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ON TECHNOLOGY

GUEST COLUMN

By Eugene Kim

For the average student at a nearby Ivy League university, the Internet isn't just a neat toy for the techno-elite. It's a way of life.

Dartmouth students have been spoiled with high speed Internet access before most Harvard students had heard the term "information superhighway."

Organizing study groups and basketball games are accomplished electronically.

Announcements and upcoming events are posted to the electronic bulletin board.

Dartmouth is proof that you don't need to be abnormally technologically-literate to take advantage of the Internet. Unfortunately, many Harvard students and administrators have balked at the idea of using the lnternet as a means of quickly and conveniently communicating and disseminating information.

It's the curse of the chicken and the egg. Although many now concede that e-mail is an effective means of communication, many still argue that not enough people at Harvard currently use the Internet for it to be an effective means of spreading information.

Experience proves otherwise. In order to persuade people to start using the many network resources, there needs to be someone providing worthwhile information. Those who have chosen to provide this information thus far have found it worthwhile.

The course catalog is available online, and the electronic version provides an easy method to rapidly search and browse through the courses of your choice. The online phone book is one of the most used resources on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences World Wide Web page.

Almost 60 courses use the newsgroups for announcements, discussion and homework assignments, and many will agree that these newsgroups have helped facilitate discussion and improve the overall course. One no longer needs to attend several courses during shopping period simply to obtain syllabi, since many of them are now available online.

One of the best examples of an organization successfully providing information electronically is the mens' swimming and diving team. The mens' swimming and diving team's web page averages almost 500 accesses a day from over 3,000 unique locations from over 30 different countries. Current team members, alumni, even swimming recruits use the site to get the latest results from swim meets as well as the latest news.

Rick Osterberg, who maintains the swim teams site, reportedly spends about an hour after each meet to update the information. His one hour of work per week reaches thousands of people all over the world almost instantaneously.

Most newsletters, announcements and other information are typed into a word processor these day Taking this information and making it publicly available is an almost trivial task, and it reaches more people in less time.

Additionally, the sooner people realize the vast amount of both general and Harvard-specific information available on the Internet, the sooner the network will begin to encompass everyone's lives here at Harvard.

Eugene E. Kim '96 is the former presidnt of the Harvard Computer Society.

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