Internet 201

Tracking the Future of Computing

One of the more interesting activities on the Internet is intelligently monitoring trends, regardless of the field. Of course, the size and shape of future directions do not come full-blown from the head of Zeus. To filter the noise from the signal -- to evaluate comments for what they are and to combine them with other observations -- takes a trained eye and a professional background.

Given those conditions, users of the Internet can explore the myriad conversations taking place on discussion groups as well as the thousands of messages posted to news groups. Currently, there are more than 7,000 public discussion groups and more than 14,120 news groups (using the news server on -- something for nearly everyone, by any measure.

Sticking with the topic of computers and networks, one can identify more than 225 discussion groups with the character string "comput" in their title or description. Using the character string "network" disclosed 293. If you wish to subscribe to a given list cited below, you need to send E-mail to the listserv address. This address is the so-called list manager, a computer program that handles all administrative work for the discussion group. To send a message to the entire group of subscribers, for example, to seek collaboration on a project, transmit E-mail to the group address that follows the listserv address.

Among the more popular in the "comput" category, that is, those with the largest number of subscribers, were The Health Effects of Computer Use (; c??, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (;, Interpersonal Computing and Technology Ejournal (listserv@-guvm.ccf.georgetown.-edu; ipct-j@guvm.ccf.georgetown.-edu), Public-Access Computer Systems Forum (; and UCS MONITOR - Computing News From Indiana University (;

A search using the character strings "comput and network" revealed 13 groups. The more popular included Business Ethics Computer Network (;, Chinese Computing Network (; and Computer Networking Education Discussion List (;

Jumping now to news groups, which amount to virtual cork boards, we find nearly 700 under the "hierarchy," comp.* for computers (other "hierarchies," or general categories, include alt.*, bit.*, misc.*, rec.* and soc.*). Searching on news groups with the character string, "network," yielded 61 hits. We find among the more popular, that is those with the larger number of messages, these news groups: vmsnet.networks.desktop.pathworks;; comp.os.os2.networking.tcp-ip; comp.os.linux.networking; and

The most popular, comp.os.os2.networking.tcp-ip, carried 870 messages on 430 topics or threads. The subjects cover the gamut from tips on using E-mail programs through problems with particular clients to discussions about the SATAN program.

Depending on your news reader -- I use tin 1.2 PL2 [UNIX] Copyright 1991-93 Iain Lea -- you can search text for character strings such as trend to locate specific messages. If you use nn, you should also try nngrab.

John S. Makulowich writes, talks and trains on the Internet. You can reach him at makulow@clark.

net or His home page is

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