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<pre>
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Review of Community Networks, by Ken George ([email protected]), MC503 Communication Research, Emerson College, Dr. H.H. Frederick
This document is from the WELLgopher:  gopher.well.com
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URL:    http://gopher.well.com:70/
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For more information contact:    [email protected]
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Review of Community Networks, by Ken George ([email protected]),
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MC503 Communication Research, Emerson College, Dr. H.H. Frederick
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                            INTRODUCTION
      +
INTRODUCTION
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        This report is a cursory review of community networks. I was
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This report is a cursory review of community networks. I was
 
introduced to the latter only recently and quite by accident.  After
 
introduced to the latter only recently and quite by accident.  After
 
hours of 'surfing' the 'net' for inspiration for a topic, I stumbled
 
hours of 'surfing' the 'net' for inspiration for a topic, I stumbled
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common to many communities across this nation.
 
common to many communities across this nation.
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        I've conceived of this report as a 'guide' for those unfamiliar
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I've conceived of this report as a 'guide' for those unfamiliar
 
with community networks.  I've endeavored to explain this phenomenon
 
with community networks.  I've endeavored to explain this phenomenon
 
with a minimum of the jargon common to the social sciences.  My
 
with a minimum of the jargon common to the social sciences.  My
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are actual articles that were published in electronic form.
 
are actual articles that were published in electronic form.
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                COMMUNITY NETWORKS: AN OVERVIEW
     −
        In order to understand the bulk of the following review of
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COMMUNITY NETWORKS: AN OVERVIEW
 +
 
 +
In order to understand the bulk of the following review of
 
community nets, it is important that the reader have a basic conceptual
 
community nets, it is important that the reader have a basic conceptual
 
understanding of the technology involved.  I found the following to be
 
understanding of the technology involved.  I found the following to be
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community networking:
 
community networking:
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        "A multi-user computer is established at a central location in a
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"A multi-user computer is established at a central location in a
 
given area and the machine is connected to the telephone system through
 
given area and the machine is connected to the telephone system through
 
a series of devices called modems.  Running on the machine is a computer
 
a series of devices called modems.  Running on the machine is a computer
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would like to place on the machine."2
 
would like to place on the machine."2
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        All across the country communities are being wired to these
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All across the country communities are being wired to these
 
"multi-user computers."  Networks are sprouting in small hamlets and big
 
"multi-user computers."  Networks are sprouting in small hamlets and big
 
cities alike.  The National Telecomputing Network has 46 affiliated
 
cities alike.  The National Telecomputing Network has 46 affiliated
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fueling the growth in community nets all over the world.
 
fueling the growth in community nets all over the world.
 
          
 
          
        A good starting point for considering the significance of
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A good starting point for considering the significance of
 
networks, is to think of the latter as critical components of what
 
networks, is to think of the latter as critical components of what
 
Richard Civille, of the Center for Civic Networking, calls the
 
Richard Civille, of the Center for Civic Networking, calls the
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cable, libraries and a host of other informational necessities.
 
cable, libraries and a host of other informational necessities.
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        Community networks can address some of the more egregious
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Community networks can address some of the more egregious
 
disparities within the information infrastructure. They are in many ways
 
disparities within the information infrastructure. They are in many ways
 
similar to public libraries.  The latter provided generations of
 
similar to public libraries.  The latter provided generations of
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empowering capacity:
 
empowering capacity:
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        *Homeless individuals in California connect with and successfully
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* Homeless individuals in California connect with and successfully lobby the local government to fund public showers and other basic amenities.8
        lobby the local government to fund public showers and other basic
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* Public libraries in Youngstown, Ohio provide low income individuals access to a local community Free- Net that contains information about area services. No prior computer experience is required to access the system.9
        amenities.8
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* The Big Sky Telegraph Company in Montana connects school children in rural localities to educational resources at MIT.10
 
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        *Public libraries in Youngstown, Ohio provide low income
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        individuals access to a local community Free- Net that contains
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        information about area services. No prior computer experience is
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        required to access the system.9
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        *The Big Sky Telegraph Company in Montana connects school
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        children in rural localities to educational resources at MIT.10
     −
        The following pages contain brief profiles of two community
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The following pages contain brief profiles of two community
 
computer systems that are on the cutting edge of community computing.
 
computer systems that are on the cutting edge of community computing.
 
One, is the Cleveland Free-Net, a standard bearer in the community
 
One, is the Cleveland Free-Net, a standard bearer in the community
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evident in the ethos of each respective network.  I've dichotomized
 
evident in the ethos of each respective network.  I've dichotomized
 
these differences (perhaps unfairly) as the 'civic' orientation vs. the
 
these differences (perhaps unfairly) as the 'civic' orientation vs. the
'commercial' orientation.  Certianly, this is an oversimplification, as
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'commercial' orientation.  Certainly, this is an oversimplification, as
 
both networks contain a range of applications, utilizations and
 
both networks contain a range of applications, utilizations and
 
activities that intersect both orientations in one form or another.
 
activities that intersect both orientations in one form or another.
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challenging to powerful economic interests.
 
challenging to powerful economic interests.
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                The Civic Paradigm: The Cleveland Free-Net
     −
        The Cleveland Free-Net(CFN) is in the vanguard of public
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The Civic Paradigm: The Cleveland Free-Net
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 +
The Cleveland Free-Net(CFN) is in the vanguard of public
 
community computing.  What started as an experiment in making medical
 
community computing.  What started as an experiment in making medical
 
information publicly accessible over an electronic bulletin board
 
information publicly accessible over an electronic bulletin board
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President and Chairman of the NPTN.12
 
President and Chairman of the NPTN.12
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        The influence of the NPTN is manifest in everything from
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The influence of the NPTN is manifest in everything from
 
language--it popularized the term "Free-Net" (now a legally protected
 
language--it popularized the term "Free-Net" (now a legally protected
 
"service mark" of the NPTN)--to the "electric city motifs" universal to
 
"service mark" of the NPTN)--to the "electric city motifs" universal to
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users.15
 
users.15
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        As the CFN represents the 'crown jewel' of community networks,
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As the CFN represents the 'crown jewel' of community networks,
 
it is unreasonable to expect other networks to duplicate its success.
 
it is unreasonable to expect other networks to duplicate its success.
 
The smaller, rurally based systems lack the institutional and
 
The smaller, rurally based systems lack the institutional and
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crucial to civil society there should be no doubt.
 
crucial to civil society there should be no doubt.
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<pre>
 
     ***The Cleveland Community Free-Net***
 
     ***The Cleveland Community Free-Net***
 
         Telnet: freenet-in-a.cwru.edu
 
         Telnet: freenet-in-a.cwru.edu
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         14. The Communications Center
 
         14. The Communications Center
 
         15. NPTN/USA TODAY Headline News
 
         15. NPTN/USA TODAY Headline News
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</pre>
    
Some Noteworthy Features: Under the Medical Arts Building see "The Byte
 
Some Noteworthy Features: Under the Medical Arts Building see "The Byte
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in which practicing attorneys answer legal questions.
 
in which practicing attorneys answer legal questions.
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        The Consumer Paradigm: Blacksburg Electronic Village
     −
        Blacksburg is a tiny village nestled in the shadow of the
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The Consumer Paradigm: Blacksburg Electronic Village
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Blacksburg is a tiny village nestled in the shadow of the
 
Appalachian Mountains in Southwestern Virginia.  The "electronic
 
Appalachian Mountains in Southwestern Virginia.  The "electronic
 
village" is the result of a collaboration of a number of parties
 
village" is the result of a collaboration of a number of parties
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         community."18
 
         community."18
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        The "critical mass" of users accrue the typical benefits
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The "critical mass" of users accrue the typical benefits
 
associated with a network such as e-mail, discussion groups, and other
 
associated with a network such as e-mail, discussion groups, and other
 
services.  Many of the latter are applied to consumer applications--at
 
services.  Many of the latter are applied to consumer applications--at
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intrigued by the possibilities of one-stop electronic shopping.  I'm sure
 
intrigued by the possibilities of one-stop electronic shopping.  I'm sure
 
there is a healthy amount of social intercourse and stimulating
 
there is a healthy amount of social intercourse and stimulating
discussion in the various conferences.  Still, the vistor acclimated to
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discussion in the various conferences.  Still, the vistor acclimated to
 
Free-Nets may find this village cluttered with an inordinate amount of
 
Free-Nets may find this village cluttered with an inordinate amount of
 
commercial 'stuff'.  Obviously, this is one of the costs of this type of
 
commercial 'stuff'.  Obviously, this is one of the costs of this type of
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partnerships were established to alleviate.
 
partnerships were established to alleviate.
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<pre>
 
                 ***The Blacksburg Electronic Village***
 
                 ***The Blacksburg Electronic Village***
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12. Health Care Information
 
12. Health Care Information
 
13. Virginia Tech Gophers and VTLS
 
13. Virginia Tech Gophers and VTLS
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</pre>
    
Noteworthy Features: The medical clinic provides an extensive database
 
Noteworthy Features: The medical clinic provides an extensive database
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                        Additional Information
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Additional Information
 
                  
 
                  
        For those interested in learning more, I suggest consulting the
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For those interested in learning more, I suggest consulting the
 
following.  This list is far from comprehensive, but the various items
 
following.  This list is far from comprehensive, but the various items
 
listed should contain information that will point the way to other
 
listed should contain information that will point the way to other
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I also recommend accessing the following networks. All are NPTN affiliates:
 
I also recommend accessing the following networks. All are NPTN affiliates:
 
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<pre>
 
Alabama: Mobile Area Free-Net
 
Alabama: Mobile Area Free-Net
 
             Telnet: ns1.maf.mobile.al.us
 
             Telnet: ns1.maf.mobile.al.us
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           Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to telnet to and I have
 
           Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to telnet to and I have
 
           yet to get through.
 
           yet to get through.
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</pre>
      −
                                Notes
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Notes
    
<I had some difficulty with putting these notes in the proper format.
 
<I had some difficulty with putting these notes in the proper format.
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gopher gopher.well.sf.ca.us.
 
gopher gopher.well.sf.ca.us.
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        2Community Computing and the National Public Telecomputing
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2Community Computing and the National Public Telecomputing
 
Network, p. 3, published on-line by the NPTN, Cleveland, Oh, 1993, I
 
Network, p. 3, published on-line by the NPTN, Cleveland, Oh, 1993, I
 
Accessed this article via the Colorado Free-Net, Telnet:
 
Accessed this article via the Colorado Free-Net, Telnet:
 
freenet.hsc.colorado.edu.
 
freenet.hsc.colorado.edu.
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        3National Public Telecomputing Network: Affiliate Systems and
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3National Public Telecomputing Network: Affiliate Systems and
 
Organizing Committees, an on-line publication of the NPTN, April 1995, I
 
Organizing Committees, an on-line publication of the NPTN, April 1995, I
 
accessed this article via the Colorado Free-Net, Telnet:
 
accessed this article via the Colorado Free-Net, Telnet:
 
freenet.hsc.colorado.edu.
 
freenet.hsc.colorado.edu.
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        4Community Computing., p. 8.
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4Community Computing., p. 8.
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        5Richard Civille, Building Community Information Infrastructure:
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5Richard Civille, Building Community Information Infrastructure:
 
Universal Service in the Information Age, p. 3, an on-line publication
 
Universal Service in the Information Age, p. 3, an on-line publication
 
of the Center for Civic Networking, Washington, D.C., (no date given),
 
of the Center for Civic Networking, Washington, D.C., (no date given),
 
gopher gopher.civic.net 2400.
 
gopher gopher.civic.net 2400.
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        6Ibid. 7Starting A Free-Net Community Computer System, an
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6Ibid. 7Starting A Free-Net Community Computer System, an
 
on-line publication of the National Telecomputing Network, Cleveland,
 
on-line publication of the National Telecomputing Network, Cleveland,
 
Oh.,(no date given), p.  2, I accessed this via the Colorado Free-Net,
 
Oh.,(no date given), p.  2, I accessed this via the Colorado Free-Net,
 
Telnet: freenet.hsc.colorado.edu.
 
Telnet: freenet.hsc.colorado.edu.
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        8Richard Civille, Miles Fidelman, John Altobello. A National
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8Richard Civille, Miles Fidelman, John Altobello. A National
 
Strategy for Civic Networks: A Vision of Change, p. 3, an on-line
 
Strategy for Civic Networks: A Vision of Change, p. 3, an on-line
 
publication of the Center for Civic Networking, Washington, D.C.,
 
publication of the Center for Civic Networking, Washington, D.C.,
 
October 1993, p.  3, gopher gopher.civic.net 2400.
 
October 1993, p.  3, gopher gopher.civic.net 2400.
   −
        9Ibid.,  5.
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9Ibid.,  5.
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        10Ibid.,  10
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10Ibid.,  10
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        11Community Computing.,  4.
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11Community Computing.,  4.
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        12Ibid.,  1-2.   
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12Ibid.,  1-2.   
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        13Ibid.,  4.
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13Ibid.,  4.
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        14Ibid.,  3.
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14Ibid.,  3.
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        15Ibid.,  4.
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15Ibid.,  4.
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        16Blacksburg Electronic Village, Vision Statement, Chapter 1,
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16Blacksburg Electronic Village, Vision Statement, Chapter 1,
 
Blacksburg, Va.,1995, gopher.bev.net.
 
Blacksburg, Va.,1995, gopher.bev.net.
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        17Ibid.,  Chapter 8.
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17Ibid.,  Chapter 8.
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        18Ibid.,  Chapter 5.
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18Ibid.,  Chapter 5.
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        19Blacksburg Electronic Village, "What Can I do?" Blacksburg,
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19Blacksburg Electronic Village, "What Can I do?" Blacksburg,
 
Va., 1995, gopher.bev.net.
 
Va., 1995, gopher.bev.net.
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                        BIBLIOGRAPHY
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 +
BIBLIOGRAPHY
    
The Blacksburg Electronic Village. A System of interlinking computer
 
The Blacksburg Electronic Village. A System of interlinking computer
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Francisco, Ca., June 1992. gopher gopher.well.sf.ca.us.
 
Francisco, Ca., June 1992. gopher gopher.well.sf.ca.us.
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This document is from the WELLgopher:  gopher.well.com
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URL:    http://gopher.well.com:70/
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For more information contact:    [email protected]
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</pre>
      
[[Category:Essays]]
 
[[Category:Essays]]

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