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EFFector Online Volume 5 No. 11       6/25/1993       editors@eff.org
A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation   ISSN 1062-9424

                        In this issue:
             EFF Is Moving
             NREN Applications Bill Update
             Interval Research Conference on Online Communities

EFF Is Moving
EFF has outgrown our current office space.  On July 2, we will be taking
over an entire floor of an historic building in downtown Washington, DC. 

     Electronic Frontier Foundation
     1001 G Street, N.W.
     Suite 950 East
     Washington, DC  20001
     202/347-5400 voice
     202/393-5509 fax

Our e-mail address will remain the same, eff@eff.org.

NREN Applications Bill Update
by Andrew Blau

by Congressman Rick Boucher to stimulate Internet applications in health
care, education, libraries, and for access to government information.  On
June 17, the bill, H.R. 1757, was marked-up by the Science Subcommittee,
or subcommittee reviews a bill, adds amendments, and if passed, sends it on
to the next stage in the legislative process.)

The bill that emerged reflects a number of important changes to the
original H.R. 1757.  Some of these changes reflect the Clinton
Administration's input, others come from efforts to accomodate the
Republican members of the Subcommittee, while still others reflect concerns
of groups that would be affected by the legislation.

                 Major changes to HR 1757 as marked up

New name

The bill had originally been called the High Performance Computing and High
Speed Networking Applications Act of 1993.  Its new name is the National

Emphasis on accessibility

H.R. 1757 had originally specified that applications developed under this
version expands on that by specifying throughout the bill's many provisions
that applications must be accessible to people with disabilities; that
training programs must include training for people with disabilities; and
that public access points for networked information should include centers
for people with disabilities.

Connections program to support *services,* not facilities

The connections program originally called for the creation of local
networks connecting schools, libraries, and state and local governments. 
Now, the bill calls for the development of network services in local
communities.  The language clarifies that the money is to support the
also added to the list of local institutions under this program.  The
length of the Connections Program was cut from 5 years to 3 years (at which
time it is likely to be reviewed).


One of H.R. 1757's most controversial provisions had required that
could be "provided satisfactorily" by commercial networks 18 months after
the bill is enacted.  Educators, the research community, librarians and
others were concerned by the rigid timeline and feared that users would be
alternative, or at substantially higher costs.  The new provisions replace
the fixed timeline with guidelines for determining when the cutover may

be determined:  the determination "shall include consideration of
technical performance standards in providing services."  This responds to
the concern that there be well-known standards "available" that take into
consideration various conditions faced by users across the country.

commercial services are satisfactorily available, subject to the results of
the study.  The study is to be done by the Director of the Office of
Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in consultation with Federal agencies
and departments supporting test bed networks.  The study is due 6 months
after the date of enactment of the legislation.  This abandons the fixed,

OSTP report announces a date for the cutover, but "for technical reasons"
the cutover cannot be imposed on that date, the OSTP Director has the
option of going back to Congress with a new date.

As a related matter, the bill includes renewed emphasis on using
commercially available network services whenever possible, "to minimize
Federal investment in network hardware and software."

Scope of Education section expanded

H.R. 1757 originally specified primary, secondary, and higher education as
the beneficiaries of the education section.  That has been broadened to
nclude educational institutions at all levels, which adds pre-school or
early childhood education and vocational/technical schools.

The new provisions also specify the inclusion of the Department of
Education in the program.

Advisory Committee expanded; Public input process specified

The original H.R. 1757 modified the High Performance Computing Advisory
Committee created by the High Performance Act of 1991 to expand its
membership.  The new provisions take additional steps to expand the
committee to include library representatives, the computer hardware and
computer software industries, and the publishing industry.

The new provisions also require that the Advisory Committee meet at least
once a year to take oral and written testimony from the public on progress
n implementing the network and applications plan, summarize the public
nput, and report it to OSTP Director.

Lastly, the bill first specified that Advisory Committee members were to be
appointed by the President.  The new provisions specify that the OSTP
Director is to appoint them.

New attention to copyright issues

The bill as amended now includes greater attention to the copyright issues
that electronic networks create.  Specifically, the bill calls for general
nformation accessed via the Internet, and a means to identify
electronically copyrighted works and electronically indicating whether

Money:  less of it and none of it is "new"

Administration's budget request, and in light of the budget deficit and the
over five years to $1.005 billion over that period.

A large portion of that total comes from the removal of the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from the program. 
NTIA is not under the Science Subcommittee's jurisdiction, and will be
Commerce Committee, which is expected to authorize money for similar

The bill now also clarifies that all money authorized in it is from money
already authorized for each agency.  These provisions were added to clarify
that the bill was not seeking to add over a billion dollars to the federal
budget for these programs, but was authorizing agencies to spend the money
they have on these applications.


The bill as reported out of the Subcommittee also calls for:

  o  an emphasis on the development of "interconnected and interoperable
nformation systems" rather than proprietary or stand-alone systems;

  o  research into "the long-range social and ethical implications of
applications of high-speed networking and high-performance computing"; and

  o  new applications in clinical medicine, including drug development,
technologies to monitor, evaluate and treat patients in nonclinical

Finally, H.R. 1757 no longer includes the section that calls for a
coordinator for the networking and applications program nor a section

The bill is now scheduled to come before the full Science, Space and
Technology Committee on June 30 for a vote.  It is not expected that
additional major revisions will be made, but changes are always possible. 
Following the full Committee markup, the bill will be ready for
consideration by the full House of Representatives once the Committee
ssues its report.  No date for House consideration has been set.

The Interval Research Mini-Conference on Online Community
May 17-18, Palo Alto
attended and reported on by Cliff Figallo

This past Monday and Tuesday, I attended the "FIRST EVER INTERVAL GATHERING
ON ONLINE COMMUNITIES," hosted by Interval Research in Palo Alto.  It was
explore the nature and dynamics of on-line communities -- including
nformal presentations and panels, show and tell, rants and ravings, and
of Stanford's famous net.jams!"  The list of topics covered at the meeting

        o MUDs and MOOs
        o the world of online gaming
        o virtual identity and gender
        o "emergent" vs. "planned" communities
        o multimedia vs. text
        o online services
        o professional/work communities
        o political and social issues - the net of the future

The list of communities invited included:

America Online, CPSR, EFF, Electronic Cafe, Fidonet, Habitat, Kidsphere,
LambdaMOO, MediaMOO, Seniornet, Sierra Network, Smart Valley, and the WELL.

The purpose of the gathering, as expressed to me by Brenda Laurel and Lee
Felsenstein, the Interval employees who planned the mini-con, was to

John Coate, Marc Smith and I followed Lee Felsenstein's opening remarks on
the importance of networked communities as agents of social change.  John
Coate and I had worked together at the WELL and Marc Smith wrote his
master's dissertation, "The Logic of the Virtual Commons" about the WELL. 
WELL's online sense of community including, the policy of users being
managers, the connection with Whole Earth, the no-anonymity policy, the
nclusion of users in developing the system, the distribution of
that the population faced and overcame through the WELL's formative years. 
The concept of "common goods" was discussed as a centerpiece of community;
commonly perceived threat, as from government or corporations.  Most often,
though, it is the knowledge and personal resource of the group present
online, providing information and support at the convenience of the users.

Gaming populations are present on the Sierra Network where, rather than
through conferencing or messaging software, interactive games are the
meeting places, with e-mail filling the need for extended communication. 
Although little in the way of "serious" group discussion happens on Sierra,
a community of sorts does, in fact, exist.  Sierra Net has over 20,000
collaborate somehow.

Habitat is a semi-animated interactive system where each participant is
chosen from a gallery of heads, can be attached.  Dialog takes place
through cartoon-like "balloons" above the characters' heads.  Habitat is
Randy Farmer, are reviving Habitat in the U.S. (it formerly ran only on
Commodore 64 machines), while also developing a
funded by AutoDesk) and working on a conferencing interface for a
a "very large corporation" interested in funding their idea.

MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) and MOOs (MUD-Object-Oriented) are structured
and user-modifiable online environments that allow users to not only
nteract with each other, but to do role-playing, build and furnish living
areas and interaction areas, and extend and create the interactive "space"
and the rules for using that space.  Some MUDS and MOOs are being used to
teach children and, after giving the children the ability to create on
their own, to study how children work in an unencumbered environment.  Amy
Bruckman of MIT's Media Lab and Pavel Curtis of Xerox PARC described their

Some examples of specially-designed online communities were described by
Loyalties run strong online.  Seth Fiery described the Smart Valley project
for installing a broadband network throughout Silicon Valley as a prototype
for the NII.  Even on this local scale, there are more questions about
nteroperability than answers.  Fran Middleton talked about SeniorNet and
complaints about difficulty using the system and high expense.  Dave Hughes
     1) Rooted in real cultures
     2) Universal grassroots access
     3) Public technical standards
     4) Start farthest from centers of power (rural, remote, foreign)
     5) Always evolving (technically, connectively, individual/group/
        community skills) to higher orders
     6) End users do not just connect, they create
     7) Sysop's role is to enable and empower

corporate users to participate in networks using Lotus Notes.  She is

Tom Jennings, inventor of Fidonet, described the self-governing nature and
evolution of the Fidonet and how node sysops had developed sanctioning
norms and techniques.  Tom's original idea took off so fast that the
"newsletter" that reports on the operation of this anarchic networked
community of communities.  It is a poor (non-academic or corporate)
Systems, talked about the growth in public access to the Internet, the need
for better tools for access and data searching (which his company develops)
and the growing interconnectivity with foreign countries.  Pandora was
nstrumental in installing the first commercial Internet site in the former
Soviet Union.  Bob Carlitz is a physicist who has been involved in
networking children through the Internet via KidSphere.  He has seen how
children can form their own communities online and learn at the same time
on a global scale.  Kathy Ryan of America Online gave a description of the
their users on system design and features.  They are struggling with the
question of opening their system into the Internet beyond just having an
e-mail gateway.

Finally, Kit Galloway and Sherry Rabinowitz demonstrated some video clips
from their almost 20 years of involvement with the Electronic Cafe, which
uses low-cost to sophisticated video equipment to encourage creativity and
communication between different communities and cultures.  In some cases,
they have set up satellite video feeds between geographically-distant
culturally-disparate groups in different neighborhoods in the same town. 
No keyboarding necessary; anyone can hold the camera.

The purpose of the meeting was addressed mostly in discussion between and
following presentations as the differences and commonalities between many
concepts and models of community were explored.  It was evident that
freedom and openness and encouragement of creativity seemed to be the
critical keys to nurturing community.  Greater access will allow more
list of values.  Creating and enforcing community standards, even where a
minority may claim that free speech is being infringed upon, was also seen
as a contributor to community.  Where a group needs to feel secure in
of community.

Discussion of the privacy rights of children were examined in the case of
Amy Bruckman's desire to study and document children's behaviors online in
MOO environments without the children's knowledge.  Would parental

The presence of children online, in general, presents many difficult
ethical dilemmas which may have, at least, partial technical solutions.

The looming spectre of collusion between large cable companies and telcos,
leading to domination of electronic media by mostly one-way communications
and entertainment at the expense of the interactive and user-created
activities necessary to foster community, was recognized as a threat that
could best be countered by proactive development of more interactive
communities of all types in the near future.  I explained EFF's positions
on several issues of concern to the attendees.  EFF's existence as a
liberties was regarded as a comforting security umbrella and a real
necessity if the practice of online community is to expand and thrive.


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