7.0419 Humanist & Advertising: Question & Comments (4/129)

Mon, 17 Jan 1994 17:15:51 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0419. Monday, 17 Jan 1994.

(1) Date: 15 Jan 94 23:13:16 GMT (32 lines)
From: johnstonj@attmail.com (James Johnston )
Subject: Re: 7.0411 More comments on advertising

(2) Date: Fri, 14 Jan 94 23:28:39 EST (15 lines)
From: abrook@ccs.carleton.ca (Andrew Brook)
Subject: Re: 7.0411 More comments on advertising

(3) Date: Sat 15 Jan 94 11:59:50-PST (39 lines)
From: Ken Laws <LAWS@ai.sri.com>
Subject: Re: 7.0411 More comments on advertising

(4) Date: Sun, 16 Jan 94 16:40:32 MST (43 lines)
From: George Lang <GLANG@vm.ucs.UAlberta.CA>
Subject: Corruption of Internet?

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 15 Jan 94 23:13:16 GMT
From: johnstonj@attmail.com (James Johnston )
Subject: Re: 7.0411 More comments on advertising

I need guidance from recipients of HUMANIST. I am a member of the commercial
community. I sell a product called WordCruncher. WordCruncher for Windows is
ready to be released in beta form to those who are interested. Insofar as
WordCruncher continues to be developed on a University campus, and given that
mine is a very small company, there are very limited resources with which to
advertise the impending release of a new product.

Because we are a small company, we will have to charge even for the beta
version of the product. It is bound to have bugs, and anyone who uses it will
have to be patient. Is it permissable or ethical for me to publish the details
of this offering on HUMANIST, or other discussion groups or lists on the

If not, where should I turn to make the members of the ever-expanding computer
users in the humanities aware that such a product exists? I realize that by
merely mentioning this, I am engaging in a sort, "I am not going to tell you
se, but I will accept the risk. While I certainly
do not wish to engage in the sort of electronic junk mail that now assaults us
through the post and fax, I would like to understand what members of this
community think about simple announcements.

Is even this a breach ?

James Johnston
(801) 756-1111
(801) 756-0242 (Fax)
P.O. Box 446, American Fork, UT 84003-0446, USA
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 94 23:28:39 EST
From: abrook@ccs.carleton.ca (Andrew Brook)
Subject: Re: 7.0411 More comments on advertising

My response to the cries of outrage about the message on how to advertise
in the Internet business ma: AMEN!! It would be a disaster for anything
to mess up this wonderful service.


Andrew Brook, Professor of Philosophy
Director, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies
1101 Dunton Tower, Carleton University
1125 Col. By Drive, Ottawa, CANADA K1S 5B6
Ph: (613) 788-3597 Fax: (613) 788-3985
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------50----
Date: Sat 15 Jan 94 11:59:50-PST
From: Ken Laws <LAWS@ai.sri.com>
Subject: Re: 7.0411 More comments on advertising

I can certainly understand members' concern at HUMANIST
becoming an advertising channel, but what is the concern
about Internet? Academic use doesn't deteriorate as
commercial use increases (within limits). The opposite
is true, as the military is now discovering with their
obsolete MILNET system. And ARPANET/NSFNet funding was
always considered a stop-gap until commercial R&D
became feasible. NSFNet was funded to open new
technologies, not to choke off commerce.

As for HUMANIST itself, I would accept a "social contract"
view that permits the members (or moderators) to choose
what kind of speech is acceptable. Then there is also
a social contract with the sysops who decide whether
or not a given discussion list will propagate over their
systems. Perhaps even a further social contract with the
taxpayers (in each country) who pay for the sysops and
their systems.

Before we reach too quick an agreement on a no-advertising
policy, I should mention that my offer last month of a
2-month free trial subscription to my Computists'
Communique drew 17 takers from HUMANIST. I would like
to think that they were well served by HUMANIST's
tolerance for my announcement. (And there was tolerance:
no member of the discussion list raised any objection
to me.) Commerce itself isn't the problem; but
good net citizenship is required. Commercial messages
should be relevant, short, and infrequent, individually
and in aggregate. Otherwise they interfere with the
chief purpose of the list.

-- Ken Laws
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------54----
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 94 16:40:32 MST
From: George Lang <GLANG@vm.ucs.UAlberta.CA>
Subject: Corruption of Internet?

From: George Lang
With all due respect to all concerned, it seems to me that the recent
objections to "advertising" on Internet raise at least as many questions as
the original message (which I admit I deleted without reading, once I saw its
subject heading).
The first is that it seems extremely naive to imagine some zero degree of
personal communication either on or outside of Internet, a state in which
disinterested scholarly individuals exchange points of view with no
institutional distortion or "profit" involved. I don't know how the rest of
you are connected, but my hard and soft contact is deeply embedded in an
institution with agendas that are far from neutral; and though this might be
extremely obvious in the case of scientific exchange (including the social
sciences), it remains true for the humanities. It is of course an accepted
platitude among us humanists that we are not tainted by considerations of
profit or career, and that there is another group of humans out there who are
-- though our annual salary and promotions evaluations and collective
negociations with our employers do, I've noticed, occupy a lot of our
attention. As any one who has ever been involved in entrepreneurial activity
can attest, the line between one's intellectual and creative energy on the one
hand and "business" is not always cut and dried. Indeed, I noticed during the
years that I worked for a living as a salesperson (mea culpa!) that in some
ways business people are, apart from being more pleasant than at least some
scholars, occasionally more honest, the need to sell again to the same
customer enforcing some fine points of behavior missing in academe.
My personal point of view on this matter notwithstanding, it seems that
the issue here is ultimately one of truth in labelling, and that our editor is
perfectly capable of determining when there is a discrepency between what is
advertised, as it were, in the "come-on" subject heading and the content of
the message. If we don't like the subject, we can delete it with no more ado.
Personally, I would rather have that freedom than accept someone else's
arbitrary judgement about what is junk and what is not.

George Lang
University of Alberta
..George Lang, Romance Languages FAX: 403-492-9112..
..University of Alberta E-MAIL: GLANG@VM.UCS.UALBERTA.CA..
..Edmonton, CANADA T6G 2E6 OFFICE PHONE: 403-492-3272..