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Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
Internet news and notes
The Internet is becoming an integral part of academic and professional life in the late twentieth century. In the last decade or so, literally millions of Internet discussion groups and Web pages have sprung up around the world. The topics addressed in these Internet sites range from the mundane to the profound. Collectors, genealogists, political junkies, academics and almost every conceivable interest grouping now has one or more Web sites or discussion groups available to interested parties. All one has to do to find these groups is to search them out online to "Surf the net", as they say.
This column will be devoted to searching out sites that may be of interest to the readers of this Journal of Management History. There is a wealth of information about management history on the Internet today. If you do not believe me, go look for yourself.
How does one go about looking for information on a topic like management history on the Internet? It is easy. However, one first must connect to the Internet. To do this, one needs three things one needs:
a computer with the capability to connect to the Internet via a telecommunication link (this can be either a telephone or a network connection);
;the necessary software to enable the computer to effect a connection with to the World Wide Web (casually referred to as "the Web" or just plain WWW. This software is needed is called "browser" software, and most typically comes in one of two varieties, Netscape's "Navigator", or Microsoft's "Internet Explorer." Although both packages originally were written in English, both come with the necessary support to enable them to work in other languages also. The World Wide Web is indeed world-wide these days.
to gain access through an Internet service provider (ISP). Most academic and professional organizations today provide their own ISP capabilities to employees. Those working from home often will need to subscribe privately to a commercial ISP provider.
Once connected to the Web, the reader faces one more challenge: finding content of interest regarding management history. To do this, one uses "search engines", as they are called, which are specially-written programs designed to conduct searches based on subject-matter-related key words or phrases supplied by the user/searcher. Search engines come with such exotic names as "Yahoo!" and "Alta Vista". There are literally hundreds of search engines available to the user today. They differ one from another by the language protocols used to start searches, and the breadth of the searches possible.
What management history-type information can be found on the Web? For examples, let us see what is out there for Frank Gilbreth, of time and motion studies fame. Using the Yahoo! search engine on this name, 4,600 matches or "hits" were found! Similarly, 29,910 matches for Chester Barnard were found. Henri Fayol achieved 241 hits.
Unfortunately, calling up a search engine and specifying a name or topic to be searched for is only the beginning. Is Chester Barnard really discussed in 29,000 different sites on the Web? Not really. What Yahoo! found were almost 30,000 instances in which the words "Chester" and "Barnard" were found either separately or in combination at various Internet sites. Once a researcher finds a richness like this, then the fun begins. He or she must review them and winnow the list down to the few that look really promising
It is at this point in the search process that I see this column playing a useful role. What are some of the really useful or informative sites about management history topics or people on the Internet? In future columns, I hope to address this matter. Which of the 30,000 sites that come up from a search for Chester Barnard are really of any interest to management history scholars? Which of the 4,600 regarding Frank Gilbreth? These questions take us out of the realm of the Internet and back into the world of scholarship: we must search out the useful ones.
Finally, this task is large enough to occupy tremendous periods of time, and the efforts of more than one person. Readers, therefore, are invited (and entreated!) to communicate news of Internet sites which you think might be of interest to others. We will publish these, with appropriate credit, as space allows. Who knows? Maybe we will have to start up our own Web site to accommodate all the contributions?
Bob MunzenriderSchool of Public AffairsPenn State Harrisburg, MiddletownE-mail: email@example.com