Hopkins in Cyberspace By Mike Field The popularity of the Internet and the complexity of its operation were much in evidence at Welch Library's first Internet Fair, held Jan. 24 to 26 on the East Baltimore campus. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff filled the Tilghman Room of the Turner Building--sometimes to overflowing--to hear a series of free hourlong lectures devoted to the Internet, Gopher, World Wide Web and other computer network resources. They came to listen, to learn and, often, to ask questions about especially troublesome Internet problems that had vexed them in the past. From novice to advanced user, everyone it seems, has questions about surfing the Net. "The purpose behind the fair is to do some Internet training on a large scale," said Karla Hahn, network-based services manager at the Welch Medical Library. "We can't train everyone hands-on as quickly as we would like, so we thought this would provide an opportunity for many people to learn." The Tuesday and Wednesday sessions featured an introduction to the Internet followed by lectures and demonstrations on more specialized subjects offering information for a variety of skill levels. Thursday's workshops were designed for network administrators and other advanced Internet users. "Things change so quickly on the Internet that no matter how much practical experience you have it's good to check up on the latest developments," Hahn said. "There's always something new." Across campus, at the educational computing laboratory in the Hunterian Building, a series of intensive, hands-on classes offered preregistered students instruction in topics ranging from e-mail to modems. At noon each day the lab held an open house, allowing new and experienced computer users to drop in and take one of the lab's 15 computers on a quick test drive down the Internet. Staff were on hand with instructional materials to distribute and answers to most computing questions. "When talking about the Internet, it's hard to sort out the helpful from the hype," Hahn said. "For most users, the biggest confusion is figuring out what the Net can do for them." Fair organizers aimed to include as much useful information as possible by demonstrating real-time use of the Internet during the course of the lectures. A special phone line was run to the podium of the Tilghman Room where a portable Apple computer, its screen projected overhead for the audience to follow along, enabled lecturers to connect directly with the Internet for various demonstrations. Of course, live computing, like live TV, is not without its drawbacks. When Frank Klatil, the coordinator of computer training at the Welch Library, tried making an Internet connection via the computer's modem for his class on Gopher, he was unceremoniously dumped. "In the old days before computer networking if you had a problem with output you never re-entered the same data, because you were dealing with a machine and you knew it would come back exactly the same," Klatil said, as he repeated the exact same steps that had proved unsuccessful earlier. "Now if you have problems, you should always try again because with the Internet, things change constantly." Sure enough, this time his efforts to connect were successful. Afternoon sessions focused on locating and accessing specific kinds of information available to health care professionals. Classes devoted to basic science, public health, nursing, patient care, scientific writing, nursing and medical education explored resources available on the Internet and reviewed search and retrieval procedures. To aid new and experienced Internet users in their search for useful information, the Welch Library has prepared a series of more than a dozen instruction sets covering everything from setting up a Welchlink computer account to the intricacies of Listserv, Telnet, File Transfer Protocol and modeming. Clearly written, well-labeled and easy to use, these sheets make a handy reference source book to keep on file. Copies of the instruction sheets may be obtained at the library, via Internet on WelchWeb or Welch's gopher, or by calling 955-3410.
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