by Gary R. Utter
There’s a joke that starts “unaccustomed as I am to public speaking”…
I don’t remember the rest of it. :)
Of course, I’m NOT accustomed to public speaking, I’m accustomed to speaking in public, which is quite a different thing. :)
Cindy asked me to give this talk, and the first thing she wanted me to do (perhaps the ONLY thing she wanted me to do :), was to not pull a Dean Esmay, since Roger Wagner was unable to be here this year. (It’s only an evil rumour that he made another commitment because he didn’t wish to be drafted into giving this speech two years in a row. :)
I don’t really know what a keynote speech is supposed to be, other than 20-25 minutes long, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about some things that I take especially seriously.
The first of those thing is community.
Those of us in this room, and a LOT of other people who would be here if they could, have forged a community around the Apple II, but, odd as it may seem to say so, it is not the Apple II that is important.
I know that a lot of you just tweaked when I said that. :)
However, it happens to be true. I’m not saying that the Apple II isn’t important to each and every one of us, but that in greater scheme of things, in the larger world, the Apple II COMMUNITY is far more significant than the Apple II itself.
The Apple II, and all the wonderful things about it, are no longer recognized outside our little family. Most of the things that made the Apple II special are now becoming available on other platforms. The world is catching up with us, people.
But I have not yet seen any other community of users that has what we have. The spirit, the willingness to help ANYONE (even those DOS users from the Dark Side), the support, the friendliness, the warmth and the interaction that typifies the Apple II community are qualities that are simply not found elsewhere.
Years ago, when Apple failed to release the fabled Rom 04 GS, there was a great sense of despair, and I made a statement then, on Compuserve, that I feel is still true today, and more relevant than ever…
It is not the Apple II, but the COMMUNITY that we need to strive to preserve, we had no control over what Apple would do with the II, but even though they tried to kill it, it lives still, through our efforts, and the efforts of other like us, across the country and across the world.
It lives because the community that grew up around the II, OUR community, MADE it live, and continues to do so. But year by year, our community becomes smaller. Too many people think that the fact that they have purchased a Mac or a Windows box means they have to give up the Apple II,
That doesn’t have to be the case, and SHOULDN’T be the case.
We need to find a new identity, or more precisely, we need to recognize an identity that already exists.
To me, A2 is not just the Apple II RT on Genie, it is the identifier for the whole Apple II community. I have trouble, most of the time, remembering to refer to the Appuser area on CIS _AS_ the Appuser area, or the MAUG area, I keep wanting to call it “CIS A2”.
What I would like to see happen is for the A2 community to grow and spread. Our identity, as a group, is NOT linked inextricably to the fate of the Apple II series of computers, nor is it linked to the success (or lack thereof) of Genie.
We’ve developed something special, and we need to preserve it, to enlarge it, and to make an active effort to keep this thing going DESPITE the “slings and arrows” that come our way.
Many of you here are not Genie users, and have only a vague idea of what A2 is, as an online area, but even so, you are familiar with the A2 spirit, and familiar with the community, or you would not be here in the first place.
Many more of you ARE Genie users, and A2 members, and you are concerned about what is going to happen to Genie, or more precisely, what is going to happen to A2 if Genie folds.
I can’t tell you what is going to happen to Genie. No one can. There are too many ways things can go, good ways and bad ways, to even begin to issue any kind of prediction.
Which brings me to the second thing I take seriously, and that is the future of the A2 community.
I can tell you, with complete confidence, that it is possible for the A2 community to grow and thrive. It can be done, but it won’t just HAPPEN. It is going to require work and dedication from each and every one of us, and all of our friends, and all the other members of the community that couldn’t be here this year.
I can tell you, with complete confidence, what we CANNOT afford to do, and that is to wait for someone else to do it for us, to wait for some turn of events to fall in our favor. We have to make our own future, we have to build what we want to see.
The A2 community, by it’s very nature, depends on strong online communications capability. With the exception of a dedicated few people putting out high quality newsletters, we no longer have any support from print media. The only effective way we have of getting and sharing information is on line. The only effective way for software and hardware producers to disseminate product news, or to advertise, is online. And, for all practical purposes, “online” has come to mean little else but Genie, in the form of the A2 and A2Pro RoundTables. There are A2 people, members of the community, on Delphi, and Compuserve, and on the Internet, but the BULK of people who are members of A2, the community, are also members of A2, the Genie RoundTable.
The problem with that, of course, is that we have, for all practical purposes, put all our eggs in one basket. It was not a problem that was obvious, when Genie was doing well, when CIS was still competitive, when AOL was even in the game, but AOL has given up the text based environment entirely, and CIS is headed that way. Although we can be confident that CIS will support text in certain aspects for years to come, how long they will support an Apple II in the face of continually dropping usage is less certain.
We need to preserve our options, give ourselves enough communications channels to ensure that we WILL have a place to go, a place to BE the community we have become.
That is going to require several things. First of all, we have to develop more “conventional” online resources, especially an alternative home for the A2 RoundTable operation, not only in case Genie folds, but as a SUPPLEMENT to our Genie operation. That is something that Dean and I are looking into now, and HAVE been looking into for quite a while. Lately, however, it has taken on a bit higher priority. :)
Secondly, we (as a community, not Syndicomm alone) have to develop a set of Internet resources for the Apple II, something considerably more powerful than a few newsgroups with a terrible signal to noise ratio. At a minimum, we should have one or more moderated newsgroups. We should also get to work on developing a centralized World Wide Web page, accessible not only in text, for use by actual Apple IIs, but also in graphical modes. Many of us here have other computers, fully able to access such an area graphically, and many of the people who have drifted away from the Apple II in recent years, and who are using other platforms now, are still members of our community at heart, and finding an Apple II area on the Web will attract some of them back into the fold.
We have made a mistake, I think, in focusing too tightly on the Apple II, to the point that many of us think that using some other computer is an act of disloyalty, something that disqualifies people from being REAL members of the community.
We have to recognize that other platforms are useful adjuncts to the Apple II. Many of us have to use other platforms in our day to day work, and there is no good reason that those computers can’t be used to support Apple II activity as well as the other work we have to do.
In any case, what we need to do at this time is to start developing, on our own, the resources that will allow us to keep the community healthy, even in the face of the changes in the world of online communications. There are TCP/IP tools for the GS in development, and we will see those one day. There is at least the possibility of giving ANY 6502 based computer the capability of accessing via TCP/IP, even if without the graphical interface so commonly used on the Web.
Those of us who are in some way capable of developing some part of these resources should start working on these ideas and projects. Those of us who are not able to do that should help support those who are. Each of us should look to his or her own area of expertise, or to that style of use that we find particularly effective, and imagine what resources we would really LIKE to see, then start finding ways to develop them, or to help those who are already developing them.
We also need to recruit. We need to bring people who are faithful users into the online community, and we need to bring BACK those who have left because they felt guilty about buying another platform. It’s not the machine you use that matters, it’s the machine you LOVE. :) But we NEED more people in the community, we need to maintain our “critical mass”, that number of users that it takes to make an online (or offline) community viable. In spreading out into other arenas, we face the risk of diluting our concentration below the point where we have “critical mass” anyplace, and we must be very careful to avoid that. That means recruitment, that means spreading the word, that means not only keeping the people we have, but bringing in more. That is VERY important.
Throughout all of this, we need to be mindful of who we are, and where we come from. No matter what other platforms we may be using on a day to day basis, we will ALWAYS be Apple II users. We should never be shy about admitting that, or bragging about it.
APPLE II FOREVER!!!!!!
When I gave that speech at KFest, there were things going on that I couldn’t talk about, because they were still in negotiation. Some of the things we’re working on are STILL in the planning stage, but one BIG project was recently unveiled.
We have now opened up a set of Apple II Forums on Delphi.
For the time being, A2 and A2Pro can be found in Delphis Custom Forums area.
A2 can be reached by typing GO CUS 107 at any Delphi system prompt.
A2Pro can be reached by typing GO CUS 110.
On or about December 1st of 1996, our Forums will be moving to Delphis Computing menu.
At that point, you can reach A2 by typing GO COMP A2 and A2Pro by typing GO COMP A2P.
Now, I can hear you asking, “Why DELPHI?” :)
Here’s why Delphi…….
- Delphi is fully accessible from the Internet. Apple II users can reach us from all over the world by opening a Telnet connection over the Internet.
- Delphi is usable/accessible both in the traditional text access mode AND graphical access. This means that an Apple II user who happens to have a Mac or a Windows box hooked up to the Web can use NetScape Navigator, or Microsoft Internet Explorer, or another graphical Web browser to come into Delphi and read messages.
Most importantly, in that regard, both the text and the graphical interfaces access the same message base. That is, a message posted by a graphical user can be read and replied to by a text based user, and vice versa.
- Delphi has made a committment to their text based users to maintain thier text mode access, ADDING graphical access, rather than using it to replace text access as other services have done, or are in the process of doing now.
Add these all up, and Delphi meets all the needs I described in my speech at KFest. It is accessible world wide, it is usable by both Apple II and former Apple II people, it is solidly on the Internet, and offers numerous other smaller advantages in terms of flexibility and availability.
Additionally, (and this is very important to ME), one of Delphis new owners is Bill Louden, the man who founded Genie, and a minor diety to all of us old time GEnie folks. :)
I’ve included a brief description of the plans below, and you can get more information in the signup process on Delphi. :)
Meanwhile, one further note….
We are currently developing CoPilot for Delphi for the Apple IIgs, and we are also working on a Mac version. Development of a P8 version of CoPilot is also in progress, and we eventually expect to release DOS and Windows versions as well.
I can’t give you a solid date on when CoPilot for Delphi will be available, but I expect the time to be measured in weeks, rather than months or years. :)
Oh, and for those who are curious, A2 and A2Pro are NOT the only Forums we’re opening on Delphi. We also have a PowerMac & PowerPC Forum, a MacPro Forum, a Mobile Computing Forum, and a ShowBiz Forum.
Gary R. Utter
How to sign up for Delphi………
- Dial by modem 1-800-695-4002 (or from the Internet, telnet to delphi.com)
- At the username prompt enter JOINDELPHI (if the software doesn’t enter it automatically)
- At the password prompt enter 9610SDI.
Full details about new membership plans are provided during the online registration, but here is a short summary:
Content Plan — $6.95 per month. Includes unlimited access to Delphi for those who already have access to the Internet. Pay up-front, and the price drops as low as $34.97 per year! Value Access Plan — $12.95 per month Includes both dialup access to Delphi and the Internet. The first 6 hours of use each month are free. Additional use is $2.00 per hour. Unlimited Access Plan — $23.95 per month. Includes unlimited dialup access to Delphi and the Internet. Pay up-front, and get a price as low as $16.95 per month!