The article below is from the Ubyssey’s “Flashback Friday” series, in which the UBC student newspaper takes a look at “interesting, thought-provoking or just plain weird articles” published since 1918. This piece, which refers to UBC Library, is one of the first articles that appeared in the paper about the Internet.

Student access to Internet around corner—November 24, 1992, the Ubyssey

By Graham Cook

UBC will soon be full of cyberpunks interfacing virtually, if the folks at the UBC library and UBC Computing and Communications have their way. AS of 1 December, all UBC students can hook themselves into the worldwide computer network known as the Internet, through a new program called Netinfo.

The Internet is a way for people to communicate back and forth almost instantaneously, through a computer equipped with a modem or an on-campus computer hooked up to UBC’s Internet hub.

One benefit of Internet access is an electronic mail (e-mail) address. You can send and receive typed messages from anyone else in the world hooked up to the net, for almost no cost.

Professor of Chemistry and the chair of the chemistry department’s computer facilities, Elliott Burnell said access to e-mail “has been very important because you can communicate almost instantly with your colleagues around the world. You can discuss papers and other matters very quickly.”

Another Internet convert is Bill Unruh, a professor Physics who specializes is cosmology. “E-mail is how I keep in touch with my colleagues around the world…There are repositories of [academic paper] pre-prints where people send them to and you can pick them up,” Unruh said.

E-mail has also opened up a new avenue for artists to share their work. Video images created through a process called “slowscan” are digitized and shared across continents. BC artists Hank Bull and Bill Bartlett are among the pioneers of this cyber-art.

For those interested in chatting to people who share their specialized interests, there is Inernet news. Once connected you can graze through “newsgroups”, back-and-forth comments and counter-comments on everything from Turkish culture to left-wing political activism to fans’ chatter about the musical grope They Might Be Giants. Newsgroups can also have a positive benefit for research, Burnell said. “For example in chemistry, if people are using a certain type of NMR spectrometer you can have a news group set up for questions and answers about it.”

The Internet has exploded in popularity over the last year and the number of people, primarily academics, using the network has increased exponentially.

But there are problems. One is the possibility of getting lost surfing through the seemingly endless Internet waves. “If you want to subscribe to and read [the newsgroups] then it has nothing to do with your job or the actives,” providing a great excuse to avoid work, Burnell said.

There is so much to see on the ‘net that some people can spend hours and hours at a time browsing through the different newsgroups-but not with the new Netinfo service.

The service will restrict students to 20 minutes of free computing time per day. Those who want more will have to sign up for a separate account through UBC Computing and Communications, for an initial cost of $20.

Susan Mair, who is coordinating the Netinfo project, expects up to 4000 students will register for the service.

“I expect eventually most students will want to use it,” Mair said.

Students can register for a Netinfo account after 1 December by hooking up to UBC network, either by phoning 822-4477 with a modem and your own personal computer, or by connecting through a linked-up computer on campus.

Netinfo will then provide you win an email address-and an excuse to hole up with your computer for (at least) 20 minutes a day.

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