Surfing the INTERNET: an Introduction Version 2.0.2
by Jean Armour Polly
Teachers exchange lesson plans and bibliographies in another group, and
schools participate in projects like the global market basket survey.
For this project, students researched what foods a typical family of four
would buy and prepare over one week's time. Their results were posted to
the global project area, where they could be compared with reports from kids
all over North and South America, India, Scandinavia, and Asia. It opened
up discussions of dietary laws, staple foods, and cultural differences.
Other lists explore the worlds of library administration, reference,
mystery readers, romance readers, bird-watcher hotlines, cat enthusiasts,
ex-Soviet Union watchers, packet radio techies, and thousands more.
There is even a list to announce the creation of new lists!
The Power of the Net
A net connection in a school is like having multiple foreign
exchange students in the classroom all the time. It promotes
active, participatory learning. Participating in a discussion
group is like being at an ongoing library conference. All the
experts are Out There, waiting to be asked.
Want to buy a CDROM drive? Send one query and "ask" the 3,000 folks
on PACS-L (Public Access Computer Systems list) for advice. In a few
hours you'll have personal testimonies on the pros and cons of various
Want to see if any libraries are doing anything with Total Quality Management?
Ask the members of LIBADMIN and you'll have offers of reports, studies,
personal experiences and more. How do you cope with budget cuts: personnel
layoffs or materials? Again, LIBADMIN use allows shared advice.
Here is one story about the power of the net. At Christmas, an electronic
plea came from Ireland. "My daughter believes in Santa Claus," it began.
"And although the `My Little Pony Megan & Sundance' set has not been
made in three years, she believes Santa will prevail and she will find one
under her tree." Mom, a university professor, had called the manufacturer
in the US, but none were available. "Check around," they said, "maybe
some yet stand on store shelves." So Mom sent the call out to the net.
Many readers began a global search for the wily Pony as part of their own
holiday shopping forays.
Soon, another message came from Dublin. It seemed that a reader of the
original message had a father who was a high-ranking executive in the toy
company, and he had managed to acquire said pony where others had failed!
It was duly shipped in time to save Santa's reputation.
Part of the library's mission is to help remove barriers to accessing
information, and part of this is removing barriers between people.
One of the most interesting things about telecommunications is that
it is the Great Equalizer. It lets all kinds of computers and humans
talk to each other. The old barriers of sexism, ageism, and racism
are not present, since you can't see the person to whom you're "speaking".
You get to know the person without preconceived notions about what you
THINK he is going to say, based on visual prejudices you may have,
no matter how innocent.
Well, almost without visual prejudice. Electronic mail is not always an
harmonic convergence of like souls adrift in the cyberspace cosmos: there
are arguments and tirades (called "flames"). Sometimes you get so used to
seeing a frequent poster's electronic signature that you know what he's
going to say before he says it!
One problem with written communication is that remarks meant to be humorous
are often lost. Without the visual body-language clues, some messages may
be misinterpreted. So a visual shorthand known as "smileys" has been
developed. There are a hundred or more variations on this theme-
That's a little smiley face. Look at it sideways. More Smiley info may
be found via anonymous ftp at many places, including the following:
FTP is introduced later in the text.