Motorizing Archipelago

Voice Card  -  Volume 33  -  John Card Number 1  -  Sun, Oct 30, 1994 9:13 PM

This is a response to VC 33 Stuart 2 ("Ye Gads, A Changed Course")...


There's just no predicting you Archipelagoans! Now Stuart, champion of our quaint postal rhythms, has gone over to the other side and is openly advocating the "motorizing" of Archipelago. Next I suppose Paul will start arguing against massive text dumps.

The one aspect of sending Archipelago out onto the infobahn that appeals to me is doing away with all that stamp-licking and stapling and endless disk copying. For that reason alone I would find submissions-by-modem tempting. And with a growing number of Archipelagoans online (see next card) the transition would be relatively painless.

First a word (or, rather, a paragraph) of caution. I still hold fast to my position that turning Archipelago into just another bulletin board or usenet group would essentially destroy the measured, seasonal pace that makes this group what it is. As I've said before, a bulletin board format compares to our current scheme the way telephone calls compare to letters: the ability to chat back and forth almost instantly is very handy but transitory and evanescent and, these days, rather commonplace as well. Archipelago packets, on the other hand, are rare (getting rarer every year!) and quaint and, well, in a word, keepers.

A compromise would be to hang on to our quiet, seasonal rhythm by continuing to build our submissions offline using these voice card stacks and then simply e-mailing the My Contributions stack promptly upon the already reasonable deadlines. The only difference would be: NO STAMPS and NO DISKS.

Well, almost the only difference. The current speed of the average modem makes sending magabytes of extra goodies, sound effects, etc. prohibitively expensive. Thus one side affect of electronic voice card submissions would be few if any sound effects, and no color movies or multimedia hijinx. Potentially a nasty tradeoff.

But let's suppose we decide to limit future issues pretty much to voice cards only - how do we make the jump? The easiest way is for all remaining slackers to sign up for America Online (and buy a modem if you haven't already). Then I can launch an issue by simply e-mailing you the previous volume, new volume and fresh My Contributions stacks. After the usual three or four months of foot-dragging you can then e-mail me your My Contributions stack. Simple!

At 9600 baud I could probably upload a compressed issue in 20 minutes or so and download each submission in about 3 minutes. The cost would be not much more than a dollar per issue which you would pay yourselves as part of your AOL fee, so we could eliminate the annual subscription. (But note that all of these numbers quadruple at 2400 baud, so 9600 baud or better is strongly recommended.)

Paul, Roger, Drury, Janine, and I are already onboard. So now it's up to Suzanne, Stuart, and Holly. What do you say?