Email list hosting service & mailing list manager

Usenet, Listserv, and E-Journals: Pt. 2 BMACLENN@UVMVM.BITNET 07 Dec 1991 20:42 UTC

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
From:         Stevan Harnad <harnad@PRINCETON.EDU>
Subject:      Re: Request for Subscribership Data on Bitnet Lists

Eric Thomas <ERIC@SEARN.BITNET> wrote about comparing Usenet
and Bitnet/Listserv subscribership/readership statistics:

> Sorry  if I  sound  rude, but  this  is a  stupid  comparison. It's  like
> comparing the amount of people (I  mean absolute numbers) who watch TV in
> the US and  in Iceland. Chances are that Iceland  will be totally dwarfed
> by the US, from which I guess one would happily conclude that the quality
> of TV programs is  much higher in the US. Let's face  it, the Internet is
> considerably larger  than BITNET, and the  Internet is but a  fraction of
> the usenet readership.  Any comparison on the absolute  number of readers
> is totally meaningless.

The comparison was of the advantages and disadvantages of the two modes
of distribution for future refereed scholarly electronic journals. It
is most definitely pertinent to take size and capacity into account (as
well as speed, cost, efficiency, etc.). Your car/train analogy (below)
is much better than your US/Iceland analogy, which is irrelevant,
especially since the respective numbers can easily be expressed as
proportions of the total Net size in both cases -- not to mention that
many Bitnet/Listserv subscriptions are from Internet users (as if the
US could watch Icelandic TV programs locally, and vice versa), and I'm
really only interested in comparing scholarly lists (as opposed to
erotic graphics) distributed the Listserv vs. the Usenet way.

> Anyway, this  information is available,  for lists driven by  release 1.7
> servers, from the  LISTS database (just run a search  to select the lists
> you want and do INDEX).

Thanks for this information. I will try to retrieve the listsize
information for all listserv lists and then I will post its

> Comparing  the distribution  mechanisms  is rather  pointless, since  the
> service they provide is different. It's like comparing trains and private
> cars. Depending on the number of passengers, the destination, the density
> of the roads/train tracks network and its saturation, either solution can
> be more effective than the other... [Usenet/train allegory followed...]

I liked your Usenet/train allegory, but the Listerv/Usenet comparison
is certainly not pointless. What is at issue is which form future
refereed electronic journals (and other rigorous forms of electronic
scholarly/scientific communication) should take, and although the
"private car" model, very much like private paper journal
subscriptions, has some attractive features, it is decidedly NOT a
foregone conclusion that it is superior to the train model for the
electronic journals of the future.

Stevan Harnad
Listserv: psyc@pucc
Usenet: sci.psychology.digest