Infosystem Mongolei - Overview and History

Infosystem Mongolei was established in November 1993 as the first information base on Mongolia in the Internet. Its full title ran: "Infosystem Mongolei - An Internet-based Journal on Mongolian Affairs". At the beginning, it used to be a gopher server with a selection of topics, then simply known as Infosystem Mongolei .

Infosystem Mongolei quickly gained a faithful global readership of at least 1,000 or more regular users, among them Westerners and Mongols alike. The given figure is a very conservative estimate based on statistics which by now (i.e. spring 1996) are more than one year old.

One of the more popular documents of Infosystem Mongolei is the Mongolia FAQ which gets distributed every now end then, but at least once a month provided the editor is close enough to a computer. A recent survey showed that the Mongolia FAQ is stored or mirrored in dozens of sites in Europe alone. Though still accessible to a limited degree, the gopher site is now gradually being replaced by this WWW site and officially ceases to exist in spring 1996. Despite the coexistence of the old gopher server and the new WWW server you are strongly encouraged to use this WWW site exclusively. The old gopher server is not updated anymore, and all new contributions will only be published at this WWW site. Like the old gopher site, the WWW version of the Infosystem Mongolei offers a wide variety of information and materials on many subjects.

From the very beginning, Infosystem Mongolei had the strong intention to create a truly multilingual system. It is easy to see that most of the articles are either written in German or in English, and the editor hopes to provide English translations for the German articles in the far future.

At least for Mongolian, the promise of creating a multilingual environment has somehow become true. The Infosystem distributes also a (unfortunately still pretty limited) number of documents in Mongolian, both Modern and Classical Mongolian. Using modern technology, these documents can be viewn and processed on any IBM-compatible platform as well as X Window workstations using the MLS software package which is available for free in Infosystem Mongolei.

April 1996 finally saw the birth of a new technology for displaying Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters in Infosystem Mongolei. This technology is completely independant of any existing or absent Asian Language Support of your workstation of computer; it employs the built-in capabilities of graphical browsers such as Mosaic or Netscape. The development of such a technology was thought necessary since numerous publications on Mongolia, no matter where they originate, frequently heavily quote Chinese language materials.

The long-term goal of Infosystem Mongolei (projected over a period of between 10 and 20 years) is the creation of a "Mongolia Handbook" which will provide information on every aspect of the Mongolian world.

Infosystem Mongolei is still basically a one-man endeavour, with only very occasional support for editing and related work. Were it not for the many contributors who submitted so many articles already, Infosystem Mongolei would not be half of what it is at the moment.

Since it is a one-man operation, Infosystem suffers much from the constraints placed upon the editor who has to travel frequently. Sometimes the site "sleeps" without visible change for months, then again there are periods where articles are published weekly.

The editor of Infosystem Mongolei wishes to thank Mr. Giedke, Mr. Hecht, Mr. Bechlars, Mr. Reker and Mr. Tschach at the ZEDAT (Zentraleinrichtung für Datenverarbeitung der Freien Universität Berlin - Free University Berlin - Central Data Processing Centre - the physical site of Infosystem Mongolei) for their constant support. They made many of the ideas realized in Infosystem Mongolei possible.

Oliver Corff, Berlin, April 3rd, 1996.