From the HBD Archive
From: sjsca4!greg@uunet.UU.NET (Greg Wageman)
Subject: Homebrew & Compuserve
Date: 1989-04-12 15:57:12 GMT

Rob Gardner writes:

>Consider that out of the tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of
>people who have access to Usenet/BitNet/CSnet/Arpanet/etcnet, only
>about 350 have elected to subscribe to the Homebrew Digest. Out of
>those 350, there are only around 5 or 10 people who contribute articles
>regularly, and only about 30 or 40 who ever contribute. (Diclaimer:
>these numbers are the purest shimmering wild assed guesses.)

Compuserve has just celebrated their "500,000th user". Don't ask me whether
that's 500,000 *active* accounts, or they've just issued their 500,000th account
in their history. In any even, they rival Usenet in number of potential
readers. And unlike usenet, there is an organization behind them which
publishes a magazine which does features on things like a homebrew forum to
attract members.

>Now, let's look at the people who will subscribe to the compuserve
>homebrewing discussion. They are a similar group, but with one
>important difference: they will have to be loaded with money. For in
>order to access compuserve, you must own a modem, and a terminal or a
>personal computer! You must also have bags of money to pay the connect
>charges. Now, it is true that lots of people brew beer, and lots of
>people have PC's, but how many people are interested in both? I
>predict it will be a pretty small number of people who are willing to
>spend the extra time and money.

Unlike Usenet, Compuserve subscribers represent people who use their own
computers for leisure activities. The vast majority of Usenetters receive it
at work, or at school. And very few actually pay for it (that some *do* pay
for it is another argument against the above). Compuserve subscribers, on the
other hand, pay by the minute. Thus, they tend, overall, to be an upscale
group. No one expects the Homebrew forum to attract *new* users; but existing
Compuserve subscribers already have their terminals or PC's and modems, and
presumably some money to spare for homebrewing. The best thing that could
come out of this would be for Compuserve to introduce more people to
homebrewing. How is that bad for anyone?

>For most of you out there, the time and money you spend on the Homebrew
>Digest is close to nothing. How many of you would even bother if it
>meant you had to go through a whole electronic ritual just to log in?

Compuserve's machine-specific forums provide free software to automate the
message-reading process. On my Atari ST, I can double-click an icon
and have the machine 1) dial Compuserve 2) log me in 3) go to the forums and
get new messages from the topics I previously selected 4) log off 5) allow me
to read message threads 6) compose replies and 7) log in, post them, and log
out. No muss, no fuss, no hexadecimal incantations or slaughtering of goats.

In addition, since Compuserve's forums provide an indexed file-storage area,
lists of (for example) recipes, grouped by beer type, could be kept on-line.
The possibilities are wide open at this point. In case you haven't figured
it out by now, I am also a Compuserve subscriber. I gather that Rob isn't;
you should check it out before you write it off.

Greg Wageman DOMAIN: greg@sj.ate.slb.com
Schlumberger Technologies UUCP: ...!uunet!sjsca4!greg
1601 Technology Drive BIX: gwage
San Jose, CA 95110-1397 CIS: 74016,352
(408) 437-5198 GEnie: G.WAGEMAN

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