INTERNET'S EFFECT ON BBS USE (COMING FULL CIRCLE AGAIN) 1/1/96 Copyright 1996 Mark Robbins, Second Sanctum BBS In past articles, I have said that all bbs's appear to be doomed because of the Internet, and it is true that bbs use has seen a huge decline in past months (as compared to the last 12 years online). However, it seems now that the trendiness of the Internet, along with greedy over-commercialization and droves of people wanting to try the net as a craze, may lead full circle back to bbs use. This is my little observation and prediction. Why? While setting up home pages certainly has appeal, both visually and for the information available, many business and personal web sites are now swamped with daily "hits" of people calling in. Since the home page must reside on space sold by a provider, and all providers (of internet services) have peak periods, technical difficulties, and other weaknesses, there is no real way to determine how well your home page is being used (unless you own a provider service with UNIX machines and high dollar phone equipment). And, many home page owners are increasingly unhappy with the results on conditions on the net - overpopulation, traffic jams and more. Because of the increasing problems associated with Internet use, a new trend has appeared. Evidence of the new trend is found in professional computing publications, as well as on the net itself. This new trend is a "back-to-bbs basics" situation. It is starting to sink into the masses online that the lowly bbs offers greater security, and more commercial potential, than internet sites. The BBS is found on a desktop PC in a home or office, and is easily monitored and updated. The home page is found on a rented disk space on a machine that is inaccessable by the home page owner (in most respects), and technical problems or business activity cannot be accurately monitored. The problem that grows with Internet population is simple: everyone who is able to "surf" and look around the net, automatically thinks they have to set up a home page. They set it up full of pictures and information, no matter how useful or useless, and add to the existing glut of web sites. This adds to the traffic on the net, which is rising exponentially. And with any traffic jam, things are slowing down to a halt with all this activity. Yes, Internet Providers are worried. Your own provider, and every other one on the planet, is constantly getting more and bigger computer gear to accomodate the surge. This leads to a rate hike, then weeding out of the providers that can't keep up. Meanwhile, the BBS operator is offering Email, File transfer, and all sorts of commercial services from a desktop PC over normal phone lines. The owner of the system keeps track of every caller and every transaction has total, complete control over the system. This is hardly true of any web site or home page, where the point of business is simply rented space on someone else's machine. The only problem with this picture is the learning curve of a WEB user, who will have to figure out how to use a common terminal communications program in place of the Netscape or other dialup browser they use for the Internet. That, plus the fact that people may be frustrated with Internet, may not help that Internet burnout by a system which requires a direct (often long distance) phone call to a menu system, often without the pictures and gloss of a home page. However, if people are calling to place an order, make a payment, or get specific info, it is my opinion that photos and icons are expendable. In exchange for lack of graphics, people can do business on a secure system, and have all the Internet Email and newsgroups they would get on the net. Last but not least, the BBS scene is party to multiple large networks, not just one network of mail and topics. FIDOnet alone is every bit as large as Internet Email, and topics are just as numerous there and on other nets as the so called newsgroups on the Internet. This should have some attraction, especially in those interested in private networks (or INTRAnets). Perhaps the bbs has been in a coma, but it is not dead. It may be destined for a comeback! Instead of bailing out on your bbs and opening a home page, try opening a home page to advertise your bbs. Seems to make more sense to direct people to private systems than continue to clutter the Internet. We can all sit back and watch the bloated internet crumble under its own weight while our dialup customers continue to call BBS's like they have done for over a decade! Mark Robbins Second Sanctum BBS 817-467-1175
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