Note on internet related experience - Roger Jones



Prior to 1990 I only used the internet for email and a bit of news reading.

In 1990, shortly after the start of a collaborative R&D project I started to use the internet to promote the software we were developing (and implicitly the services of the group doing the development).

FST Project Mailing List

This was done first by establishing a mailing list of people interested in the work and sending out newsletters to the mailing list. This mailing list was maintained on OfficePower, though almost all the addressed were external to ICL.

Mail Responder

At a time when I had still not managed to get interactive internet access from ICL we established the best internet based marketing operation which we could achieve under the circumstances. This was based on some software which I acquired from Oxford University for managing mailing lists and archives, which was later rewritten for us by a vacation student. This operation was based on the combination of the newsletter mailings and an mail responder archive containing extensive technical documentation, details of terms and conditions and prices. I subsequently replaced the bespoke system by majordomo.

WWW Site

In 1993 the software produced by the project was turned into a niche product called ProofPower, which was important in sustaining for a while the business of the High Assurance Team. This product has been marketed and sold exclusively over the internet. Soon after getting proper interactive internet access we were able, through an arrangement with ICL Finland, to supplement our marketing operation with a WWW site. This site provides an alternative access route to the large amounts of material previously supplied through the mail responder (>10Mb). The linking of this site into relevant pages elsewhere on the Web provided greater visibility. The material is also delivered internally to ICL from a server at Winnersh. Though the revenue stream from the software is small, the public availability of the software has been important in securing a series of contracts both for the application of the software and for its further development. This was achieved with tiny amounts of effort spent on the Web site, which is basic but effective. This is no longer my site and has moved to: http://www.trireme.demon.co.uk/

Personal Web Presence

In addition to the work I did in marketing ProofPower over the internet, I have been developing my own Web presence since 1994. This was initially placed alongside the ProofPower material and delivered via the Finnish server, but I have since acquired a site independent of ICL with domain name www.rbjones.com. This site is still nowhere near where I want it to be, though there is about 8Mb of information available.

A significant part of that information (say 6Mb) consists of a small number of works of philosophy which I have converted into HTML from plain text files using PERL. These were early experiments, and only scratch the surface of what could be done in making such works more accessible using networked hypermedia. A good example is at: http://www.rbjones.com/rbjpub/philos/classics/locke/

This hypertext version of Locke's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding has been used by the Chinese University of Hong Kong to deliver a full text search service for the work (a link is on the referenced page). The most popular of the works I have converted is http://www.rbjones.com/rbjpub/philos/classics/leibniz/ Lebniz's Monadology which now benefits from a hyperlinked glossary.

The rest of the material is really my magnum opus, in progress but barely started. I am attempting to put together a story ranging through philosophy, logic, artificial intelligence et.al. written in and for the medium, learning how to write for this medium and how to engage an audience. I initially avoided the use of images because they didn't seem particularly important for philosophical discussions, but eventually decided they are indispensable for a good presentation of any topic. So I have taken to making up icons using Paintshop Pro, though my artistic abilities are very limited. I would like to be able to move to highly interactive material, particularly in the more technical areas on logic, but at present the emphasis remains on getting the broad structure of the presentation in place, so java remains a long way down the track. I am still very much in the architectural phase of my Web site development.

Current access levels are low, averaging around 450 hits per day (excluding images) thinly spread over very many files. This reflects the rather esoteric nature of the subject matters, the low key approach which I have taken to promoting the site, and the fact that the site is so far substantially incomplete.

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