HUMAN-NETS Digest Monday, 1 Apr 1985 Volume 8 : Issue 12
Responses to Queries - Lap Computer Magazines &
Physical Programming Environs,
Computer Networks - Stargate and Common-Carriers &
A Daily Electronic Newspaper,
Computers and People - Questionnaire on Electronic Communication
Date: Thu 28 Mar 85 21:47:33-PST
From: Doug <Faunt%hplabs...@csnet-relay.arpa>
Subject: Lap Computer Magazines
TRULY PORTABLE: the lap computer newsletter covers the Radio Shack
Model 100 and the NEC PC-8201A and other portable computers. The
first issue includes a directory of software, hardware, and
accessories for portable computer owners, plus a program to count the
number of characters in a text file (a useful utility for a lap
portable owner), a revised version of the NEC character-defining
program plus the Russian alphabet, and other useful stuff.
The second issue contains book reviews, info on the new NEC
Starlet and the Tandy 200, programs to deal with mailing lists (print
envelopes, make address stickers, etc.), a discussion of punctuation
in BASIC, etc. Oh, the first issue has a program that turns the
number keys into "piano" keys -- fun stuff.
A subscription is $16 per year for 10 issues; a sample is
$2.50 by first class mail to TRULY PORTABLE, PO Box 2916, Oakland CA
94609. Coverage will expand during 1985 to include the Epson Geneva
(to be reviewed in issue #3) and the HP-110 and probably other
Date: 22 Mar 1985 12:51:37 GMT (Friday)
From: Jon McCombie <jmccombi@dca-eur>
Subject: physical programming environs
I have seen psychological studies that "prove" that programmers
are more productive and happier in all the different types of
environments: bull-pen, cubicles, semi-private offices, and
private offices. The studies were commissioned by the upper-level
managements of different software-producing companies, and
(not so surprisingly) "prove" that the environment in effect at
that company is the "best". In my experience, programmers
strongly prefer private offices.
I've worked in a number of different physical programming
environments: large terminal room, small terminal room,
semi-private office with a terminal shared with an office mate
and a terminal room as a backup, a private office with a private
terminal, and an environment with private terminals in "cubicles"
separated by partitions.
By far, the most pleasant and productive environment is the
private office with private terminal. This arrangement allows
social interaction when appropriate/desired: I have but to
wander down the hall and poke my head in my friend's doorway. If
I am concentrating and don't want to be disturbed, I close my
door. This arrangement allows me to ask questions of my
colleagues when needed (via e-mail or telephone or personal
visit), but encourages me to look things up myself before
asking/bothering someone else.
The argument most often made for more open office arrangements
("bull-pen" or cubicles) is that ideas are more readily shared.
This is true, but must be weighed against the sometimes
significant personal dissatisfaction felt by the people working
there. When I'm working, I really don't want to be disturbed by
people's questions, or a discussion of what people did last
Saturday night, or a discussion of software engineering (one of
my favorite subjects...). I want to work. When I sit in a
terminal room or in a cubicle, I invariably put on my WalkThing
with the volume high enough that I can't hear what's going on
around me. While this affords me some modicum of privacy, I
resent having to resort to escapism.
There are some who actually *prefer* to be in a bull-pen
environment, though in my experience they are a rather small
minority. I would be interested in hearing the reasons of
someone who so prefers.
Enough flamage. Further comments?
Date: Thu, 28-Mar-85 14:34:20 PST
From: vortex!lauren@rand-unix (Lauren Weinstein)
The analogy breaks down pretty quickly. First of all, we have the
fact that the courts might be completely unwilling to consider
something like Stargate to have true common carrier status (since its
very nature involves the broadcast of information to many parties).
If such a decision were made after someone had filed suit about some
message(s), the potential liability could be very high. You can't
just assume that all decisions would be favorable when you don't have
the financial resources to fight prolonged court battles--you have to
take some steps to protect yourself in advance, as do magazines,
newspapers, and the smarter BBS operators.
Once again, the BBS analogies seem closer to the mark--and even the
proposed California law that would give BBS's more freedom implicitly
assumes that you can identify each message sender so that they can
"take responsibility for their own messages." It appears that the
courts view differently the case of a carrier that has as its main
purpose the sending of a message from one party to another party, from
one that primarily sends from one party to many parties.
In the latter case, the courts seem to generally assume that
"reasonable care" is taken to avoid the sending of "illegal" or
"libelous" materials. In the case of no screening, if materials were
being broadcast by satellite to hundreds or thousands of points 24/hrs
day, the odds of a court ruling that reasonable care was not taken
would seem to be quite high.
Date: Sat 30 Mar 85 15:23:13-CST
From: Werner Uhrig <CMP.W...@UTEXAS-20.ARPA>
Subject: Ziff-Davis announces plans for daily electronic newspaper
[ from the Austin American Statesman - March 30, 1985 ]
Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. said Friday it will begin a daily newspaper
about the computer business that will be distributed electronically to
subscribers with personal computers. The COMPUTER INDUSTRY DAILY, to
appear each business day beginning this summer, will cost $1,500 a
year in the US. It will be distributed in Japen, Western Europe, Asia
and Latin America. Reports will be delivered electronically and in
hardcopy format by MCI Mail.
Date: 22 Mar 1985 16:19 EST (Fri)
From: Deborah Estrin <EST...@MIT-XX.ARPA>
Subject: online questionnaire
Online Questionnaire: Inter-Organization Networks
Computer-based communication and resource sharing ACROSS organization
boundaries are the focus of my doctoral research in the MIT Lab for
Computer Science. As a test case, I am studying the effects of
INTER-ORGANIZATION NETWORKS on communication among Research
Laboratories. I am seeking responses to the following questionnaire.
The 5 multiple-part questions are all short answer or multiple choice.
And as you will see, because I am primarily interested in detecting
patterns of change, the questions do NOT require ultra-detailed
answers. Please do take the few minutes to respond; it takes most
people between 5 and 15 minutes. All information will be treated
confidentially. You may respond online (to estrin@mit-xx) by inserting
your responses after each question or by numbering your responses. Or
respond on paper by printing the questions double spaced and writing
in or numbering your answers; send to Deborah Estrin, MIT, 545
Technology Sq, Cambridge MA, 02139. If you have responded to this
questionnaire already, thank you and please ignore this duplicate.
NOTE: I refer to electronic mail, file transfer, remote login,
database, and other computer-based communication mechanisms as
INTER-ORGANIZATION NETWORK (ION) FACILITIES. Telephone, face-to-face
meetings, and postal mail are referred to as TRADITIONAL MEDIA.
EXTERNAL ORGANIZATIONS are government, university, or industrial
laboratories outside of your company or university.
1) EXTERNAL INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SHARING:
a) During an average work week, with about HOW MANY EXTERNAL
ORGANIZATIONS do you exchange work-related information (e.g. research
ideas, tools and techniques) or resources (e.g. equipment, software,
data bases, computer services) VIA ION FACILITIES ? If the answer is
0, please skip to question 4.
b) About HOW LONG AGO did you first begin using ION facilities to
communicate with these and other external organizations? (number of
months or years)
c) Since you began using ION facilities, is the NUMBER OF
ORGANIZATIONS with which you share information or resources less, the
same, or greater than it was when you used only traditional media?
d) Since you began using ION facilities, is the NUMBER OF RESEARCH
PROJECTS that involve information or resource sharing with external
organizations smaller, the same, or larger than it was when you used
only traditional media?
e) To what extent do you attribute the changes indicated in (c) and
(d) to the use of ION facilities? (not at all, some, quite a bit, very
f) Identify the individual organizations with which you exchange work
related information or resources via ION facilities most intensively;
select no more than 3 or 4. Assign a code letter to each one (i.e.,
a,b,c) and indicate whether each is a university(u), government(g), or
industrial(i) lab. Bulletin boards and distribution lists do NOT
qualify as organizations per se; please do not include more than one
of these among the 3 or 4 organizations.
2) COMMUNICATION AND ACCESS PATTERNS:
Respond to the following questions by listing each organization's code
letter (assigned above) followed by the appropriate answer for that
a) Approximately HOW MANY people in EACH of these organization do you
communicate with via ION facilities during an average work week?
b) Since you began using ION facilities, is the NUMBER of people that
you communicate with per organization less, the same, or greater than
it was when you used only traditional media?
c) HOW OFTEN do you communicate with people or machines in EACH of
these organizations via ION facilities during an average work week (0
times, 1 time, 2-5 times, 6-10 times, more)?
d) Since you began using ION facilities, is the FREQUENCY of
communication with each of these organizations less, the same, or
greater than it was when you used only traditional media?
e) Since you began using ION facilities, do you communicate with each
of these organizations via TRADITIONAL media less,the same,or more
than you did when you used only traditional media?
f) For each of these organizations, which of the following
INFORMATION and RESOURCE TYPES do you exchange via ION facilities ?
INFORMATION: (1)research ideas (2)research results (3)joint authorship
comments (4)information for solving a particular problem
(5)information about tools and techniques (6)administrative scheduling
(7) Other, please specify.
RESOURCES: (8)software (9)computer resources (10)remote applications
(e.g.,Macsyma, VLSI tools) (11)database (12)Other, please specify.
(List each organization's code letter followed by the appropriate
g) For each of these organizations, indicate if the average amount of
EACH INFORMATION and RESOURCE TYPE exchanged per week is less, the
same, or greater than it was when you used only traditional media.
h) Since you began using ION facilities to communicate with these
outside organizations, has your communication with outside
organizations that are NOT accessible via ION facilities changed?
Indicate if the average amount of EACH INFORMATION and RESOURCE TYPE
exchanged with the non-ION organizations is less, the same, or
i) Which of the information and resource types do you exchange with
people INSIDE your organization via internal computer facilities ?
j) For each of the external organizations that you communicate with
via ION facilities (identified in 1f), which of the following CLASSES
of INFORMATION and RESOURCES do you exchange via ION facilities ?
INFORMATION: (1)publicly available (2)available in internal documents
only (3)related to unpublished research (4)related to unreleased
system or product (5)proprietary (6)Other, please specify.
RESOURCES: (7)widely available (8)limited (9)costly (10)critical for
internal operations (12)proprietary (11)Other, please specify.
k) For each of these organizations, indicate if the average amount of
EACH information and resource CLASS exchanged per week is less, the
same, or greater than it was when you used only traditional media.
l) To what extent do you attribute the changes indicated in
(b),(d),(e),(g), (h),(k) to the use of ION facilities? (not at
all,some,quite a bit,very much) If appropriate, provide a separate
response for each of the 6 questions (b,d, e,g,h,k).
3) CONTRACTS AND RESTRICTIONS
a) What kinds of AGREEMENTS exist between your organization and each
of the individuals or organizations that you communicate with via ION
facilities? (none,informal,consulting contract,joint development
b) Indicate if these agreements differ from the agreements governing
relationships that use only traditional media (no difference,more
explicit conditions,more protective,more exclusive to other
organizations,more open-ended or illdefined,other please specify) ?
c) Indicate if any of the following factors significantly INHIBIT
your using ION facilities more extensively (destinations
inaccessible,inconvenient, poor performance,confidentiality of
information,company policy,none, other please specify)
a) About HOW MANY RESEARCH PROJECTS are you working on currently that
involve regular contact with persons in organizations outside of your
own company/university ?
b) During an average work week, with about HOW MANY EXTERNAL
ORGANIZATIONS do you share work related information or resources (via
either traditional or ION facilities) ?
c) Which aspect(s) of research/development do you work in, primarily?
(software, hardware, theory, systems, applications, other please
d) Which job category do you belong to, primarily? (manager,faculty,
scientist, research staff, technical staff, other please specify)
e) How often do you use a computer of some kind in conjunction with
your work? (daily,several times a week,once a week, monthly, other,
f) What is the name of your organization? (university or company name
and department or laboratory name)
If you use ION facilities in interesting ways that the above
questions have not touched upon, please describe them here.
Thank you very much for your time!
End of HUMAN-NETS Digest