Re: The Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides

Tim Berners-Lee <>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 93 10:55:57 +0100
From: Tim Berners-Lee <>
Message-id: <>
To: Lou Rosenfeld <>
Subject: Re: The Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides
[For www wizards, there is some background to the clearinghouse
at the end of the message. This is a source of hypertextable
stuff, for anyone in a linking mood...]

>Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1993 13:51:04 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Lou Rosenfeld <>
> The Clearinghouse' mission (at present) is
>to provide subject-oriented information in the *lowest common
>denominator*, i.e., ASCII texts.  Other formats (e.g., WWW) are  
goals for
>now which we'd love to do.  The reasons for this are as follows:
>1)  Many Internet users do not have access to higher level tools,  
>Gopher and WWW, due to their hardware configurations and  

Yes, one would want to provide data in both forms from the
same source.

>ASCII guides ensure the widest possible access.

They can be generated from the HTML very simply:
	www -n xxxx.html > xxx.txt

>2)  Most of the guides are produced around the Net in ASCII format;  
we are
>just trying to collect them in one central location.

That is the crunch.  One has to get the raw information in the
form easiest for the originator.  Perhaps a simple task-oriented
markup could be used -- anything which could later be machine-
munged into both HTML and plain ASCII versions.  You might be
interested in the UU-NNA's input form
and the subject list and coverage codes which are linked to it.

>3)  We don't have a formal staff to create HTML docs or other  
>right now.  In fact, we don't really have a staff.  New means for
>accessing the Clearinghouse will depend upon either me learning new
>formats like HTML (on my list of things to do), my students' ability  
>learn and produce these documents in new formats, or the efforts of  
>volunteers (ideally, someone who is reading this message! ;-) ).

	That, after all, was how the Library of Congress stuff
	(now "EXPO") came on line: Frans Van Hoesel 

	<> just noticed that the FTP
	archive of the Vatican Library Renaissance Culture
	exhibit just cried out for being in hypertext. Maybe
	you can find your Frans van Hoesel.

> I don't know anything about the UU_NNA
>metalibrary, so a pointer would be appreciated.  I know a little  
>O'Reilly, but don't have a pointer at this moment and would  
>someone who has it handy sending it to me so I can have a look. 

	All the other virtual library top nodes I know of
	(including now your gopher tree) can be found by following
	references from the end of our virtual library top level. See

>only way to feasibly create something that works.  One problem I've  
>with many subject-oriented gophers, for example, is that the
>administrators cannot keep up with the volume of resources.  Perhaps
>someone reading this would consider systematically creating a
>clearinghouse of Internet how-to's and other guides?  Or has some  
>somewhere already done this? 

	There are so many (collections of)**n collections about
	the internet that someone ought to make a collection of
	them ;-)...
	And I must say that the aim of the web is to make an
	understanding of the ins and outs of the net unnecessary:
	it is the real information people should be dealing with,
	not the differences between FTP and "finger".

>> Looking at Lou's current collectin, if I could make a suggestion
>> or 6, they would be, to make online access more efficient,

>> 1.  The reviews be broken down into smaller sections;
>> 2.  Headings and other mark-up be used for clarity;
>> 3.  Direct pointers (URLs) be put in to "real" online sources;
>> 4.  URLs of the "mailto:user@host.bitnet" form be used for
>>     mail addresses for example in the bitnet world
>> 5.  Where listserv groups are gatewayed into usenet, URLs
>>     of the form <> be used (as listed in
>> 5.  The general information which is repeated under many headings
>>     be reduced, using cross-references instead.
>I agree with many of these ideas, and would love to implement them,  
>many of these require editing works that are someone else's
>intellectual property.

	Hmmm... I suggest you ask for a limited copyright
	waiver allowing you editing rights as a matter of course.
	Also, you might ask for update rights in the event
	that the original author does not maintain the list.
> I'd love some help in creating more detailed
>guidelines (perhaps starting with those Tim mentions above) to pass  
on to
>my students.

	There is a guide to hypertext style on the web which
	might provide some more points.  I'd like to add any futher
	guidelines to it, or put in a section specifically on making
	lists of resources, if you would be interested.

Tim Berners-Lee
World-Wide Web project


Excerpts from Lou Rosenfeld's Original message:

   From: (Lou Rosenfeld)
   Subject: new resource for Internet guides
   Date: 3 Sep 1993 19:19:13 GMT

   The Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource 

   The University of Michigan's University Library and School 

   of Information and Library Studies are sponsoring a new 

   Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides. 

   The goals of the Clearinghouse are to serve as a common 

   location for the many subject-oriented guides now produced 

   by citizens of the Internet, and to increase use of these 

   guides by providing multiple means of Internet access to them. 

   Questions and comments are welcome; please contact Louis
   Rosenfeld (