If you have a networked computer in a university, you're probably already using email, perhaps ftp and telnet as well. Ask your computer people about setting up Gopher or Mosaic on your own computer. All the software you need is available free on the Internet. Alternatively, you might have an account on a mainframe computer where Gopher and Lynx are already available - try and see.
If you don't have AARNet access through your workplace, don't despair! There are commercial services such as Compuserve and Oz-E- mail that provide at least an email connection to the Internet (through which you can use Listservs). There's also a co-operative called APANA, whose members have set up their own services to provide Internet access at a reasonable price.
For more background information on the Internet, I'd suggest you have a browse in your local bookshop. A number of relevant books have been published in the last few months. (See, print technology is not outmoded!)
The current range of information facilities made available world-wide by the Coombs Computing Unit include:
As of March 1994, the following ASAP publications and information facilities were available through the Coombs Computing Unit:
Once you have the Coombsquest gopher running, you can find ASAP's area under 'Special Projects'. Moving around the menu items is easy. To view a text file just hit 'enter'. To get a copy of it you can either use 's' to save, or 'm' to mail it to yourself (that's on a mainframe - not sure about PC/Macs). Another handy command is '/[insert text string]', which will take you to the next incidence of that text string. Type '?' within gopher to see a full list of commands.
If you're running WWW software, you can access the ANU Social Sciences WWW Server at 'http://coombs.anu.edu.au/CoombesHome.html'. Once again, ASAP's material is found under 'Special Projects'. One day soon I hope that we will make available a hypertext edition of HASN that will include the pictures left out of the plain text version.
ASAP and the Coombs Computing Unit recently set up a history of Australian science and technology forum called Hist-Aust-Sci-Tech-L. This forum aims to encourage discussion and the sharing of information between all those with an interest in the field. It will act as an adjunct to HASN, allowing immediate communication, regular updates, and ongoing discussions.
To subscribe simply address an email to 'email@example.com'. Leave the 'Subject' line blank, and in the message area type the following:
subscribe Hist-Aust-Sci-Tech-LSo I would type:
subscribe Hist-Aust-Sci-Tech-L firstname.lastname@example.org.Just send it off and that's it! You should then receive a message welcoming you to the forum. Once you've subscribed, if you want to send a message to the group just email it to 'Hist-Aust-Sci-Tech- L@coombs.anu.edu.au', and it will be automatically distributed. The 'majordomo' address is for automated administrative tasks like 'subscribe' and 'unsubscribe' only.
To reach the UMKC Science Studies archive simply gopher to 'kasey.umkc.edu'. Just arrow-down to Science Studies, hit enter, and you're there.
I am very pleased to have been invited by Professor Rod Home to undertake the launch today of four guides completed recently by ASAP, the Australian Science Archives Project. I guess invitations such as this are issued based on one of two guiding principles: in general they are issued to people who are experts in the field, and here I certainly do not qualify. But sometimes there is a different objective, namely to involve people who don't yet know much about the subject matter, but would be well advised to find out about it. This is where I fit in. In particular I was pleased to recognise this guiding principle in ASAP's Strategic Plan, in Section 3.3.1. The relevant passage is: 'Small, but specific tasks might be allocated to members of the Council of Friends, in order to foster a sense of direct involvement with ASAP.' So I have started to inform myself a little about ASAP, and to become excited about it. From my position as an outsider, it appears that ASAP is about to become one of the significant institutions in the new Australian science and technology landscape.
As Australian scientists we have a rich heritage, but we have not yet started to acknowledge this heritage properly and to draw inspiration from it. There are probably many reasons for this, one of them being that working scientists are more concerned with the present than with the past. It is here that ASAP has stepped into the picture.
What ASAP is demonstrating, is that the techniques for dealing with the personal archives of Australian scientists of the past generation, are also relevant to the business of bringing order and understanding to the files of current Australian scientific projects and institutions, such as the CSIRO Plastic Banknote Project; the Bionic Ear project; the Anti-Cancer Council of Australia; the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute; the Melbourne Zoo; and so on. In order to deal with the challenges of managing the archives and files of such diverse projects and organisations, ASAP has had to develop new archival skills, namely the high-tech skills of data handling and on- line resources. Recently a series of workshops have been held on the topic of archives in the age of telecommunications.
It seems to me that in the structural changes undergone by ASAP in the last few years, we have a microcosm of what is happening in Australian science and technology generally. From a base of familiar jobs we are forced to look towards entrepreneurial activity, devising new projects with which to move into new niches, in particular to niches with new possibilities for funding. Once we promise to the funding agencies to move into such new niches, we then have to deliver, and quite often this requires us to design new and more efficient methodologies. With a bit of luck, these new methods are actually more advanced than parallel developments in other countries, making us an international resource for innovation.
I feel that this is what has happened to ASAP. In the search for new projects and new project funds, the science archivists at ASAP have developed methodologies which are more advanced and more high tech than the methods and tools used by their somewhat more old fashioned colleagues in Europe. I would be pleased to assist in figuring out with you ways, in which we might undertake joint projects with European science organisations, in order to bring ASAP some new European projects with new sources of funds attached.
But in being dazzled by the new exciting developments and opportunities, we must not forget the core business of ASAP, namely the extensive archival collections of selected Australian scientists. And today we can celebrate the completion of four guides to such collections.
The first is the guide to the Laurie Coombes (1899 - 1988) This is the second guide that we are launching today. The personal papers of Lloyd Rees (1916 - 1989) The first part of the collection was given to ASAP by Crosbie Morrison (1900 - 1958) When Senator Chris Schacht became Minister for Science, one of his first public statements was that we do not have sufficient high-class communicators on science in Australia. It would have been terrific if at that point we could have presented Conclusion To conclude I would like to come back to my earlier point that our Australian science and technology organisations are becoming more exciting, more innovative and more entrepreneurial. We all know that these changes have been imposed on us by the politics of Canberra. But what is also happening, is that the changes that are now occurring in our science and technology institutions are finally being applauded in Canberra.
Recently I have been involved in a Working Party of the Prime Minister's Science Council on the Future Directions of Australian Science and Technology. What we recognised is that a cultural change is occurring in Australia, which is beginning to view science and technology as crucial to our future in innovation and exporting, especially to Asia. We also recognised a new focus in Australian science and technology to deal with specific Australian problems and challenges. Unfortunately, what we did not bring into our consideration is that we do in fact have a rich heritage of Australian science and technology.
ASAP has taken on the task of being the custodian of this heritage, and the task of teaching others how to preserve it. Through its specially developed methodologies, ASAP is moving into centre stage for linking the past of Australian science to the future. We can all learn a lot from ASAP's achievements and initiatives in the last few years. And with this I would like to wish the organisation well in the future. Thanks.
Can you spot the potential Nobel Prize-winner? Answer: Burnet is second from the left in the back row. I.W. Wark is second from the left in the front row, and T.M. Cherry is the disembodied head in the bottom left-hand corner.