Gary Kline

Thoughts on the necessity for CommUNIXcations

Cell phones and corporations like Facebook and Twitter are not the only means of staying in touch with news events. In the early 1980's when I was finishing up my college degree as an engineer and computer scientist, UNIX users relied on the USENET to stay in touch. USENET was not necessary meant for instantaneous communication, but posts were continually being posted. Another way of saying this is that for the small- or geek-scale site, the Internet is not critical. Connection by old, 56kpbs telephone-line modem works just fine for the kinds of text files that USENET is.

Each of the smaller, home-run UNIX sites contacted other computers by standard telephone line, read in the individual newsgroups, and then automatically dialed neighboring computers that ran the USENET newsgroup software. The central computer sites were universities (or much later) large corporations. It worked.

In the mid-1980's when I began my Public Access site, every night my computer dialed a friend's computer which was sited more than 2,000 miles away. My friend has a direct line to the Internet and a full- or near-full USENET feed. The long-distance costs of transferring more than a small newsgroup feed would have been prohibitive so my selection was small. My site carried only a few of the ALT. and the COMP. groups. After I had them, I shared them with friends who also ran UNIX.

With the current disruptions of cell phone communication in much of Egypt, fellow computer wizards there who are running any flavor of open [free] operating system like Linux or the Berkeley software distributions [[ AKA, the *BSD's ]] could set up the same kind of "collect-and-forward" networks.

Because this type of communications would not be instantaneous, rash and nonsensical ravings could be kept to a minimum. What posts got thru on some alt.revolutionnews would be reasoned, rational. It would keep the population informed, albeit slightly more slowly.

A final thought is that, hopefully, Dr. El Baradei will bring his wisdom and experience to the fore and be among those who can lead the Egyptian people forward. But this ideal--of living in freedom and by broad, popular rule-- is just how I see things at a distance. ... .

The slogan of the 1960's: "Power to the People" is very close to the Greek "Demos Kratos".

Last update:
29 January, 2011

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