In the "Internet" special issue of Computers and Geosciences (Volume 21, Number 6) Dr. Graeme Bonham-Carter, Editor, noted that C&G¼s role was to disseminate ideas and information, rather than the results of research¾. I view this column as an extension of the objective of the Internet issue and welcome your comments, suggestions, and contributions.
Those of you who missed the last ANON column, and have access to WWW, are encouraged to take a look at ANON which is the evolving home page for this column. The home page will "stay up" for at least several months and longer if there proves to be a need.
Responses to the Internet Survey continue to trickle in. If you missed the first ANON column you can obtain a copy of the survey by sending me an e-mail or snail-mail request. Results of the survey will be published in a future column.
I continue to be amazed at the level of activity represented by the geoscience resources available via the Internet; especially considering that very few of the contributors "do this for a living'. I have asked two "Internet colleagues" to share their experiences and thoughts with you as the central topics for this months column. The first is by Eric Grunsky who maintains the IAMG ftp site and the second by Art Busbey who writes a geosciences MAC software column for "Geotimes".
During the 11 month period a total of 459 unique users accessed the site. Summary statistics of the average number of files accessed per user over the period May 1994 to April 1995 show that the average was 6.3 and the median was 2. The minimum number of files retrieved was one and the maximum number of files retrieved was 137.
The IAMG site has moved from strictly a FTP site to a World Wide Web site with a hypertext based home page interface. Future services to the site will include an index of papers for Computers & Geosciences that will be hypertext linked to existing files on the site for ftp transfer. The index will be a full citation of the contributions enabling users to see the title, authors and keywords of the C & G papers with available programs. Other plans for the site include a Newsgroup, and hypertext links to other organizations that are affiliated or share similar interests with the IAMG.
To date, the site has been considered a success as a means of providing program code that has been previously difficult to obtain. As well the site has established a place where information and ideas can be exchanged for the IAMG and interested parties.
Perhaps the biggest pain involved in writing about geological software is keeping up to date with the software resources themselves, and obtaining interesting data on which to test the mettle of the programs. To some extent this involves chasing down contacts via snail- mail and waiting forever for responses. During the time I wrote the Macolumn for the now defunct "Geobyte", keeping up with late breaking developments was slow at best. Within the last few years that I have been writing columns on Mac software for Geotimes, the acquisition of programs and data has been facilitated by the increased use of the Internet by commercial and academic sites.
Relatively recently it has become much easier to gather the resources necessary to keep up with developments in geological software and to obtain a wealth of data, thanks to the various Internet interfaces. The principal methods for finding and obtaining information about programs, programs themselves and data includes the venerable FTP, the speedy and toothy Gopher, and the extremely user friendly and resource efficient World Wide Web (WWW). Searching using Veronica is useful under Gopher but a good WWW search can find almost anything under the sun (no pun intended).
The WWW, in so far as I am concerned, has unlocked the key for routing out interesting software and data. Although few geological software firms have their own WWW pages (but look at the Rockware WWW). Their products have a great chance of being mentioned somewhere in some URL. And search engines on the WWW Web Crawler, are very efficient at routing them out. Below are some of the URLS that I know of and peak into every once in a while. Check any of them out and there are other links to many other geological WWW resources. Give 'em a try and enjoy.
The WWW is one of the most amazing resources available for geoscientists. If you haven't had a chance to cybersurf - DOŻIT!
Since January 27, 1997Return