Hitchhiking to Cyberia

The National Psycholgist

May/June 1995

Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.


Last week I had to take my mini-van into the shop for repair. When the service manager noticed my license plate (BYTE BK2) and a frame that shows my Internet address, he asked if he could talk with me for a moment. He was a little worried.

About a year ago he had bought a "state of the art" computer system for his family. Now, after watching TV ads, and talking with salespeople at a computer store, he felt that to "keep up" he had to buy a new computer because his was worthless. I spent a few minutes asking him what he wanted his computer to do for him. He told me that he wanted his children to be able to write , draw, chart, use his CD-ROM to search an encyclopedia (which came with his computer) and to find out more about what is available on the Internet. He was really shocked when I told him that his computer could do all of that and more and that I didn't think a new computer would do any better.

This story is a prelude to some mail I received in response to my column in the last issue of The National Psychologist. Here is a compilation of several questions that I received:

Q: I have an "ancient" IBM-compatible 286 computer with a dot matrix printer. I don't have the money to buy a new computer to use the Information Superhighway. What can I do?

A: It's sad that people feel their computer is worthless just because there are newer, faster models on the market. This just shows the effects of mass marketing. To be able to use the ISH you only need three things:

Q: One Psychologist wrote via e-mail: "I have just become a member of the Internet and am confused as to how this service will be of assistance. Can you recommend some books, journals, etc.?

A: I am asked this type of question daily. In this and future columns I will try to steer you in several directions to make the best use of the Internet. Much valuable material is available although it takes a road map to find it.


About two years ago there were probably only 5-10 decent books about the Internet. Now there are over 100! Two of the best are "The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog" by Ed Krol (O'Reilly) and "The Little Online Book" by Alfred Glossbrenner (Peachpit Press). They are both short and fun!


There are three magazines written for the Intermediate Internet user. Each assumes some experience with the Internet, but not much. The best is Internet World but NetGuide and Online Access are both good, too. They are very valuable in giving you places to visit when you are "surfing" the net.

Q: What is available for Psychologists on the Internet?

A: LOTS! Here is just a sampling. I will add more in future columns.


USENET is a clearinghouse for over 9,000 discussion groups on every imaginable topic. These groups are accessible from any Internet provider and from some of the commercial services. When anyone writes a message to a group (called Posting), it can be read by anyone who can read USENET groups. These groups are identified by a short phrase ("sci" for science, "comp" for computers, "rec" for recreation) followed by a period and more descriptive words. Psychologists might check out "sci.psychology" and another "sci.med.psychobiology".



MAILING LISTS provide a way of bringing together people interested in a specific topic. There are over 6,000 of these lists and they are often limited to professionals in the field. You actually "subscribe" to one of these groups by sending a simple message to the Listserv (the computer program that serves the list). Any message that is sent to the Mailing List is sent out as an individual mail message to each member of the group. Here are a few of them. For each one, you send a message to the ADDRESS and include a single line message that says:

SUBSCRIBE LISTNAME Larry Rosen (your name replaces mine!)

Very quickly you will receive a message telling you that you have been added to the list and telling you how to remove yourself from it if you wish. Here are some choices:




SCHIZ-L LISTSERV@UMAB.UMD.EDU Schizophrenia Research


A Psychologist from Wisconsin e-mailed me to tell me about how he used one of these mailing lists to get ideas about an unusual patient. "I presented this case anonymously on an Internet Neuropsychology mail group. In a matter of hours I had replies from chairs of department, senior psychologists at major medical schools and clinicians from Cambridge (England, not Mass), across the US and Australia. Especially for those in rural areas or without university affiliations, this level of consultation is invaluable for us and our patients."

A final note: Intel Corp. makes the main microprocessor (brain) for all IBM-Compatible computers. Over the years, its models have been numbered 286, 386, 486. The latest is the Pentium. Given the recent highly publicized problems with Intel's Pentium chip here is a story making its way around the net......"Do you know that Intel was originally going to name the Pentium "586" but when it asked it to add 486+100 it got 585.999995."

See you next issue! Let me know your interests!

Copyright, 1995, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with permission. The National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper which may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway Blvd., Suite 303, Columbus, OH 43232; telephone: 614.861.1999 or fax with Visa or MC to 614.861.1996.