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RE: INTERNET: Mailing Lists

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dennis S. Wish PE [mailto:wish(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 1998 10:24 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: RE: INTERNET: Mailing Lists
> Polhemus missed this in all of his posts. SEAint IS an information
> collecting services. Threads related to structural topics are
> archived for
> retrieval by those who may need the information when faced
> with a similar
> problem.

Well, that's fine, if you feel you need that.  I suspect the majority don't
feel that need--I don't.  And the SEAOC database continues to be available
to all until such time as they choose to begin a members-only policy.

In the meantime, such a database becomes muddled and bogged-down if
off-topic threads are allowed to proliferate--something we've dealt with
before in this forum.

I want a place where I can talk shop, and also get to know the folks that
share my profession as people, as well as engineers.

I don't think that SEAint's list is the place for that, nor should it be.

Also, as many have expressed to me privately through email, many of us are
less interested in the proliferation of California-oriented material.  Don't
get me wrong; from a purely academic standpoint, it's fascinating, I'm sure.

But I have no idea what a Pushover Analysis is, or what it's used for.  Like
as not, I never will have the occasion to need to know.  If I ever do, I'll
hire someone who does know.  The point there again is that the "vast
database" of knowledge is, for some of us viz. Texas-based engineers (and
there are a lot of us), crammed full of stuff we NEVER use.

I worked for some time for a structural engineering firm based in Oklahoma.
We did low-rise commercial buildings all over the country, including
California.  However, we had a special-projects group specifically for
California and Oregon, that did the designs prevalent in those states
including plywood diaphragms--I can't CONCEIVE personally of using anything
other than steel deck--and wood joists.

All well and good, but I never had the need to do their work, and they
didn't do mine; for the "assembly line" environment of that shop, we had to

So the "vast database" set up by SEAint, while generally valuable, is not
going to be the first stop shopping center for someone here in the
Southwest, or the Southeast, or what-have-you.

Dennis said himself:  California has a huge preponderance of structural
engineers, and they will inevitably swing the big cat on the SEAint list.
That's fine, and I'll be sure and always be present to browse through their
posts.  But it is no snub to suggest that the vast majority of topics
discussed on hold no use for me or most of the other engineers
here in Texas.

> Polhemus is interested in the social aspects of the list and
> this is fine. I save content relevant to the work I do so that when I am
faced with a
> dilemma, I review the opinions of my peers and decide on the
> appropriate course of action.

A good point, but some of us are not so methodical, so "Teutonic" in our
outlook.  My networking is much more freeform and eclectic.

Simply a matter of personal preference.

And, yes, I DO want some socialization.  Ironically (since this sounds like
it oughta be coming from California--although Austin, Texas would be
appropriate also) I take a more holistic approach to life.

I love the arts, literature, and the more "romantic" take on the sciences a
la "Nova".  But when work's to be done, I can be just as dry and nerdy as
anyone who ever donned a pocket protector.

I just think that there is a time and place for everything, and I like to
mix it all up a bit, and not be so compartmentalized.

That said, I appreciate the ruling that this SEAint list is mainly for
technical discussions only (and fervently hope that this much more esoteric,
philosophical stuff isn't seen as out of hand).  It IS important not to
clutter it up too much with arcane banter and off-topic material that must
be waded through if people like Dennis are to use the archives as
effectively as they can.

That's another reason why I like my private, personal, free-form,
unencumbered-by-any-formal-organizational-affiliation mailing list idea.

> Regardless of who believes this to be an important service or
> who believes
> who should lead in the development of this medium the fact
> remains that
> SEAint was the first to put up the dollars, purchase the
> server, establish
> this list for the last four to six years and not ask anything
> in return from
> those who subscribe.

Times change.  I'm sure that six years ago, it was a heady proposition to do
such a thing, and I applaud them for it.

Of course, when I bought an $800 memory upgrade for my trust 468 computer
three years ago, I felt the same way.  Nowadays, such an upgrade would be a

The fact is, it is CHEAP to set up a private email discussion list on the
topic of your choice anytime you want, now.  You don't have to buy servers,
you don't have to arrange for T-3 access, or anything of the sort.  You just
have to pay a nominal fee, and start signing everyone up.  A little patience
with, for example, the MAJORDOMO script commands is all that's required to
do sufficient maintenance.

So with all due respect to SEAOC, thanks for the pioneering effort, but the
world changes.

> The fact that the server and the
> sponsorship for SEAint
> belongs to Structural Engineers Association of Southern
> California with the
> support of SEA of California indicates that one of the most
> influential
> professional organizations has identified the need to pull other
> organizations together,

Would that other organizations were so enlightened. Some time back, when
this was still problematic, I asked someone from SEAoT if they were going to
do likewise.  The response was interpreted by me to indicate a serious lack
of interest on their part to do so.

However, as I mentioned earlier, it is becoming unnecessary to have
organizational backing.  Therefore, it is simplicity itself to start one's
own list, and maintain it, and have it thrive, grow and provide a useful
function for as many as desire to participate.

I think (and pardon me if I'm unfair in this) that you are stuck in a
paradigm that is rapidly becoming invalid.  The truth is that it is simply
not necessary for such an electronic forum to require heavy institutional
backing any longer.

True, I'm not proposing nor do I have any interest, in replacing such
institutions as SEAOC or SEAoT.  We need 'em to hire hotels to have meetings
where face-to-face contact is required.  We need 'em to influence and effect
changes in code-writing bodies.  We need 'em for all the sorts of reasons
formal organizations are required.

But no longer are they needed to provide electronic fora such as this one
(or StrucTX).

> Finally, if not for the SEAint List - Polhemus and others
> would not have the
> opportunity to seek subscribers with common interest on the
> Internet and
> invite them to his list.

Absolutely.  And if it weren't for all the many, many system administrators,
nets, servers, and the miles and miles of physical infrastructure, the
Internet would not be possible, either.

There is a great deal of interdependence, and no one can claim the
ascendancy.  "Will the hand say to the eye, 'I have no need of thee'?"

>  I object to subscribers denigrating SEAint in spite of all
> the work that
> SEAint has accomplished over the last few years.

Hm. I was not aware this was occurring.  Certainly as a participant on this
list who lives in Texas, and thus has little or no involvement in the
internal politics of SEAOC, I have no reason thus to denigrate SEAint.

> I suggest you go to the middle of this letter and review
> those names I've
> posted - these are the devoted "joiners" who cared enough to make this
> Listservice possible. They have worked in the background and
> have for over
> six years remained anonymous. Other than Shafat and I, these are the
> backbone that help make these "tools" a reality for over 12,000
> professionals around the world. This is a good time (in the U.S. our
> Thanksgiving Day) to remember them.

I am very thankful.  The technology we have now is incredibly powerful.

But it is also now very cheap and easy to implement.  I do not have Shafat's
facility with computer languages, mentioned earlier in your post, but it is
no longer needful to have such, in order to implement electronic fora.

So, let us give SEAint its due, as we also fondly remember Unix (or CP/M for
that matter).  And further, let us realize that the times, they are