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80 SHOFAR Spring 1994 Vol. 12, No.3 JEWISH RESOURCES IN COMPUTER NElWORKING1 by Lucia Ruedenberg New York University During the summer of 1992, one enthusiastic user on the "JewishNet" discussion list extolled the benefits of computer networking: Why ignore the potential for networking all major Jewish library collections' catalogs? for making Bar Han's responsa database available to any scholar [or] Halachist writing a tshuvah? Can't find genealogical information? Telnet to Beit Hatfutsot's database server and look up your heritage! Suppose we started a forum for "Jewish" recipes, putting them into a database for anyone to access? I think that the potential is there for Jews to make use of the network in many aspects of Jewish life. Remember, during the Russian coup, some of the only information smuggled out of the country was through Amateur Radio and computer networks ... when all official communications channels, especially news and phones, were cut off. If the Jews had had such a network at the time of the Holocaust, the entire world would have heard what was going on very quickly, and the war might have been over much sooner. Whereas the Diaspora Museum does not yet have a database server, tremendous strides have been made to take advantage of and promote the potential of computer networking for the Jewish community. For the price of a local phone call, you can: • get daily translations of the Hebrew news • go job hunting, advertise your apartment, discuss politics, religion, philosophy, or education 'This paper is archived at the Global Jewish Information Network. Telnet to: www., log in as "jewishnet". Choose "Jewish networking papers." An earlier version of this paper appeared in theJewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, Vol. 16, NO.7 (1994). Jewish Resources in Computer Networking • chat with your friends in Australia • meet Jewish singles from around the world The Net 81 Ifyou are a university student or faculty member, you most likely have access to the two major non-commercial networks for academic and research institutions: BITNET and the Internet. If not, there are numerous networks that provide gateways to them. LaQuey (1993) notes that this worldwide system of networks and gateways is commonly referred to as "the net." Quarterman (1990) has journeyed through them all and documents them in his book The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conjerencing Systems Worldwide. The Internet grew out of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency), created in 1969 at NYU in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense. In 1986, with the formation NSFNET (National Science Foundation Network) the Internet expanded to connect universities and researchers across the U.S. and around the world. Today the Internet is owned by approximately 18,000 organizations worldwide, from· large corporations to military services and government agencies. According to Quarterman (1993), the Internet today extends to more than 40 countries, connecting over 8,000 networks worldwide, comprising more than 1.3 million computers and about 8 million individual users. After the U.S., the countries with the most Internet hosts are Australia, Canada, and Germany. The countries with the most hosts per person are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. The Internet, which equals the population size of a small country, constitutes the largest and most directly connected community in the world. BITNET (Because It's There NETwork) is the largest general purpose academic network, founded in 1981 by City University of New York and Yale. Today, BITNET extends worldwide to all the major academic institutions that use IBM protocol machines. Hank Nussbacher, one of the founders of BITNET at CUNY, moved to Israel in 1982 and is a senior networking consultant to MACHBA, the Israeli Interuniversity Computer Consortium. In an e-mail interview, he recalls that when he moved to Israel he had "a sort of net-withdrawal symptom and lobbied everyone in site [sic1to connect up." Once IBM Europe was convinced to fund BITNET for an initial 3-year trial run, Israel was one of the first countries to connect. 82 SHOFAR Spring 1994 Vol. 12, No.3 By August 1984, BITNET was established in Israel and the Internet followed in August 1990. They are both run by HAN...


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