The InterPsych Newsletter 2(1)



IPN 2(1) Sections A & B: Editorial & Introduction to IPN


THE INTERPSYCH NEWSLETTER                      AUG-OCT, 1994

                    SECTION A: EDITORIAL


Over  20 years ago what is today the Internet was born out of
a U.S. Defense Department network called  ARPAnet.  Deemed to
be  unsuitable   for defense  purposes  due to  concerns over
security breaches, the network was turned over to the private
sector.   Since this time,  it has blossomed into a worldwide
aggregation of information  and people that has redefined the
way information is used and disseminated.

Already  electronic communication has changed  and shaped the
world.  During the soviet coup in 1991, coup leaders were un-
able to restrict access to information  after seizing control
of   media outlets  as  soviet citizens  used  e-mail and fax
machines  to  communicate  with  the outside world. While the
Internet's impact has already been enormous, great changes in
its accessibility and makeup are occurring  that will reshape
the role of the Internet in our lives.  Concurrently, we must
begin  the process of redefining  not just what  the Internet
is, but what it can be.

To date,  the Internet has been marked,  and in fact defined,
by an overall lack of planning and organization that has made
finding  information difficult to impossible.   The amount of
information currently available on the Internet is stunning -
from complete transcripts  of  all  Monty Python  episodes to
images  taken  from  weather satellites within the last hour.

Although no one disputes the wealth of information available,
problems have existed finding and accessing this information.
In the past, information was often found by word of mouth, by
reading extensive lists, or by simply stumbling upon it. More
recently,   software  has been  developed  allowing  Internet
applications to be run on the desktop as opposed to mainframe
terminals.   One such application is  NCSA's Mosaic, a World-
Wide Web client which permits hypertext searches.  One of the
reasons Mosaic has been so immensely popular  is the relative
ease  with which  one can navigate through the net.  With the
advent of this and similar software,  information is both ex-
panding and becoming more  accessible. Consider that current-
ly, in part due to the lack of user-friendly interfaces, most
people's Internet literacy is limited to electronic mail.  As
navigation  of the Internet  becomes more straightforward for
the lay person, the way we communicate  and share information
and the Internet itself will be radically altered.

In addition to  changes in the ease of accessing information,
the makeup of the people on-line is also changing.  Previous-
ly, the Internet was dominated by experienced net-surfers and
new users,  or "newbies",  were treated as such and initiated
into the ways of the net. Daily more locations gain access to
the net  and  computer prices drop,  and  the number of users
grows  almost  exponentially.   Imagine  taking  a  city of 2
million people and adding 10 million!  While it is clear this
will  irrevocably  change  the Internet,   it  also  presents
tremendous opportunities.

As  the Internet changes  from being  a novelty to  being  an
important part  of everyday communication,  we must strive to
create  new and innovative  uses for the Internet.   Suddenly
communication is not limited by distance or time.  Instead of
the  latest clinical information  being discussed  in letters
and  brief  reports  in  journals,   people  have  access  to
electronic mail  groups,   such as  the  many  that have been
organized  on  InterPsych,    and can  confer with colleagues
around  the  globe  instantly.  Imagine  how the Internet can
change  the  everyday life  of someone  with  mental illness.
Whereas previously someone living with manic depression in an
isolated,  rural area would have an impossible time finding a
support network outside of friends and family,  now that net-
work is available on his or her desktop. The effect that this
type of cultural cross-fertilization will have on disciplines
such   as  mental  health   and  the  world   in  general  is
inconceivable.  As  a new generation of users  is introduced,
our goal should be to promote the utilization of the Internet
in ways never even imagined.

The Internet was designed to be a system  that has nothing to
do with the way that it is currently used.   For this reason,
it  often  appears disjointed and chaotic  (in fact,  it is).
Sadly,  it is  one of both the banes and the beauties that so
little organization  and regulation exists.   As the Internet
grows, so its unbridled manner will shrink.  Currently, there
is  a strong resistance  in the Internet community to change.
On the threshold of a new era in usage,  we must be pragmatic
about planning for the future  and  encourage  the growth  of
the Internet. In addition to changes accessibility, we face a
time  when NSF will start  charging for  access  to backbone,
accounts  will  need to be licensed to ensure accountability,
and  restrictions will be  imposed on what information can be
transmitted.    For  better or worse,    these  changes   are
inevitable,  and  to ensure that they are for the better,  we
must  decide  not only to embrace them  but  to shape them as
well.  If  we plan for the future,   we will  find the future
is now.                                          [SPS]




The  InterPsych (IP)  enterprise  is  an  astounding phenomenon:
Few  if  any  lists on  the information  superhighway  have been
able to  accomplish  so  much  in  terms of  recruiting members,
productivity in discussions,  and  proliferation  of information
in the  field of mental health  within  such a short time frame.

The InterPsych Newsletter (IPN)  has  evolved  out of the IP and
- after a pregnant-productive pause - presents itself to the IP-
based  and  larger   "virtual  audience"   now with a new staff,
format, and mission.  This section is devoted to explain you the
crux of its objectives.

With the advent of IP, you might notice more people - previously
not  connected  to such a powerful medium  - proudly remark that
they've  returned  to 20-500 messages  in their mailbox  after a
short absence.  While this has been a fad for quite some time in
other fields, the IP has been a key player in awarding many more
mental  health  professionals   this  credential  of  social and
academic reputability.

Informational  overflow  presses  each one of us  to make  rapid
decisions  on  which  messages  to acknowledge,   which ones  to
peruse, which ones to ignore.  Most messages that are killed are
boring,  unrelated to one's own activities,  annoying or deleted
simply for lack of time to read (or think).

Like mainstream social sciences are committed  to convey complex
information  in a few aggregate numbers,  information explosions
on "the net" have led to lists, exclusively devoted to reporting
developments  on  the  internet   as a whole  or zooming  in  on
specific  facets,  like  ascend groups,    the world-wide web or
gophers.  There are also possibilities  to monitor the emergence
of new lists and to request automatically compiled summaries  of
a day's communication on a given discussion forum.

The  newly established  InterPsych Newsletter devotes itself  to
reduce some  of this complexity,  while  providing readers  with
additional  insights   from more analytical perspectives  and  a
landscape  view   of  the  world  of   electronically  delivered
information  as it relates  to  research and practice  of mental
health.   As  we  believe  that  compiling  lists of topics  and
resources  will  be  too  simplistic  and  pasting   substantial
information  on  mental health - real or virtual - too long,  we
have opted for a healthy mixture of digests,  news,  information
and original contributions.

The  Charter of the InterPsych Newsletter follows. As the IPN is
chiefly delivered in e-mailable format and produced by voluntary
efforts,  restrictions had to be made  with regard to length  of
contributions.  However, the IPN strives for highest quality and
the same depth as comparable hardcopy parallels, while adding to
bandwidth,  precisely because it relies on  electronically based
resources and a highly committed, enthusiastic staff.  It is the
IPN's endeavor to provide you with time-saving summaries, up-to-
date information  and metaperspectives on voices from the net.

Still,  readers of the IPN  may be initially appalled by overall
size, but do keep in mind  that it spares you from going through
several thousands of lines instead and multiple messages. In the
interest  of  making reading easier  we  have sent  sections  as
separate files  so that readers may access sections they want to
read  or delete  those they do not want more quickly.   Also, we
suggest printing IPN for easier reading.

So  do  bear in mind  for  forthcoming IPN issues:   Don't reach
out for the delete-key too quickly - I'm  useful.           [SK]


              *InterPsych Newsletter Charter*

   The  mission of  the InterPsych Newsletter  is  to
   facilitate  the  formation  of  an  international,
   multidisciplinary community committed to advancing
   research,  theory,  and  practice in  the field of
   mental health.   It is  our aim  to inform  and to
   promote  discussion  among  professionals  in  all
   mental-health-related fields  in the  belief  that
   the    electronic-network-based    delivery     of
   information  and cooperation of sundry disciplines
   will contribute to  advancements in the field.  To
   this end, the newsletter aims to promote:

   1)   involvement in Interpsych and its continuing
   2)   dissemination of health-care information
   3)   international discussion and collaboration,
   4)   utilization of current resources on the
   5)   creation of new and innovative uses of the
   6)   theoretical and empirical research.