The Cutting Edge: Computing / Technology / Innovation : POSTCARD FROM CYBERSPACE : Find Computer Comrades by Joining an Internet List

Interested in poultry health? Victoriana? The writings of Camille Paglia?

Thanks to Internet mailing lists, you can be in constant contact with people from Paris to Perth who share the same interests. Such mailing lists number in the thousands; unlike the Internet's "newsgroups," which function as forums, the material on mailing lists comes to you. You don't even need an Internet account; almost any electronic mail address will do.

There are mailing lists for almost everybody. For scholarly discussion of schizophrenia, for instance, send e-mail to listserv@umab.bitnet with the message subscribe schiz-l (your name). In fact, to join any mailing list, you typically send a message containing the word subscribe to an electronic postmaster, known as a listserver. Once you're subscribed, you'll receive messages from everyone on the list, and you can respond to them.

Communications to list members take a different address than list housekeeping, so note the listserver address in case you want to cancel your subscription. (Just send a message unsubscribe or signoff to the listserver.)

For a list of mailing lists, send e-mail to listserv@bitnic.bitnet with the message list global. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, you may find it necessary to limit your subscriptions to a couple of lists. Some lists are echoed as newsgroups and may be easier to read that way.

Also, some on-line services charge a small fee when e-mail is received from the Internet; check with your service before subscribing to any mailing list.

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