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information into the Daily Bulletin
Friday, January 26, 1996
Report on computer newsgroups
A working group has released a draft report on "news
management" -- how UW deals with the torrent of information arriving
over computer networks on "Usenet" newsgroups. At the moment, the
report says, about 1,000 megabytes a day is arriving, making up
around 20 per cent of all the traffic over the wires into UW.
(The rest includes electronic mail, World Wide Web material
and so on.)
"Difficulties in coping with the steadily
increasing flow of news onto the campus prompted the University
Computing Committee to
strike a small working group to propose solutions," says
Richard Wells, associate dean (computing) in applied health
sciences, who chaired the working group. It also included one
faculty member, two students, a librarian and a senior staff member
from computing services.
"Network news contains much that is extremely useful to faculty, staff,
and students," the report says, citing examples that range from
uw.general (with local announcements) to technical groups (comp.unix.admin)
and talk newsgroups which "provide a forum for students, faculty,
and staff to debate important issues of the day with people around
However, the report says,
network news also contains much that is of little apparent
value. Newsgroups within a hierarchy may differ radically in content;
contrast, for example, "alt.comp.acad-freedom.talk" (relatively sober
forum for discussion of computers and academic freedom) and
"alt.devilbunnies" (apparently devoted to the discussion of satanic
rabbits). The content of a newsgroup often changes over time; what
appears to be of little use today may be useful tomorrow.
So what's to be done as the volume of news increases, and begins
to cost serious money? (The report estimates that Usenet news currently
costs UW $68,000 a year.)
The working group "tentatively"
recommends that UW "make newsgroup importation and expiration decisions
selectively by evaluating content. . . . One could begin by identifying
the top hierarchies and newsgroups in terms of volume, and then
evaluate their worth to the University community and readership
through a committee that would seek user comment."
Responses to the report are now welcome.
Wells says the working group will hold at
least one open public forum in February. "The group is especially
interested in how to judge
the value of a newsgroup to the University community."
Wells can be reached at wells@healthy.
The complete report can be found at
A look at Sled Zeppelin
Engineering students are ready to defend UW's title in the Great
Northern Concrete Toboggan Race to be held February 8-10 in Winnipeg.
Two UW teams will be competing in the international race, now in its
an opportunity for civil engineering students to showcase their
design and construction skills in an international
competition," says Pete Kyle, fourth-year civil engineering student
and a member of the team behind one of the Waterloo entries, Sled Zeppelin.
The other team is called Sharctic.
The Sled Zeppelin team will be showing off its toboggan at 12:30 today
in Engineering 3 room 2102.
And here's what's happening:
- Bill Dick, retired from UW's counselling services, speaks at
Conrad Grebel College (board room) at 12:30 p.m. His topic: "A
Psychologist's Experience and Therapeutic Approach to Dealing with
People Who Are Gay or Lesbian".
- Friends of Thea Hughes, who's retiring from the staff of the
chemical engineering department, will get together at 3:30 in Engineering
2 room 4403 to wish her well.
- A critique of television using the concepts of media literacy will
be the topic of a lecture tonight sponsored by the St. Jerome's Centre
for Catholic Experience. The expert is John Pungente, Jesuit priest and
Toronto-based media expert. He speaks at 7:30 in Siegfried Hall,
St. Jerome's College.
- Beverlie Robertson, whose day job is in UW's co-op department,
sings the blues with "Poor Charlie" tonight at the Graduate
House. Jack Cooper, singer and songwriter, will do a guest set. The
music starts at 9:00; there's no cover charge.
- The campus chapter of
for Humanity sponsors a benefit concert starting at 9 tonight at
the Volcano Club in downtown Kitchener. Organizers promise "a lot of
great bands" for the $5 cover charge.
Got the wrong department
Yesterday's department alleged that "Recruitment ads for faculty
positions in chemical engineering . . .
are already appearing in print this week." Wrong: chemical isn't
one of the hardest-hit departments under the early retirement
program, and I should have written "civil engineering".
That's about it. Enjoy the Super Bowl weekend.
and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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