money
to support staff, hardware maintenance fees, and network access costs
*and* hardware compatible with our software to replace our current
ageing, but still powerful, Solbourne system. A significant part of
the current grant has also supported educational work about BIOSCI,
the Internet, and Internet tools at professional society meetings and
at user sites. This kind of activity will not be supported by our new
fundraising efforts and will only occur in the future if the parties
requesting seminars cover the full costs.
We are offering sponsors space on our WWW home page and links to their
material, space for their literature in our gopher server, and
acknowledgement of their sponsorship in our instructional literature.
However, we want to avoid both broadcast advertising and "pledge
breaks" which I am sure annoy PBS viewers in the U.S. While we may
continue to make sporadic postings about the program, our intention is
to do our fundraising offline to the maximum extent possible by making
our contacts via private e-mail and telephone. I have already made
some initial contacts in this regards.
We want to make it clear that end users will see no change in their
access to the service. The service will remain free to our users.
The content of the service will change hopefully for the better if we
implement the improvements that we have described in the earlier
messages. Users will notice sponsorship acknowledgements in our
literature, on our WWW home pages with hypertext links to sponsor
information, and on our gopher servers, and it would obviously be our
hope that they patronize BIOSCI sponsors. This plan will be phased in
as our current government funding expires.
We will *not* be opening the system up to broadcast commercials as we
believe that this is the quickest way to disgust scientists and stop
them from participating in the newsgroups.
I do request that readers, who are aware of any organizations that
might be interested in sponsoring BIOSCI, please refer them to our
address, biosci-help at net.bio.net.
Given the large number of unsolicited testimonials that have been sent
in to me since 1986 about the utility of the newsgroups, my hope is
that we will need no further solicitations on the network. I hope to
be able to line up sponsors quickly and get back to work on improving
the service as soon as possible. The need to raise funds delays
actions on other projects, but we obviously need to resolve this issue
We appreciate your help and your support now and for all of the years
that we have been together on the net. Thanks in advance.
biosci-help at net.bio.net