SEORF Policies

Vision, Purpose, Goals, and Intentions

Vision

The Southeastern Ohio Regional Freenet (SEORF) is dedicated to providing a low- cost access to electronic information and communication resource to residents of southeastern Ohio.

Purpose

SEORF seeks to assure such access for as many residents of our region as possible by providing public terminals in public places, establishing partnerships with area organizations, and offering opportunities for user training. SEORF is committed to the principle of equity of access without regard to users' incomes or backgrounds.

Goals

First, members of our community will be able to find and share information about their common interests and endeavors, their local governments, public service agencies, and other area organizations.

Second, community members will have access to national and international sources of information and be able to communicate with others world-wide.

Third, Internet users from outside the Athens area will have ready means to learn about activities, organizations, and enterprise here in the community.

Intentions

Our intention is for SEORF to be:

SEORF Basic Information

What is a Community Network?

The Southeastern Ohio Regional Freenet is a community-based network. It is now and will always be under construction by diverse members of the community. It provides person-to-person communication and can help you access and share information you need and want.

For example, SEORF will give you access to libraries, government services and documents, business, consumer, medical, and legal information. It might even help you figure out how to fix your car or landscape your yard. You can access information about virtually any hobby or special interest. With SEORF, you don't have to leave your home or office to get information and communicate with others around the world, as long as you have access to a computer, modem, and phone line. SEORF is open 24 hours a day. You'll be able to exchange electronic mail (e-mail) with family and friends around the world. SEORF also offers your kids a way to talk with kids across town or across the world, and work together on educational projects. Students can trade information with other students from Maine to Borneo or ask experts for help answering tough questions.

The idea of public telecomputing, or Community networks, was initiated by Dr. Tom Grundner of Cleveland, Ohio in 1984. It is quickly becoming a primary means of civil interaction in many cities around the world. These systems provide high-volume, multi-user information and communications services to a community in the same way that a public library or public radio station provides print or audio information.

How does it work? First, a multi-user computer is established at a central location. The machine is connected to a number of telephone lines through a series of devices called modems. Running on the machine is a computer program that provides its users with everything from electronic mail services, access to the Internet, to information about education, health care, technology, government, recreation, or just about anything else you would like to place on the machine.

Anyone in the community with access to a home, office, library, or school computer and a modem can contact the system at any time, 24 hours a day. You simply dial up a central phone number, make connection, and a series of menus appear on your screen, which allows you to select the services you would like to explore. All of it can be easily accomplished by a first-time user.

There are hundreds of community networks throughout the United States and in other countries as well. Community networks occupy a new middle ground between the large commercial online systems such as CompuServe and America Online, and the single-line bulletin board systems often operated by hobbyists. They have the sophistication and ease of access of the multi-user commercial systems, yet are locally designed, owned, and controlled by the community itself. Each Community network presently in existence has its own distinct local flavor and set of interests. Community networks can serve as the public library of the twenty-first century, allowing people unparalleled access to the best services and resources our computerized information has to offer.

How Did It Start?

The broad-based group responsible for initiating and administering SEORF includes volunteers representing K-12 education, Ohio University, community groups, and economic development agencies. After meeting for over a year, SEORF was "turned on" in October of 1993 for the use of the K-12 community. About a year later it opened to the public. Usage has grown exponentially since then.

Area citizens have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to make their information available to other community members around the world. Special interest information currently available on SEORF include areas focusing on education, government, health, arts and culture, recreation, religion, the media, and community and economic development. In other areas citizens can post information and contact others who are interested in such diverse topics as Genealogy, the Athens-Teustepe Sister City Association, or trains and railroads. In one area, "Chit-chat," area residents can simply talk about whatever is on their minds--an online equivalent of our popular radio call-in shows!

Where Is It Located and Who Runs It?

At the present time, SEORF "lives" on a computer which is located in the Ohio University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Our connection to the Internet is provided by Ohio University. It is administered by a volunteer steering committee and staffed through a cooperative arrangement between the Ohio University Telecommunications Center, the Ohio University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet).

To leave a question for the Help Desk call (614) 593-4986. All Help Desk questions will be answered as soon as possible.

You can also e-mail info@seorf.ohiou.edu if you have questions about our administration or operations.

You can also send the SEORF steering committee and/or staff "snail mail" at P.O. Box 887, Athens, Ohio 45701.

SEORF Staff

SEORF staff members are David Kurz (kurz@seorf.ohiou.edu), who works for the Ohio University Telecommunications Center, and Eric Hutchinson (hutch@seorf.ohiou.edu), who works for Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet).

How Much Does It Cost?

For equipment, telephone lines, materials, and staff, SEORF currently costs about $100,000 per year to operate, and that's just in cash. Support will come from many sources: foundations, corporations, small businesses, governments, information providers, and individuals like you. We are especially interested in forging innovative partnerships with local business and government that result in win-win impacts for all stakeholders.

SEORF received a federal grant to help expand the system to meet, in particular, economic development goals in our economically distressed area. The support of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program has made it possible to purchase a new server and provide staff for SEORF. It also has enabled the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks to provide improved public access, and interactive forums for small businesses, support organizations, and low-income people.

The SEORF Steering Committee

The SEORF Steering Committee is:

  • Damien Bawn, Chair of the Steering Committee; Technology Coordinator for Federal Hocking Local Schools; Teacher, Federal Hocking High School
  • Douglass Green, Treasurer of the Steering Committee; Athens City Treasurer; Controller, Specialty Books
  • Amy Borgstrom, Executive Director, ACEnet
  • Tim Myers, Director of Radio and Online Services, Ohio University Telecommunications Center
  • Tom Stork, Education Coordinator for SEORF; President of Athens Education Association, Technology Coordinator for Athens City Schools; Teacher, Athens High School
  • John Tysko, Ohio University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Systems Administrator
  • The Steering Committee is in the process of finalizing its governance structure and will be forming an Advisory Committee to achieve more broad community input into administration, planning, and direction setting during 1996.

    How Can You Participate

    As with all volunteer efforts, we need your help. Whether you have computer skills or not, chances are we need skills you have. In particular we are looking for people with time and expertise in these areas:

    If you are interested in volunteering, please check out the SEORF volunteer SIG, or leave an e-mail message at info@seorf.ohiou.edu or leave a message with the Help Desk at (614) 593-4986.

    You can also make a tax-deductible contribution to SEORF. Make checks payable to SEORF and mail to: SEORF, PO Box 887, Athens, OH 45701.

    How to Become a Member of SEORF

    Anyone in southeastern Ohio can register for an account on SEORF. This means that you will have an e-mail account, and access to assistance in making good productive use of it.

    Registering for an account is a four-step process.

    1. Read the SEORF Policies.
    2. Read, copy, and sign the release form agreement.
    3. Fill out all of the information in the registration form.
    4. Send the completed form to SEORF, PO Box 887, Athens, Ohio 45701 along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

    You will be mailed back a user ID and password. Please change this password to something that will be easy to remember, write it down, and store it in a secure place. We cannot tell you what your password is if you forget it, so you will have to start all over again! Activating your account will take from a week to ten days. If you don't hear from us within two or three weeks, call the help desk at (614) 593-4986. and leave a message. Please be patient, and remember, we're a volunteer-based organization!

    How to Become a SEORF Information Provider

    If you have information about your own hobbies or special interests, or by and about your non-profit organization, club, social group, civic organization, governmental unit, educational group, or service institution, and you'd like to share this information on SEORF, here's what you need to do:

    1. Fill out the Special Interest Group (SIG) Application Form and follow the directions. This form is available on SEORF, at the Athens Public Library on Home Street in Athens and at ACEnet, 94 North Columbus Road.
    2. You will hear back from us with a special administrative user ID and password that will enable you to create and modify your SIG. In some cases we will want to schedule a one-on-one meeting with you to further discuss your SIG.
    3. Schedule time to go through our information provider training, which is offered once a month and will teach you how to effectively create and maintain your home page. Part of the class is spent on basic HTML (hypertext mark-up language) which is the special coding that SEORF uses on all of its files. In addition, we teach new information providers how to move files around using the LYNX file browser.
    4. Sign an agreement stating your willingness to maintain your information, keep it current, and make sure it is accurate.

    What About Graphics?

    Pages on SEORF need to work well for people who are using graphical (like Mosaic or Netscape) or text-only (like LYNX) browsers. The reason: dial-in users of SEORF will see no graphics since LYNX is a text-based system. To see information on SEORF with graphics, you need to either use a SEORF public access terminal or get an account with a commercial provider that allows you to use a graphical browser.

    Will People Ever Be Able to Get Graphics with their SEORF Account?

    Maybe, but there are a lot of issues to work through before that happens. Our primary goal is to provide community-based information for the region, not to serve as a gateway to the Internet. In addition, we support local small businesses that are offering full graphical access. Finally, we don't currently have the resources for storage or technical support that would be necessary to provide full graphical access. To see information on SEORF with graphics, you need to either use a SEORF public access terminal or get an account with a commercial provider that allows you to use a graphical browser.

    Providing Personal Web Pages on SEORF

    Registered users will eventually be able to store their personal home pages on SEORF. However, we will not be able to provide any technical support for personal home page development and maintenance. Until then, if you have already created a home page and are storing it some place else, you can still point to it from SEORF. Just provide the URL to info@seorf.ohiou.edu so we can check it out before creating the link. Any pages that we link to must also have a link back to us to ensure ease of use.

    Personal Account Storage Limits

    Storage space on SEORF is limited, so each user is allowed 1 megabyte of space to store electronic mail and 1 megabyte to store other files. This is roughly the equivalent of 1200 pages of text!

    How to Market Your Business on SEORF

    SEORF is committed to serving as an amplifier and supporter of economic development activities in the region. As a community-based network, we view small business as a key stakeholder in our community. Especially in view of our status as an economically distressed region, we want to make it as easy as possible for local businesses to reach new markets and communicate with one another through SEORF and other vehicles. There are three ways that SEORF can help get the word out about your small business.

    1. You can enter up to ten lines of text in our "Yellow Pages" area for FREE.
    2. You can point to your commercial web site on another system for FREE.
    3. You can have your own web site in ACEnet's "Virtual Business Incubator" for a $50.00 set-up fee and $10 per month. Grants and loans are available if financial need can be demonstrated.

    To enter your business information in the "Yellow Pages" area" simply e-mail the information you want entered to info@seorf.ohiou.edu. The subject should be Yellow Pages. Put the content in the body of the message, don't send it as an enclosure. You may also mail the information to SEORF, PO Box 887, Athens, OH 45701. It will appear exactly as you mailed it in about a week to ten days.

    To point to your commercial web site from your Yellow Pages entry, just email the URL to info@seorf.ohiou.edu so we can check it out before creating the link. Any pages that we link to must also have a link back to us to ensure ease of use. We also ask all Information Providers to sign an agreement stating your willingness to maintain your information, keep it current, and make sure it is accurate.

    To develop your own web site in ACEnet's "Virtual Business Incubator" area, contact Eric Hutchinson at ACEnet (614) 592-3854. We will help you develop a commercial site based on our template that can include up to three pages of text, your logo, and two other graphic elements. You will also have to go through our file manager training, which is offered once a month and will teach you how to effectively create and maintain your home page, and sign an agreement stating your willingness to maintain your information, keep it current, and make sure it is accurate. The cost is $50.00 for set-up and then $10.00 per month, roughly half what is charged by many commercial services.

    The idea is that, just like in a real-life business incubator, the Virtual Business Incubator enables you to "test the waters" of Internet marketing at a low cost. If the charge is too much for you to afford right away, ACEnet has some loan funds available to get you started. Just let Eric know when you contact him about participating. Once you start making lots of money since so many people will know about your products or services, we expect you will "graduate" to a commercial service that can provide more extensive and sophisticated resources.

    Part of the class is spent on basic HTML (hypertext mark-up language) which is the special coding that SEORF uses on all of its files. In addition, we teach new information providers how to move files around using the LYNX file browser.

    If you are interested in developing a more sophisticated site incorporating longer brochures, extensive graphics, catalogs or online order forms, we can also refer you to local Internet Service Providers who will be glad to help you-but remember to point to your commercial site from a Yellow Pages entry on SEORF so local citizens can be sure to get your information! We also encourage you to become an information provider and develop a special interest group that can also point to your business information.

    Disclaimers and Other Policies

    Internet Content

    SEORF, its staff and steering committee, Ohio University, ACEnet and any and all of our affiliates do not monitor and have no control over the information access through the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Internet is a global network with a highly diverse user population. SEORF does not censor access to materials or protect you from information you may find offensive. There are sexually explicit material and other information resources which you may find controversial or inappropriate on the Internet. In addition, not all information on the Internet is accurate, complete or current. All users of SEORF access the Internet at their own risk.

    All Internet resources accessible through SEORF are provided equally to all users. Parents and guardians, not SEORF, are responsible for the Internet information selected by their children. Parents, and only parents may restrict their children, and only their children from access to Internet resources accessible through SEORF. We encourage parents to monitor their children's use of SEORF. For information about censoring software contact your local computer software distributor or check out Surf Watch and Cyber Patrol.

    Acceptable Use Policy

    Because we believe in the First Amendment, it is our intention to limit the free exchange of ideas as little as possible. However, in any society, it's necessary to have some ground rules, especially since this server exchanges messages with the Internet, which has rules of its own. Even the First Amendment doesn't allow one to falsely cry "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

    We consider all behavior acceptable except the following:

    We reserve the right to delete inappropriate messages, files and links including messages that my not specifically violate any of the above restrictions, but clearly violate their intent. Any user whose messages are deleted will be informed of the reasons for this action. Repeated violations may be cause for termination of your user account. Termination is entirely at the discretion of the SEORF Steering Committee.

    Even if SEORF fails for any reason to take action against a user for a violation of the above guidelines, this inaction will not diminish the enforceability of that or any other guideline in other instances. We cannot be held liable for content posted or pointed to by users of this server. When notified of the illegal nature of any content, SEORF will make a reasonable effort to determine the validity of the claim and take appropriate action.

    All files and messages published on this server are provided "as is" without warranty of their quality, merchantability, fitness for any particular purpose, regardless of any other written or verbal warranty either express or implied. In no event will SEORF, Ohio University, or ACEnet be held responsible for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages arising from any defect in the information downloaded from the server, including damage to property, and, to the extent provided by the law, damage for personal injury, nor for any such damage arising from the use of SEORF.

    The Southeastern Ohio Regional Freenet (SEORF) may elect to electronically monitor the SEORF system and may disclose any content or records to satisfy any law, regulation, or other governmental requests, or to properly operate SEORF and protect its members. SEORF reserves the right at its sole discretion to review, edit, or refuse to post any material or information. SEORF reserves the right to remove any public content that it deems in its sole discretion to be unacceptable or undesirable.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Answers

    How can I contact SEORF?

    At the present time, SEORF "lives" on a computer which is located in the Ohio University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Our connection to the Internet is provided by Ohio University. It is administered by a volunteer steering committee and staffed through a cooperative arrangement between the Ohio University Telecommunications Center, the Ohio University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks.

    To leave a question for the Help Desk call (614) 593-4986. All Help Desk questions will be answered as soon as possible.

    You can also e-mail info@seorf.ohiou.edu if you have questions about our administration or operations.

    You can also send the SEORF steering committee and/or staff "snail mail" at P.O. Box 887, Athens, Ohio 45701.

    What do I need to access SEORF?

    All you need is a personal computer, any flavor, a modem, a telephone line, and communications software to access SEORF. Our Help Desk can help get you set up.

    Can older computers access SEORF?

    Absolutely. Anyone with a computer, a modem, communication software, and a phone line can access SEORF. We deliberately selected the LYNX browser to make sure that those with older machines would be able to access the wealth of text information available on SEORF and through the Internet.

    What about games online?

    Don't hold your breath on this one. Local bulletin board systems (BBSs) offer tons of gaming opportunities. Any games featured on SEORF will have an educational focus. So don't look for Doom on SEORF.

    Can I telnet to other sites?

    Yes and no. If the site is in a list of sites that we present, then you can automatically telnet to the site by selecting the reference. However, we do not offer direct telnet to random sites on the internet.

    Can I FTP to other sites?

    Yes. If you're using Lynx, which is the standard interface for SEORF, type g then ftp://specific.address. You will only be able to download. Uploading is allowed for SIGs only.

    How widespread will public access be?

    Our initial federal grant allows us to place five new public terminals. ACEnet will be facilitating a process to ensure these are placed where they will be most apt to be used, especially by people who don't have access to computers at work or at home. Currently the public can access SEORF at the Athens Public Library, 30 Home Street, Athens, Ohio and at ACEnet's Cooperative Business Center at 94 Columbus Road, Athens, OH 45701.

    What about graphics?

    Pages on SEORF need to work well for people that are using graphical (like Mosaic or Netscape) or text-only (like LYNX) browsers. The reason: dial-in users of SEORF will see no graphics since LYNX is a text-based system. To see information on SEORF with graphics, you need to either use a SEORF public access terminal (list locations, or how about a map?), or get an account with a commercial provider (list) that allows you to use a graphical browser.

    Will people ever be able to get graphics with their SEORF account?

    Maybe, but there are a lot of issues to work through before that happens. Our primary goal is to provide community-based information for the region, not to serve as a gateway to the Internet. In addition, we support local small businesses that are offering full graphical access. Finally, we don't currently have the resources for storage or technical support that would be necessary to provide full graphical access. To see information on SEORF with graphics, you need to either use a SEORF public access terminal or get an account with a commercial provider that allows you to use a graphical browser.