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5 File: file ModifiedNow that the disclaimers are out of the manner, allow & # 8217 ; s acquire to it.^LTechnology Appraisal: The _Superguy_ ListserverBy Chris MeadowsMED 355: Cable Television and New TechnologyUW PICO ( thulium ) 2.5 File: file Modifiedothers. It has its jobs every bit good as its advantages, itsstrengths every bit good as its failings. The ways in which it usesengineering for composing and distribution for the most portioncontribute to its success, though the countries of storage andinformation have room for betterment. However, this bettermentmay non be executable.

It remains to be seen precisely how long_Superguy_ will go on to be, but chances would look to begood for _Superguy_ to go on for a long, long clip to come.Technology Appraisal: The _Superguy_ ListserverMED 355: Cable Television and New TechnologyNovember 7, 1994In 1969, when the Advanced Research Projects Agency ( ARPA )created the little computing machine web that would finally turninto the Internet, no 1 could hold guessed what it wouldbecome. From its low beginning as a bantam military researchweb known as ARPAnet, the Internet has increased in volumeexponentially and is now turning at an estimated rate of 15 %every month ( Engst & A ; Dickson, _Explorer Kit_ 23 ) .

Along with its size, the applications to which Internet lendsitself have besides grown. Once intended for sharing slightlylimited computing machine resources among research workers across the UnitedStates, the Internet is now a planetary communicating web thatsupports 1000s of Usenet treatment groups, Internet RelayChat talk service, informations retrieval systems such as World Wide Web ( WWW ) , Wide Area Information Search ( WAIS ) , and Gopher, FTP filetransportation protocol, Telnet remote entree to computing machines, electronicmail that can make 100s of 1000s of people, and manyother maps. Internet has grown from a little militaryweb into a much larger commercial 1.Many organisations and groups both big and little brandextended usage of the Internet and associated services, forcommunicating and other intents. One of these organisations,and the focal point of this engineering appraisal, is the _Superguy_Internet listserver.

_Superguy_ is a distribution web that was formed in 1987to direct out humourous collaborative superhero fiction toendorsers. A similar distribution system for humourousscience-fiction narratives ( known as SFStory ) already existed, andChris & # 8220 ; Creeper & # 8221 ; Wilcox felt it might be fun to make one basedon superheroes ( Burns, _Superguy FAQ_ ) .The construct behind collaborative fiction such as _Superguy_is that each author creates a set of characters and historiesthe escapades of those characters in a series of narratives. Thesenarratives are all set in the same universe, so that characters in anarrative being written by one writer may detect and respond to eventsthat another writer is depicting. Sometimes two or more writersmay work together on a narrative or on a series of narratives, in whatis termed a & # 8220 ; crossover. & # 8221 ;Shortly after its beginning, _Superguy_ began to pullwriters and readers.

With each new writer, the _Superguy_universe grew and expanded. Against all outlooks, the_Superguy_ listserv has lasted for over seven old ages and is stilltraveling strong. Says writer Bill Dickson, & # 8220 ; Sing the inflowof new authors & # 8211 ; we & # 8217 ; re acquiring a twosome every twelvemonth & # 8211 ; I would statethat it could likely maintain traveling for a good long clip, but Iwouldn & # 8217 ; t even guess a guess how long & # 8221 ; ( personal interview ) .As an organisation, _Superguy_ consists of twosubgroups & # 8211 ; writers and readers & # 8211 ; and a distribution web tobring the two together. The figure of writers on the list hasremained more or less stable over the last seven old ages.

Manywriters have come and gone, composing from one to several narrativeinstallments and so vanishing. However, a nucleus group ofabout a twelve writers is responsible for the bulk of theauthorship, and many of these have been with the list from itsorigin.There is really no distinguishable concatenation of bid among the_Superguy_ writers. None of the authors has any existent authorizationover any of the others, except where that author & # 8217 ; s ain charactersare concerned. However, there are two distinguishable subgroups ofwriters, categorized by senior status.

One subgroup, jestingly referred to as the & # 8220 ; Old Farts, & # 8221 ; ismade up of those authors who have been with the _Superguy_listserver for several old ages. Though they have no existent authorizationover the newer writers, the sentiments and advice of the Old Fartsare valued because of their acquaintance with _Superguy_ historyand traditions ( Burns, _Superguy FAQ_ ) . The other subgroup ismade up of the newer authors & # 8211 ; those who have started in the lasttwosome of old ages. It is unsure at what point a newer writerbecomes an Old Fart.

There are few makings necessary to go a _Superguy_writer. Anyone who wishes to may subject a narrative at any clip. Itis recommended, nevertheless, that manque writers read enough of the_Superguy_ archives to understand how best to compose in theputing before they begin ( Burns ) .The _Superguy_ listserver soon has over 120 subscribedreaders ( Olson, personal correspondence ) .

The list of referencesincludes persons from many states around the universe,including Australia, Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands,South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, there are anunknown figure of other readers worldwide who read _Superguy_ viaits Usenet reverberation, bit.listserv.superguy._Superguy_ & # 8217 ; s primary agencies of distribution is through itsInternet electronic mail listserver, whose reference issuperguy @ drycas. A listserver & # 8217 ; s map is todistribute electronic mail to all the references on its endorserlist. Therefore, when a author sends a narrative to the _Superguy_listserver, that narrative is so automatically sent to all thosereaders and other writers who are endorsers. Anyone who wishesto may subscribe to the _Superguy_ listserver.

The primary intent of the _Superguy_ organisation is todistribute narratives from the authors to the readers. This servesthe dual intent of supplying the authors with a ready audienceand supplying the readers with free, entertaining narratives.In theory, _Superguy_ is similar to printed media in some ofthese respects. Its episodic format lends itself particularly to acomparing to comic books. However, unlike most amusing books,_Superguy_ is a free publication.

Readers do non hold to pay tohave it ( except for their normal Internet service suppliers & # 8217 ;fees ) , nor are the authors paid for composing it. Furthermore, writers of printed media typically can non have the sort ofinstant reader response that is possible through the Internet.However, _Superguy_ does run under some restraints. Inorder to travel through the listserver, all _Superguy_ narratives mustbe in ASCII text format, which means they can non incorporate particulararranging characters ( such as underlining or italics ) orillustrations. In add-on, the narratives must be written and sentin episodic format, as complete narratives are far excessively big foremail distribution. This episodic format can take to confusionif a sufficient length of clip base on ballss between episodes.

In order to map, _Superguy_ requires three things.First, a method of distribution for its narratives. This demand isserved by the _Superguy_ Internet listserver, which is presentlyin its 3rd embodiment. Without a manner to acquire the narratives fromtheir writers to the readers, _Superguy_ would non be able tocarry through its intent.Second, _Superguy_ demands to keep the figure of readers ithas, while at the same clip go oning attract new 1s.Fortunately, it has had a instead successful path record in thiscountry, holding over 120 known endorsers.

If non for the readers,so _Superguy_ would hold no ground for bing.Third, _Superguy_ must hold some agencies of pulling in newauthors, every bit good as maintaining the 1s it has. Each new authorbrings a alone position to the _Superguy_ existence, andwithout adequate writers to compose the narratives, _Superguy_ couldstagnate and dice. While the readers are the 1s for whom thenarratives are written, it is the writers who keep _Superguy_ traveling.The _Superguy_ listserver is an branch of the Internet,and as such is a really technological entity. The usage of thisengineering begins with the originative procedure. Because the narrativeswill be distributed over a computing machine web, it is necessary tousage a computing machine to compose the narratives themselves. Typically,_Superguy_ narratives are composed on a personal computing machine ormainframe word processor and so uploaded to the Internet.

Computers are arguably the most efficient tool for authorship.Using a word processor allows an sum of flexibleness in redactingthat is far beyond the traditional pen and paper or typewritermethods of authorship, enabling correcting or changing what is beingwritten withfar less attempt than making the same for typed orwritten stuff. Using computing machines in this manner has typicallyworked rather good for _Superguy_ .

Equally shortly as the narrative installment has been written, the followingmeasure is to direct it to the readers on the list. This is done byutilizing electronic mail, or electronic mail, to direct it to the _Superguy_listserver. Through the listserver, the narrative is emailed toendorsers around the universe, geting in their electronicletter boxs normally within proceedingss.

Equally shortly as the mail has been received, endorsers will utilizetheir electronic mail plans to read the narrative. They so have theoption of utilizing electronic mail to answer to it, supplying thewriter with remarks and suggestions refering his narrative. Other than the chief _Superguy_ listserver, there are twoother, smaller electronic mail listservers, called _Superpen_ and_Superchat_ , that are used for communicating among the writers.This communicating typically includes the treatment of upcomingplot lines, plotting, proficient affairs, and other administrativeconcern holding to make with composing _Superguy_ narratives. Unlike_Superguy_ , which is a public listserver, _Superpen_ and_Superchat_ are private, limited to the writers merely ( though_Superchat_ will be opened to all readers who wish to subscribeevery bit shortly as its decision maker decides that it is ready ) .The electronic mail systems Superguy utilizations have therefore farworked rather good and expeditiously. Using electronic mail, it is possibleto direct a message quickly, efficaciously, to one individual or to manypeople, and be moderately certain that they will have it.

This fleet signifier of communicating allows for much greaterproductiveness, both in planning narratives and in directing them out.Printed media is agonizingly slow in comparing.Another agency of distribution for _Superguy_ , beyond thelistserv, is Netnews, besides known as Usenet News.

Netnews shopspoints on a distant site instead than in the user & # 8217 ; s ain directory,which allows the reader to take a expression at this stuff withouthazard of holding his electronic mail waiting line fill up with it.The _Superguy_ listserv is echoed to a Usenet newsgroup,bit.listserv.superguy. This means that all of the narratives whichare sent through _Superguy_ besides become available on thisnewsgroup. This increases the listserv & # 8217 ; s possible audience byleting people who can non or make non wish to subscribe to thelistserver to read _Superguy_ via netnews.

However, the newsgroup bit.listserv.superguy has a comparativelylittle circulation & # 8211 ; that is, it is non widely available.Therefore, in the hope of pulling more readers, selected_Superguy_ narratives are reposted to the newsgrouprec.arts.comics.creative. This newsgroup, like the _Superguy_listserv, exists for the intent of administering humoroussuperhero fiction.

Unlike _Superguy_ , nevertheless, it has no individualputing and no email opposite number. Because there are many morenon-_Superguy_ narratives posted here than _Superguy_ narratives, it isunsure how effectual this is for conveying in new readers.Over the last seven old ages of authorship, _Superguy_ has built upa immense history, inclusive of around 30 Ms & # 8217 ; worth ofnarratives. All this back-story can be rather confounding to newreaders. For this ground, _Superguy_ & # 8217 ; s complete archives havebeen made available for transportation through the informationretrieval protocols known as Gopher and FTP.Gopher, so called because it allows one to & # 8220 ; travel fer & # 8221 ; files, isa plan developed by the University of Minnesota to letseeking for and obtaining information through a system ofbill of fare. The information is downloaded to local memory anddisplayed on the user & # 8217 ; s screen.

Gopher features a huntprotocol known as Veronica.FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, is anothermethod of obtaining information. However, this information isdownloaded straight to the user & # 8217 ; s disc instead than beingdisplayed on the user & # 8217 ; s screen, and so can be examined subsequently.FTP & # 8217 ; s hunt protocol is called Archie and is non asuser-friendly as Veronica.

_Superguy_ & # 8217 ; s archives are stored at a site in Norway,addressed for Gopher entree, for FTP. The files are arranged in & # 8220 ; digest & # 8221 ;signifier, in chronologically-sorted groups of five to ten narrativeinstallments each, and index files are located in the samedirectory.

Besides in this directory is the _History of theSuperguy Altiverse_ , a synopsized version of Superguy & # 8217 ; s historyto day of the month, and a directory incorporating _Superguy_ & # 8220 ; TradeEther-Backs & # 8221 ; ( TEBs ) , aggregations of episodes that, together, doup an full narrative. These TEBs can be rather utile for readerswho wish to understand how _Superguy_ plants.Another _Superguy_ mention beginning is the _Superguy HomePage_ on the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is aninformation storage medium that allows the show, on somecomputing machines, of different founts of text and in writing images. Insome respects it is similar to Gopher, except that it is nonlimited to exposing bill of fares. Certain words in the papers arehighlighted, and choosing them with the pointer will take toother paperss.The _Superguy Home Page_ contains chiefly mentionstuff refering to narratives in the _Superguy_ existence.

Included are profiles of some of the major heroes and scoundrels,writers, and series, every bit good as the _Superguy Frequently-AskedQuestions List_ ( FAQ for short ) , which is intended to react toany inquiries new readers might hold about the _Superguy_listserv ; the _History of the Superguy Altiverse_ file ; and linksto the archives on Gopher and to the bit.listserv.superguynewsgroup. This stuff besides includes images ( which somecomputing machines are non capable of exposing ) . The _Home Page_ is agood technological invention for those people who are able tousage it, but the necessary tools to derive entree to the World WideWebs are non present on all sites, and some users do non even cognizewhat the World Wide Web is.The handiness of these archives and mention stuffsenables new readers to larn the history of _Superguy_ up to thepresent twenty-four hours, and acquire a feel for the scene and the characters.It is a valuable resource, except that the agencies in which thefiles are stored makes mentioning to them slightly hard.

Thefiles are non sorted except chronologically, intending that all thedifferent narratives are assorted in together, in the order in whichthey were sent out. Even with the indexing which is included onthe site, picking out single episodes can be time-consuming.Possible ways to repair this job might include change overingthe _Superguy_ archives to a format compatible with WWW, forinclusion on the _Superguy Home Page_ . However, this is reallyimpractical, for such transition requires a great trade of clip and attempt, and to change over 30 Ms of text files is anext-to-impossible undertaking. Even change overing a few plot lines wouldbe excessively great of a undertaking to be attempted lightly.

Another solution might be to roll up more plot lines intotrade ether-backs. TEBs contain complete narratives and extinguishmuch of the clip involved in seeking through the index files.By doing it easier for new readers to read these narratives, itbecomes more likely that those readers will be interested plentyto go regular _Superguy_ endorsers.

This seems like a moreexecutable thought, but whether it will really go on is unsure ;many of the writers do non look to hold the clip or dispositionto set trade ether-backs together.Another job with _Superguy_ is that the Frequently-AskedQuestions list is distributed merely twice per twelvemonth, and is nonpresently available from any beginning save the _Home Page_ . Thislimited handiness tends to get the better of the intent of aFrequently-Asked Questions list, which is to supply replies toquestions that often come up and therefore prevent thoseinquiries from being asked of people on the _Superguy_ list.These inquiries can barely be answered by an absent FAQ.

An obvious solution would be to post the FAQ lists more thantwice per twelvemonth. However, this is non really executable, due tothe size of the FAQs. Because of their comprehensive nature,they are instead big and unmanageable. To post them more frequentlywould be to set an unneeded strain on net resources.Another, better possibility would be to make a mini-FAQincorporating pertinent inside informations about _Superguy_ and information onwhere to happen the FAQ, and direct that out more often.

If theFAQ were made available via FTP or Gopher, this would besidesincrease the easiness with which people could obtain it. This wouldbe a slightly more practical solution to that job.A concluding Internet resource used by _Superguy_ writers isInternet Relay Chat ( IRC ) . Internet Relay Chat allows Internetusers to & # 8220 ; talk & # 8221 ; straight with other Internet users, one on one orin a treatment with 20 people or more, by typing bidsinto a keyboard.

The ability to pass on within seconds israther valuable for plotting and organizing plot lines in whichtwo or more writers collaborate. Its lone existent disadvantage isthat messages are sometimes prone to being delayed for severalproceedingss or cut off wholly. In add-on, there is no warrantthat any peculiar person will be on IRC at a given clip.Despite these defects, Internet Relay Chat worksextremely good for the intent to which _Superguy_ writers putit & # 8211 ; narrative plotting, treatment, or idle chatting among friends.IRC helps writers make more efficient usage of their clip.The _Superguy_ listserver is an organisation like manyothers. It has its jobs every bit good as its advantages, itsstrengths every bit good as its failings.

The ways in which it usesengineering for composing and distribution for the most portioncontribute to its success, though the countries of storage andinformation have room for betterment. However, this improvementmay non be executable. It remains to be seen precisely how long_Superguy_ will go on to be, but chances would look to begood for _Superguy_ to go on for a long, long clip to come.