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Re: Activity on alt.theosophy

Jun 29, 1996 09:00 AM
by JRC

A bit of Usenet history for the general pleasure & edification those
having trouble w/ alt.theosophy ....

The whole thing actually started (as much of modern computing did) with a
bunch of students fooling around - `round the late 70's early 80's some
kids at Duke and U of N. Carolina built a system of Unix shell scripts to
transfer messages between their computers w/ UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy - a
protocol Unix machines use to transfer files automatically). At
programmed times, one computer called the other and automatically logged
into a special account that activated the file transfer. This ultimately
grew into the Usenet news system. At first it had no connections to the
Internet - was restricted just to the Unix people. But as the Internet
grew, more and more of the big Unix machines were also becoming Internet
hosts. in the mid eighties, NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocal) entered
the Internet world - a much better tool that allowed Net News to be
distributed widely and efficiently ... and it made it possible to get
news through client/server applications (so it became possible for people
to get news without a local copy of newsgroups). However, Usenet and the
Internet are still *not* the same thing - they are sort of like two big
interacting systems ... which is the cause (I `spect) of a lot of the
problems people are having.
	In general, three seperate things are necessary to get alt.theosophy:
everyone on theos-l has to be on a machine that is, or has access to an
Internet gateway (or has to log on to such a machine from a PC). This
machine has to have a news *feed* - that is, has to be fed Usenet news,
it has to have a *list* of those groups from which it accepts feeds, and
has to be running a *newsreader* .... that will display the messages. But
the process is not automatic ... i.e., there are continually new
newsgroups being formed, and dissolving, but when a new one is formed it
will not automatically be added to any particular feed, or to any
particular machine's list, and when one is dead, it doesn't automatically
dissappear (i.e., one may be able to subscribe on one's system, and it
appears on the list of those you've subscribed to, but nothing ever
appears on it). System operators are a harried bunch ... and most are
behind the curve. They will periodically add groups or take others off of
their lists, but this has to be done manually.
	Of course, one option for those without alt.theosophy running on
their gateway machine is to try to go from that machine to another
machine that *does* have access (and that way to use that somewhat
circuitious route has already been described), or try to vector into to
the thing from the Web ... but these are not very convenient means (and
in fact somewhat defeat the whole purpose of a Usenet group - its
supposed to be *easy*).
	So, (in the interest of dramatically increasing alt.theosophy's
membership) ... those still having trouble are probably just *waiting*
for alt.theosophy to appear on the list of groups they can subscribe to
- but it might be a *long wait*. However, many sysop's really do wish to
serve their clientele ... and will gladly add groups when there is a
direect request to do so. If you simply contact your system
administrator (and quite often an email message to "operator@domain"
will do it) and ask for alt.theosophy to be added, it may be done quite
quickly. Thing is, when this is done, it means that the list will begin
to appear to *everyone* on your machine that looks through the lists its
possible to subscribe to. So the process of getting access for yourself
is also the thing that can speed the growth of the list. (I, for
instance, periodically look through the long list of possible groups on
my mainframe ... just to see if anything strikes my fancy). So everyone
that gets the group added as something accessible on their machine also,
in essence, increases the chances of newcomers (both to the group and
theosophy in general) joining the list.
							Anyway, -JRC

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