Sometimes I feel like the Bill Murray character on Saturday Night Live who was the host of a call in talk show. As the night wore on the suggested topics became wilder and stranger as the host attempted to learn if anyone was out there. There are two issues that I want to raise in this months ANON column. First, there is the question of feedback from the readers to the editors. Second, there is a relatively new book on the Internet with an emphasis on the geosciences that I want to call to your attention.
Two years ago I agreed to produce this column in an attempt to try and assess the extent to which the readers were interested in the Internet. I doubt that a lack of response means that everyone is pleased with everything.
For example, the editor and I are curious as to your thoughts on how Computers&Geosciences should evolve during the next few years. The so-called new technologies are appearing and evolving at a rapid rate. Who, in 1992 would have anticipated the extent to which the Internet, applets, forms, among others, would be available for routine use and the extent to which they would be suitable for a scientific journal?
Several special issues have appeared recently and several more are scheduled. Are you in favor of special issues? What areas should be covered? Are you interested in being an associate editor for a special issue? Would you like to see more (or fewer) articles? Please take a few minutes to respond to C&G Survey #1. Results will be shared with the readers in a few months.
Life On Internet - Geosciences - A Student's Guide by Andrew T. Stull and Duane Griffin (Prentice Hall, 1996, $7.95) is an easy to read and practical information-rich introduction to the Internet in general and geoscience resources in particular. This short book (50 pages) is divided into two chapters and five appendices. Chapter 1 provides a Brief Internet History and two Internet-based activities to get you started. Although the authors use a Netscape browser, this should not pose any difficulty for those who use Explorer or Mosaic or other relatively recent browsers. Chapter 2 focuses on Advanced Techniques. Much of this chapter covers the various options available for Netscape browsers although other applications have most of the same features. Features such as e-mail and newsgroups are described and an introduction to the preparation of your own home page appears. The book concludes with five appendices covering minimal computer requirements, Internet resources, a list of Internet providers, a list of earth science newsgroups and web sites, a student homepage template. A brief glossary and some suggested readings conclude the text.
All in all this is a well done contribution. The only way it could be improved would be to "mount it on a server". I have given copies to several students and faculty colleagues, all of whom professed to be novices. All found some utility but most noted that this is a resource you do not want to read cover to cover. Not that it would take all that long to do so, but the best way to get started is to get started. Use the book to answer questions as you go along.
I will close this month's column with a reminder that you should check out the ANON home page. The Virtual Geosciences Professor resources are checked and updated at least once a month. There are two sets of "bookmarks" for the special issues on Geophysics and Neural Networks and a new set will be added for each special issue. The Virtual Locator provides links to people, software, data and Internet resources. There are two Virtual Poster Sessions and more are requested! For the past two years I have attended a pre-AGU workshop on Macintosh Computer Applications in Undergraduate Geoscience Courses at San Francisco State University (first as a participant and second as a presenter. This page provides links to the presenters and their content area as well as a short list of software sources.
Since April 15, 1997
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