AEGEE was a pioneer in IT matters — at least in its early years. Since international phone calls were very expensive, lots of antennae embraced the possibilities offered by the Internet very early. In this article from 1990 AEGEE-Milano member Giuliano Giovannetti makes the network familiar with the wonders of e-mail. It was first published in the AEGEE-Europe Newsbulletin in February 1991.
EARN – Electronic Mail Is Here
Maybe you’ve heard something about EARN, or about Electronic Mail (E-Mail), but you have never figured out how it could affect your life or how much it costed. And here are the answers:
COSTS: E-Mail is for free. Yes, for free, because EARN (European Academic Research Network) is a non-profit E-mail network. We’ll see later how to use it and what you need.
WHAT IS E-MAIL? E-mail is like normal mail. That is it delivers a message from one place to another. But it does it faster. It actually takes seconds to reach a place thousands of miles far away from you. So when you need the list of the participants to your congress from another antenna, you can get the list immediately (well, first someone must read your message and write the answer). And if your congress needs ideas, you can get them as soon as they are thought by their author.
So, E-Mail is a fast way to do the same thing you are already doing, and allows you much more contact with the other antennae. It is better than phone because if the person is not there, your message will be put in his E-mailbox and he’ll read it as soon as he gets connected.
SERVERS: But there is more than a simply fast mail. Imagine you are responsible for [the AEGEE-Europe magazine] Scope. You would like to have articles quickly, and possibly in computer format so you don’t have to type them again, and maybe other people’s comments on that article, and even more the ability for every antenna to publish an extension to Scope with the articles that could not fit in it, but are relevant for that antenna.
And if you had to work at TEAM ’90 or another project in cooperation with other antennae, you should spend a lot of money in meetings if you just needed to interact a lot with each other.
Or simply think about your Summer University: wouldn’t you like to show all the details of your program, or the last-minute changes, without phoning to hundreds of people? Yes you would, as much as you would like to receive names of participants with their relevant data already in computer format, ready to enter in a database.
Ok, then you need a server. AEGEE needs a server. A server is like a blackboard (or a set of blackboards, each for each topic) where you can write your message and everybody will be able to read it without you sending a copy to everybody. Servers already exist on EARN and they provide selections of articles from different magazines, or the ultimate discoveries in a certain area, or lists of offers and requests for jobs, partnerships, etc. We are working in order to set up a server for the specific needs of AEGEE.
THE TECHNICAL STUFF: You don’t need to be a computer wizard to use E-mail, but it is better if someone studying computer-related sciences in your antenna takes the responsibility of setting up E-Mail for your antenna.
To this guy, the suggested procedure to follow is as this:
- Find out who is the director of the Computer Center of your university, and tell him about AEGEE, how smart we are, etc.
- Ask him to give you an account on a computer connected to EARN. Practically ALL the universities in Europe have at least one computer that is (typically a VAX or a mainframe IBM). Maybe you will need a permission from your rector, but it should not be a problem.
- Once you’ve got the power (the code) ask for some instructions and then send me a message. “Me” is TAEGEE01 at IMIPOLI. Other connected antennae are Delft, Bonn, Heidelberg, Rotterdam.
Since you can use E-Mail from the computer terminals in your university you don’t need to buy any computer of your own. That is, you really can spend 0 ECUs in this task. But IF you have a computer, and you have/buy a modem, and you have a telephone plug near your computer and the big computer at your university can be reached by the normal telephone line (as usual, but ask the director), THEN you can do all the E-Mail work comfortably sitting at home, or in your nice AEGEE office, just spending the money of a local call to send a message everywhere. In this way it is also possible to send files in MS-DOS or Macintosh format to an antenna with a similar equipment.
You can send it everywhere, because EARN is European, but it is connected in some way to all the mayor networks in the works (like bitnet). So when AEGEE gets worldwide, we are ready!
Giuliano Giovannetti, AEGEE-Milano
PS: This article was written in 1990. Now many more antennae and also the News Bulletin are already connected to EARN.