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Electronic vs. Alternative Media for these Electronic Serials

Electronic lists and newsgroups make it possible for cyber-naut citizens from around the organization, country, or globe to join in discussions on a moment's notice. Every conversation mentioned in the preceding pages brought people from more than a thousand miles away together to share information and thought on an important topic. I believe the electronic arena is the ideal format for the important issues being raised on CWIS-L, PACS-L, and alt.culture.usenet.

How about a literature search?

A literature search can provide answers to simple RTFM questions or give someone good background information on an important issue. An electronic discussion of the same important issue may yield a full spectrum of opinions from working experts in the field, including the living authors of relevant literature. Many electronic messages are `signed' with a `signature' message that includes a phone number and invites further communication. With respect to the `Invisible College,' information in some fields is outdated before it ever meets the printed page, and electronic serials are an ideal means of distribution and keeping peripheral scholars `in-the-know.'

As a conference program?

Carefully prepared and moderated conference programs can (and do) take place on exactly the same topics I've selected for this report. In a formal conference, only `important' people are asked to give presentations and share their thoughts. In an electronic discussion group, a precocious ten-year-old can participate as equally as any esteemed professor. There is no direct expense to the user who participates in an electronic discussion, while the prohibitive user-cost of plane tickets and hotel accommodations makes the formal conference option a `disappearing' arena.

Informal conversation?

Great, especially in the case of the Usenet topic. BUT, where else can you hold an informal conversation in which you assemble 42 people representing unique viewpoints and levels of expertise from all over the world? How can the participants in an informal conversation have on hand and in mind in all of the inspiration and resource they can easily put into a composed electronic message that they produce at an ideal time and knowledge-state? How will the important suggestions of the shy or quiet be shared in an informal gathering?

By letter or mail?

Not likely. People are too lazy these days. With the effort required to compose, address, and post one letter by hand, A person could easily distribute the same message electronically and instantaneously to hundreds of readers around the world. For each electronic serial discussion evaluated in this assignment, the electronic media distinguished itself from all other communications arenas by its tendency to equalize participants, its ability to involve national and international participants on short notice, its absence of cost to the end users, and the speed with which it can bring information to people interested or involved with the automation of library processes. That's why I use it, every day!
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