I must confess that the exigency for this article was and is frustration, a frustration that I am sure many computers and composition researchers share. Quite simply, most English department colleagues do not understand us when we talk about the networked classroom. In some cases, people do not understand because, as Lisa Gerrard (1991) has pointed out, "many faculty in English departments view computer-assisted composition with indifference, disdain, or outright hostility" (p. 5); i.e., they do not want to understand. Yet those people did not provide the exigency that led to this piece. No single article will change them; only increasing isolation from distant colleagues and the empowering effects of electronic discourse communities will convince them to take an interest in computer-mediated communication (CMC).
Instead, my frustration is with those who are already interested in using the pedagogical power of CMC or who are already teaching in networked classrooms. I am concerned about these people because they often seem to overemphasize the value of LANS (local-area networking systems) and because they continue to suffer from the fear of technology alluded to above. I am worried by those instructors who, once they have learned how to use LANS in their classrooms, no longer feel the need to explore other areas of instructional computing technology, particularly WANS (wide-area networking systems). I am distressed by colleagues who tell me that they do enough with collaboration on our LANs (local-area network) and that the mainframes and WANS are too complicated to learn.
Of course, when I say that I am distressed by colleagues who only
use LANS in their classrooms, I certainly do not mean to suggest
that LANS are not valuable pedagogical tools. Obviously, they
may enable all sorts of collaborative activities, they may be
used to encourage students' recognition that knowledge claims
are socially constructed and negotiated, and they may assist in
the promotion of more "egalitarian" participation in
classroom discussions (see Eldred, 1991). Nevertheless, LANS certainly
have limitations and may not be the most productive means of achieving
some pedagogical goals. And when instructors refuse to even consider
using other available networking systems because they are "too
complicated," they become victims of a self-imposed "technological
illiteracy." Such instructors fail to see that they could,
through WANS, bring the whole world's public discourse into their
classrooms. In short then, I am frustrated because I see individual
instructors and even whole departments victimized by their reluctance
and failure to learn the language of networking technology. They
must have this language if they are both to understand how network
technologies can support or defeat our pedagogical goals and to
wrest computing resources away from economy-oriented university
Despite the English department's privileging of the printed medium over CMC, there is still explosive interest in CMC, particularly CMC on wide-area networking systems. Indeed, Stephen Hall reported in the Spring 1991 issue of Educom Review that the Internet alone is growing by an astounding 20% to 25% every single month (p. 19). Based on personal experience at the institution where I train faculty and graduate instructors to use the university's instructional computing facilities, some of this growth can be attributed to a turn away from computer classrooms using LANS to courses using WANS. At Purdue University, as soon will be the case at other institutions, the campus-wide demand for space in computer classrooms has exceeded available facilities. Even though our computing center has been constructing from three to five computer classrooms per year, we can neither provide sufficient hours for those students currently enrolled in courses using computer classrooms nor schedule courses for all the English department faculty who want to teach in them. Furthermore, with the current economic recession and subsequent cuts in the budgets of state-funded institutions around the country, this "happy" problem is only going to get worse for all of us. As a result, instructors in my department who, like James Kinneavy (1991), swear that they "won't teach again without computers" have turned to WANs environments in order to get their students on-line and communicating with each other. They have had to supplement their meetings in traditional classrooms with asynchronous, on-line class discussions carried out by students who log in to mainframe computer accounts that can be accessed via modems or various terminal sites scattered all over campus.
One positive result of this overcrowding is that, like many computers and composition researchers who began their careers by pursuing the effects of PC word processors on writing, instructors at Purdue are finally beginning to discover the advantages of WANS over LANS. They are discovering that an AppleShare network, for example, may be adequate for instructors who want to post an assignment for their students to read or who want to have groups of two or three students at a time editing the same document with an application like ASPECTS, but it is slow and cumbersome compared with the kinds of exchanges enabled by mainframe computing environments. They have come to the somewhat belated recognition that LANS simply cannot compete with the connectivity of WANS because students on WANs not only have 24-hour access to their classmates' texts, they have access to people, libraries, and databases around the world.
This kind of connectivity brings public discourse into the classroom
in ways never before possible. In one of my classes for example,
students read and discussed eyewitness reports of the SCUD missile
attacks on Israel on the very day the attacks occurred. They discussed
Supreme Court cases after having read the majority and dissenting
opinions of the Court, documents accessible to them only because
they were able to connect to the Cleveland FreeNet's Hermes project.
 The students learned to enter the public discourse about
war and our judicial system, not by reading some cold, academic
textbook about the subjects but by reading or, rather, communicating
with the people who were living the subjects, people who, as one
of my students put it, had their "finger[s] on the pulse
Our prodession is beginning to recognize that the kind of connectivity enabled by WANS is more than just a luxury (Eldred, 1991). Labs that are full of stand-alone personal computers and classrooms that depend solely on LANS for connectivity are rapidly disappearing. More frequently, faculty and program administrators are demanding that their LANs be ethernetted to their universities' mainframes and that their students be allowed access to WANS. Indeed, a whole new definition of what it means to be "computer literate" seems to be emerging in our field. It is no longer enough to know how to use a word processor or spreadsheet in order to earn the sobriquet computer literate.
As Richard Lanham (1990) has pointed out, "The most profound changes wrought by computers in the composition classroom are social, political, and pedagogical, not technological" (p. xiii). Thus, we need a whole new vocabulary for describing and teaching computer literacy because the rapid development of WAN technology and the social impact of wide-area networks like the NREN, CompuServ, Prodigy, MCI Mail, FreeNet, BITNET, and others means that tomorrow's computer literate must know how to enter and participate in the electronic communities found only on WANs. Computer literates will have to become experienced practitioners of "netiquette" in order to demonstrate their adherence to the values and epistemological stances of discourse communities found only in cyberspace. They will have to learn to research in paperless libraries and to use the information found there to solve industrial, economic, and political problems with collaborators whose faces they may never see.
However, we should not take Lanham's privileging of the social, political, and pedagogical effects of computing as a license to ignore the technological. Tomorrow's computer literates will live in a world where access to electronic information and knowledge is access to power, a world where the gap between the haves and have-nots is widened by the addition of "technological capital" to the "economic," "cultural," and "educational capital" Pierre Bourdieu lists in his book Distinction (1984, p. 11-13; see also Dertouzos, 1991). In fact, Congress is concerned that, as a nation, the United States will fail to obtain the technological capital necessary to compete in the global economy and, consequently, has recently authorized the expenditure of $1 billion over the next five years in order to develop the National Research and Education Network, or NREN, to replace the overburdened Internet (Jaschik, 1991; see also Gore, 1991).
If, as educators, one of our goals is to prepare students to become
functional members of a participatory democracy, citizens who
are able to get jobs, pay taxes, and make informed choices about
our government and social order, then surely we must give our
students the means of purchasing this kind of technological capital.
Unfortunately, we educators often lack this kind of capital ourselves.
Particularly in the English department, we allow ourselves to
be victimized by that "eleventh commandment" of the
Humanities: Thou shall not get technical. And by adhering to this
self-imposed gag order, as Billie Wahlstrom forcefully pointed
out at the 1991 Conference on College Compostion and Communications,
we allow the university computing center to decide what and how
we will teach in our classrooms. Our failure to learn the language
of WANS--a language that is both technical and exclusionary--means
that we give control of our classrooms to those "economic
and political forces that have 'chosen'' to design the technology
in this way and not some other and that are deploying it to enhance
the power and wealth of those already dominant in the culture"
(Kaplan, 1991 p.24). In other words, by remaining technologically
illiterate, we silence ourselves. Because we do not even know
what is technologically feasible, we allow the software developers
and system administrators to continue to develop and maintain
facilities accessible to an elite few. We should plead, suggest,
and demand that interfaces and support mechanisms be designed
that will allow the neophyte, the handicapped, or the disadvantaged
access to computing power.
Consider, for example, the following situation that I have repeatedly seen described on the networks and experienced at my own institutional site. A composition instructor, having heard and read about the kind of community that emerges in the computer classroom, decides that she would like to have her students using a network. She goes to the computing center at her university and asks for computer accounts for her students. Assuming that she can get her students computer accounts in the first place (many sites continue to deny undergraduates access to their mainframes), what kind of choices about the accounts can she make, and what will be the consequences of those decisions?
I suspect that in most cases the instructor will not have a choice, not for a lack of options--because a large number of universities have both BITNET and Internet connections,  --but rather for a lack of knowing how to ask about available options. Instead of choosing accounts on the basis of her pedagogical goals, a computing center technician will create accounts based on a desire to keep cost and resource consumption at a minimum. Often, this translates into computer accounts on an IBM mainframe connected to BITNET because the IBM is capable of supporting a large number of users and because the "store-and-forward" technology used on BITNET is relatively inexpensive, simple, and reasonably easy to maintain.
Now, I do not mean to suggest that BITNET is always a poor choice for a composition instructor; if an instructor simply wants students to exchange e-mail messages, the XEDIT editor used by most machines connected to BITNET may be more accessible to students than the editor used by the UNIX MAILX utility that one typically finds on the Internet. In fact, the type of machine and system configuration the instructor may find at a particular site can vary so much as to make it almost impossible to generalize about the type of mail utilities available to faculty and students. My point is that the choice should not be made by a technician on the basis of economic considerations. It should be made by someone who understands or at least knows enough to ask about the pedagogical ramifications of choosing BITNET's store-and-forward technology over Internet's packet-switching technology.
Generally speaking, a student with a BITNET account would not be able to access the Cleveland FreeNet and read Supreme Court briefs as I described earlier because a store-and-forward networking technology does not allow for "remote logins" or "anonymous ftp's" that require the synchronous technology found on packet-switching networks. Packet-switched networking systems like Internet allow for what seems like real-time interaction with remote computers because the technology is so efficient. In packet-switching networks, data from a user are broken into "parts," which are then stuffed into packets or "envelopes" that are then "stamped" with an address. The packets are then sent to the remote computer where they are unpacked, reassembled, and processed. Thus, when a user types a key on his keyboard, the network stuffs the data produced by the keystroke into packets and sends them off; yet, in the space between keystrokes, the network is able to ignore the user and is free to pay attention to the needs of other active users. In this way, packet-switching can support large numbers of users while it appears to each user that the communication with the remote computer is taking place in real time, except of course when the network becomes clogged with packets or when the packets have to travel extreme distances. 
By contrast, store-and-forward networking systems depend on a slow, simple technology that allows for files to be transferred from one computer to another. A file is sent to computer A, where it is stored until computer A becomes sufficiently inactive to forward the file to computer B, where it is once again stored until computer B can pass it to the next computer, and so on until the file finally reaches its destination.
Obviously, such a technology will not support real-time, synchronous communications; a user cannot sit at a keyboard and issue commands directly to a remote computer on the other side of the country and get quick responses to the commands.  Instead, the user must accomplish the following: 1) create a file containing the commands to be processed; 2) send that file through the storing and forwarding process to the remote computer where a program, such as LISTSERV or BITFTP, can interpret and execute them; and 3) wait, sometimes for several days, until the program's output is bounced back down the line to the user's host computer.
There are a number of drawbacks to this type of technology in the composition classroom. The first, of course, is its speed. As a general rule, students need their commands processed during a class period. They need to know, for example, whether or nottheir attempts to join a LISTSERV discussion group have been processed correctly, particularly if the discussion group is one that the instructor wants everybody in the class to be reading as part of a writing assignment. Few courses have syllabi that can allot an entire week out of the semester just for students to join a discussion group, and yet I have had students take that long because of misdirected files, mistyped commands, lazy list owners, and/or the slowness of the store-and-forward technology. Thus, such problems with speed are more than frustrating; they disrupt the very classroom communities we want to create by excluding certain students from the means of participation.
There are other drawbacks to the store-and-forward technology
in composition classrooms. As was mentioned earlier, students
writing research papers cannot log in to remote computers and
search their libraries and databases. Even if they can, for example,
find useful files stored on a LISTSERV file server or have them
transported from Internet via BITFTP, they are often unable to
have the files transferred to their accounts because of file size
restrictions. In other words, because BITNET's store-and-forward
technology requires that a file be stored on remote computers
and because such storage uses valuable resources, many sites impose
strict limits on the sizes of the files their computers will accept
and forward.  Consequently, students can neither send nor receive
long documents, and they are denied access to libraries and databases
on other networks.
All these problems with the use of a store-and-forward networking technology suggest that composition teachers must have an understanding of basic WAN technologies so they can begin to critique the pedagogical implication of those technologies. Too often, new teachers, enthusiastic about bringing the connectivity of WANS into their classrooms, end up rejecting computer-assisted composition altogether because they were stuck with computer accounts chosen for their economic rather than pedagogical soundness. Too often, administrators commit their limited resources and the future connectivity of their departments and universities to network technologies that are ill-suited or even hostile to pedagogical goals simply because a technology is cheaper or because they have heard that most universities are connected to BITNET.
We cannot afford to alienate these potential allies, particularly in departments that view our work with "indifference, disdain, or outright hostility" (Gerrard, 1991, p. 5). Those of us who advocate computer-assisted composition and CMC research in general must do a better job of educating those colleagues who have finally decided to thrust themselves and their students into the "network cloud" to prevent them from becoming disenchanted with CMC. We must, as Wahlstrom argues, cultivate people in the English department who can speak the technicians' WANS language, people who can keep them from denying us access to resources when they offer the "technologically impractical" pretense they so often use to keep their operating costs low. In sum, we need people who can convince the administration, the computing center, and the English department that our pedagogical needs merit WANS resource consumption.
Although it is only a beginning, I offer the following glossary
of basic but important terms that, I hope, will help us begin
to develop the language we need to speak and be heard by
computing center personnel. Obviously, however, defining a few
terms will not solve all the problems I have posed here. It may
help us begin to open tentative lines of communication between
ourselves and the computing center, but more work will be needed
before we can address the problem of computer literacy. For that,
we need to develop our own critical languages, frameworks
that will help us begin to formulate the issues and questions
that will drive our future research. We need evaluative vocabularies
that will help us identify contested sites in WANS pedagogy before
we can begin to understand how WANS may support or defeat our
pedagogical goals. Still, before this critical work may begin,
we must understand what is technologically possible, and, to the
degree that this glossary helps instructors locate options for
their courses, it is a first, tentative step toward those future
alias: An "alias,"
as the term suggests, is a word or set of characters that refers
to some preexisting UNIX command or an e-mail address. For example,
a user may wish to create a "mailing alias" for e-mail
addresses that are difficult to remember. Thus, rather than typing
an entire address like <firstname.lastname@example.org>,  a user
might create an alias <tharon>, allowing them to type fewer,
more memorable characters to accomplish the same task. A mailing
alias may also be created for entire lists of addresses. For example,
I often create an alias <class>, which allows me to send
an e-mail message to every student in my class simultaneously;
i.e., I need only type "mail class" to have my message
distributed to every individual student. It should be noted that
aliases are commonly used in the UNIX environment, and different
utilities often require that aliases be located in certain special
files. You will need to consult the computing center or the software
documentation for more information.
anonymous ftp: "Ftp"
stands for "file transfer protocol" (see "protocol"
below). Usually, ftps are only permissible if users are registered
at a site and have passwords allowing them to bypass the computer's
security system. However, anonymous ftps are a special type of
ftp that allow nonregistered users to access certain public files
and programs. Nonregistered users log in with the uid "anonymous"
(see "uid" below) and give their e-mail addresses as
passwords. Not all sites permit anonymous ftps; many limit the
hours when anonymous ftps can be performed, and the process requires
ARPANET: Advanced Research
Projects Agency Network, U.S. Deptartment. of Defense; ARPANET
was a forerunner of the current Internet.
article: USENET users
refer to messages or files that have been sent or "posted"
to discussion groups as "articles."
BITFTP@PUCC: This is an
ingenious program that allows BITNET users to execute anonymous
ftps despite the limitations of their store-and-forward technology.
As with LISTSERV software, users interact with BITFTP through
mail messages that contain executable commands. For more details
about these commands, send a mail message where the first line
of the file reads "HELP" to the BITFTP@PUCC address.
It's There" or "Because It's Time" Network; mainly
links university and college computers (see also CREN). Currently,
most mainframes on BITNET use the CMS/VM operating system, and
the network uses store-and-forward technology. Most BITNET addresses
have the letters VM in them because BITNET computers tend
to be IBM mainframes, and networkers conventionally use all uppercase
letters for BITNET addresses and lowercase letters for Internet.
bulletin board: This term
is often erroneously used by neophyte networkers to refer to a
LISTSERV list or USENET discussion group, the term actually refers
to small computers or PCs that can be accessed by modem. Public
domain software and document files are usually stored on bulletin
CAI: Computer-Aided Instruction
or Computer-Assisted Instruction.
CompuServe: A commercial
network on which CompuServe's users pay a fee and are able to
connect to the system via modem and to commercial carriers such
as Telenet. Unlike Prodigy, CompuServe users have access to some
Internet and USENET services.
computer classroom: Although
often confused with "computer lab," a computer classroom
is explicitly designed to allow for classroom activities. Rather
than focusing on individual workstations where students work independently
on different assignments from different classes as in a computer
lab, the computer classroom is designed to allow for group interaction
and communitarian activity. It also usually has screen-sharing
and/or projection facilities enabling instructor or student demonstrations.
computer lab: See "computer
classroom" above. Often a room full of stand-alone personal
computers, labs tend to be designed for individual, isolated activity.
conference: See "discussion
conferencing system: These
software packages allow a group to communicate via computer. Conferencing
systems can support real-time or "synchronous" communication
such as the "talk" or "chat" programs. Or
they can support "asynchronous" communication such as
the e-mail exchanges on LISTSERV lists.
CREN: Corporation for
Research and Education Networking; CSNET and BITNET merged to
become CREN; however, most users still refer to the network as
BITNET. CRENs charter limits network usage to research
and educational activity. Commercial uses of the network are prohibited.
discussion group: This
is a LISTSERV list (see "list"), USENET group, or other
collection of people communicating via computer. There appears
to be a convention emerging where discussion group refers
to asynchronous interactions and conference is used for
synchronous, but the terms are still used interchangeably by many
download: The act of transporting
a file from a remote computer to one's host computer. Downloads
can occur between mainframes or, through protocols like Kermit,
between mainframes and personal computers.
e-mail: This term refers
to electronic mail. Literally, an e-mail message is a file that
is copied from one user's account to another's, or, when users
are on the same machine, the file never actually moves but is
merely renamed and assigned a new owner.
e-mail address: This gives
the final destination for a mail file. Address syntax is in a
state of flux and is an extremely political issue among networkers,
but most addresses have three components: a uid, a node, and a
network. The typical syntax is <email@example.com>. Networkers
conventionally put BITNET addresses in uppercase, e.g., <XUCC@PURCCVM>,
and Internet addresses in lowercase, e.g., <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
e-text: This refers to
electronic text, and is often a generic term referring to any
file containing print characters rather than binary or machine
language files used in software. E-text may include e-mail messages;
however, it is usually reserved for books, articles, abstracts,
and other documents that have been stored in machine-readable
databases and archives.
ethernet: An early networking
system developed by Xerox in the 1970s that uses packet-switching.
Ethernets, because of the way they broadcast signals (Cerf, 1991),
are limited to distances of not more than one to two kilometers
and are thus restricted to LANS.
filelist: This is a file
indicating to LISTSERV software what documents or other files
are available from a list or discussion group. The filelist also
tells LISTSERV who can add files to the filelist and who can retrieve
FreeNet: FreeNet is a
collection of open-access computer systems that receive their
software from and are organized by the NPTN. Currently, there
are five FreeNet systems: Cleveland, Youngstown, TriState Online,
Heartland, and Medina. The first, largest, and most interesting
of these for composition teachers is the Cleveland FreeNet, which
came on line in July 1986. The Cleveland FreeNet offers 2.3 gigabytes
of hard-disk storage and, consequently, offers tremendous information
retrieval opportunities. Instructors interested in the system's
educational use should explore "The Schoolhouse (Academy
One)" bulletin boards. Researchers may wish to explore the
Society for Critical Exchange's "College of Electronic Theory."
Access to the Cleveland FreeNet is described in the "NPTN"
entry below. Please note: Although there is currently no usage
charge for the FreeNet, visitors may not post to the bulletin
boards or send e-mail; there is a $10 fee to become a registered
gateways: These are special
computers, also called routers, that serve as bridges between
different networks. Gateways are usually transparent to networkers
except when they go down because of mechanical failures or when
they reject files that are too large.
host: A single computer
in a network. Node is usually the preferred term; however,
when networkers wish to designate a site where a particular program
or user exists, they will often use the term host. For
example, PURCCVM is the "host computer" for the PURTOPOI
discussion group because it only exists on the PURCCVM machine.
internet: An internet
(with a lower case i) is a kind of "metanetwork"
or any network of smaller networks and should not be confused
with the Internet (with a capital I).
Internet: This replaced
the original ARPANET and will itself soon be replaced by the high-speed
NREN. Originally funded by the Deptartment of Defense, it also
receives funding from the NSF and other government agencies for
research and educational use (commercial projects are prohibited).
The Internet is a national internet or metanetwork of smaller,
usually regional networks. A large proportion of computers on
Internet use the UNIX operating system, and the network itself
employs packet-switched technology. Internet addresses usually
end in <.edu>, <.com>, or <.gov> and, by convention,
are all printed in lowercase.
LAN: Local-Area Network;
usually a collection of PCs connected together. LANs differ from
WANs in that LANs are typically limited to a single room, building,
or campus. However, LANs are often able to access WANs.
LANS: Local-Area Networking
System; refers to the technology rather than the networks or "LANs"
themselves. LANS typically use packet-switched technology.
list: Literally, this
is a file listing addresses and names of people or even other
lists. The list also contains directions telling the LISTSERV
software how to add new people to a list, how to manipulate messages
sent to the list, whether the list is open to the public or confidential,
listowner: Refers to the
person(s) responsible for maintaining a LISTSERV list; also called
a sysop or system operator. Listowners are often little
more than participants in open group discussions, though on some
lists they function as editors, deciding which messages will or
will not be posted to the list.
LISTSERV: A software package
written by Eric Thomas that enables large groups of individuals
to communicate efficiently. LISTSERV is capable of performing
a number of tasks, including serving as an e-text database or
archiver, but its basic function is to distribute e-mail or other
files to members of a list. In effect, it allows an individual
to send a message to one address and then have that message distributed
to every other individual on the list.
MILNET: Military Network;
links computers at various U.S. military installations around
the world. MILNET computers cannot legally store classified information
and are linked to Internet.
moderator: The USENET
equivalent of a listowner. Moderators can take an active role
in screening and editing articles posted to USENET groups; however,
they usually only step in when a discussion turns particularly
netiquette: Network Etiquette;
a highly political area of discussion, netiquette deals with appropriate
and inappropriate uses of networks and may vary radically from
network to network and even from discussion group to discussion
group. Potential netiquette issues can range from complex legal
and ethical questions to simple typographical conventions.
NETNEWS: A software package
developed at the University of Pennsylvania that allows BITNET
users access to USENET and other discussion groups.
network: A collection
of computers linked together by satellite, telephone line, radio
packet, fiber optics, copper wire, or some other means that are
able to exchange data because of some shared protocol such as
the TCP/IP or OSI. Networks tend to use either packet-switched
or store-and-forward technology.
network cloud: Networkers
often use a cloud metaphor to refer to the connections on networks
because of the complexity of routers, gateways, and other switching
systems in networks and because of the unfathomable number of
connections that exist. A message sent through a network is like
a plane flying through a cloud; it is visible only before and
after it passes through a cloud.
networkers: People who
use the networks.
nickname file: A nickname
file is basically the CMS/VM equivalent of an alias file in UNIX
(see ealier entry,"alias").
node: A single computer
in a network of computers; each node has its own name or network
address and can support a number of individual users simultaneously.
A node may be called a host in certain contexts (see "host"
NPTN: National Public
Telecomputing Network, the NPTN operates on the same principle
as National Public Radio, except that computers are used to provide
the public with information rather than radio stations. Originally
begun by Dr. Tom Grundner in 1984 at Case Western University,
the NPTN is now managed by a seven-member Board of Directors.
Currently, there are five "FreeNets" in the NPTN system
with several others under development (see "FreeNet"
above). To receive more information or to join the NPTN, connect
to the Cleveland FreeNet. For 300, 1200, or 2400 baud modem access,
dial (216) 368-3888. Internet access is available via <telnet
at freenet-in-a.cwru.edu> (18.104.22.168). Once connected, either
via modem or Telnet, log in as a visitor; type <go admin>,
and select the menu entries for NPTN.
NREN: National Research
and Education Network; a five-year, $1 billion project recently
authorized by Congress, the NREN will replace the overburdened
Internet around 1996 and, when completed, should enable users
to send 100,000 pages of text per second. The funding of the NREN
promises to open up a whole new era in WANS technology and accessibility.
NSFNET: National Science
Foundation Network; the NSF is one of the major funding organizations
for the current Internet, and, although transparent to most users,
the NSFNET serves as a major backbone for the Internet.
packet-switched: A type
of network technology that breaks data strings into short chunks
that are stuffed into "packets" or "envelopes."
Each packet or envelope is then stamped with an address and sent
to its destination where the envelopes are unpacked and reassembled
into data strings. This technology is very fast and allows for
a wide variety of interactive user services.
post: A message sent to
a discussion group is called a post, and the activity is
referred to as posting.
are one step above listowners in the LISTSERV hierarchy. They
are responsible for maintaining the LISTSERV software for their
particular sites, though they do not actually manage the lists
themselves. Typically, postmasters are also the system administrators
for their sites as well (see "sysop" and "superuser").
postnews: A common utility
that allows users to "post" or send a file to USENET
Prodigy: A commercial
network in which users pay a fee to connect to the system. Currently,
Prodigy is a closed network, and e-mail traffic between Prodigy
and Internet or BITNET is not possible.
protocol suite: A collection
of programs, called a "suite," that allows computers
to share data. Protocol suites are the common languages and standards
computers use to exchange data. In packet-switched networks for
example, protocols tell computers how to break data strings into
packets and how to reassemble packets into usable data strings.
Without protocols, networks could not exist.
remote login: As its name
implies, a remote login or "rlogin" allows users to
access files and execute programs on a remote computer without
having to leave the users' host computer or, more important, without
having to travel to the remote computer's physical site.
rn (or readnews): One
of the more common utilities used to read articles posted to USENET
store-and-forward: A type
of network technology where files are sent from one node in the
network to the next. Each node stores the file and then forwards
it to yet another node until the file reaches its final destination.
This technology is much slower than packet-switched and does not
support Telnet's remote logins, anonymous ftps, or other interactive
resource-sharing utilities. It is used by BITNET and USENET.
subscriber: A member of
a list, discussion group, or conference.
superuser: This usually
refers to the person or persons responsible for administration
and operations at a site. Superusers can create accounts, change
passwords, and read, delete, or alter any file on a system.
sysop: System Operator
or System Administrator; a confusing and often abused term, sysop
initially referred to a person who operated a system, though that
person may not have been the person responsible for the system's
administration. However, the term has been expanded through time
to include superusers and system administrators.
TCP/IP: Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol; protocol suite used by the Internet.
terminal emulator: This
is a software package used to make personal computers "think"
and behave like mainframe terminals. The most common and best
supported terminal emulation is the VT-100.
uid: Refers to user identification
on mainframe computers that are capable of supporting a number
of users simultaneously, individuals are allocated portions of
the computer's memory and other resources. Each allocation, account,
or space has a specific address known as the uid. The ownership
of files can be transferred from one uid space to another, and
that transfer is what enables e-mail exchanges.
UNIX: An operating system
developed by Bell Labs.
upload: The transporting
of a file from a host computer to a remote computer. Uploading
is the same process as downloading, only reversed (see "download").
USENET: User's Network;
a global volunteer network begun in 1979 using store-and-forward
technology. USENET does not support e-mail; instead, "articles"
are "posted" to discussion groups where they may be
read by anyone; personal messages are thus discouraged. However,
because USENET directors are elected and membership on the network
is voluntary, development and enforcement of network policies
UUCP: UNIX to UNIX Copy
Program; the UUCP network is one of the oldest networks and is
primarily populated by commercial companies. On UUCP, a host computer
dials the number of the remote computer, and a direct connection
is established for file transfers and remote logins; hence the
name UNIX to UNIX. As a general rule, academics will mainly
encounter UUCP addresses and networkers via USENET discussion
VM/CMS: Virtual Machine/Conversational
Monitor System; an operating system that is often used on IBM
WAN: Wide-Area Network;
WANs differ from LANs in that they cover large geographical areas
such as regions, countries, and continents. WANs may be connected
to LANs or other WANs, forming huge global internets. In many
cases, these interconnections or "gateways" are "transparent"
WANS: Wide-Area Networking
Systems; refers to the systems or technologies used by WANs rather
than the networks themselves. There are a number of different
WANS, but the two major types are "packet-switching"
My thanks to James Porter, Alan McKenzie, and Robert Child
for their extremely valuable comments and suggestions on drafts
of this paper. I am also indebted to the members of the <PURTOPOI@PURCCVM>
and <MBU-L@TTUVM1> discussion groups whose discussions provided
much of the background for this essay.
Tharon Howard teaches in the English Department,
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Although the exact number of university computers connected to BITNET and Internet is difficult to determine and, thus, does not appear to have been reported, a comparison of the BITNET and Internet host lists in Tracy LaQuey's User's Director of Computer Networks supports this claim (1990, cf. p. 34-147, 324-444).
For an interesting and accessible discussion of this technology, see The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll (1989). For a more informative and more technical introduction to networking technology, see Clifford Lynch's and Cecilia Preston's (1990) "Internet Access to Information Resources."
My comments pertain to store-and-forward technology in general and should not be taken to mean that BITNET does not support any synchronous communications. In fact, many BITNET users can use the command TALK to send a 160-character line from one site to another (Murray, 1985). However, BITNET does not support the kinds of remote logins and other time-sharing activities described here (Quarterman, 1990).
According to LaQuey (1990), the official BITNET limit on file size is supposed to be 300,000 bytes; however, files from 45,000 or more bytes may be rejected, particularly when one is trying to send a file from one network to another. I should also point out that the Internet currently suffers from this problem as well; however, once the NREN is completed, users will be able to send 100,000 pages of text per second across the network so that a "one-room schoolhouse in rural South Dakota could download sizeable chunks of the Library of Congress during lunch hour" (Rheingold, 1991, p. 38).
It is interesting to note that CMC is not only influencing
conventions for the use of upper and lower case; other grammatical
conventions are being changed also. For example, some readers
may have noticed the convention that says commas and other punctuation
markers should go inside quotation marks has been violated in
this glossary entry as well as the entries for "e-mail address"
and "Internet." Networkers often violate this print-based
grammatical rule when they are dealing with e-mail address syntax
or other forms of machine languages. Because many addresses and
computer commands use characters such as commas, periods, quotation
marks, and exclamation points in special ways, networkers may
place them outside the quotation marks in order to differentiate
between the differences in meanings.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. (R. Nice, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
Cerf, V. (1991, September). Networks. Scientific American, 72-81.
Dertouzos, M. (1991, September). Communications, computers and networks. Scientific American, 62-69.
Eldred, J. (1991). Pedagogy in the computer-networked classroom. Computers and Composition, 8(2), 47-61.
Gerrard, L. (1991). Computers and compositionists: A view from the floating bottom. Computers and Composition, 8(2), 5-15.
Gore, A. (1991, September). Infrastructure for the global village. Scientific American, 150-153.
Hall, S. (1991). The four stages of national research and education network growth. Educom Review, 26(1), 18-25.
Jaschik, S. (1991, September 19). Senate approves big computer link for colleges, labs. Chronicle of Higher Education, A37, A38.
Kaplan, N. (1991). Ideology, technology, and the future of writing instruction. In G. E. Hawisher & C. L. Selfe (Eds.), Evolving perspectives on computers and composition studies: Questions for the 1990s (p. 11-42). Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English.
Kinneavy, J. (1991, March). I won't teach again without computers. Paper presented at Conference on College Composition and Communication, Boston, MA.
Lanham, R. (1990). Foreword. In C. Handa (Ed.), Computers and community: Teaching composition in the twenty-first century (p. xvii-xxii). Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
LaQuey, T. (Ed.). (1990). The user's directory of computer networks. Bedford, MA: Digital Press.
Lynch, C., & Preston, C. (1990). Internet access to information resources. In M. Williams (Ed.), Annual review of information science and technology, 25, 263-312. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers (American Society for Information Science).
Murray, D. (1985). Conversation for action: The computer terminal as medium of communication. Unpublished doctorial dissertation. Stanford University, 1985.
Quarterman, J. (1990). The Matrix: Computer networks and conferencing systems worldwide. Bedford, MA: Digital Press.
Rheingold, H. (1991, April). Standing at the fork in the road. Publish, p. 37-38.
Stoll, C. (1989). The cuckoo's egg. New York: Doubleday.
Wahlstrom, B. (1991, March). Footing the bill for computer-supported
writing facilities: Redefining department commitments. Paper
presented at Conference on College Composition and Communication,