Free speech on the Net

April 5, 1996

This week, users of THESIS, The THES's Internet Service, will be able to join in a new form of scholarly publishing. We are transmitting one of the year's premier academic events, the Towards a Science of Consciousness conference, from Tucson, Arizona, on the Internet with software called Real Audio which allows the Internet to carry sound.

The Internet is not likely to replace the academic conference. For one thing, the service is not interactive - although anyone can email a response to a paper, it is not the same as standing up in a conference hall and pointing out the flaws in a rival's argument.

In any case, people like to meet colleagues and competitors, if only to schmooze potential employers. And the sheer volume of material at even a modest international conference is large.

We are carrying the plenary sessions, along with text reports of the proceedings and many texts of papers, but are not attempting to cope with parallel sessions, debates or the vital bar chat.

However, most university departments have at least one computer with a sound card capable of receiving Real Audio, and we hope you will try to get near one to give our Tucson coverage a look and listen. Let us know what you think - the address is THESIS is already carrying extensive background material for the conference, which runs from April 8 to 13. This includes many of our articles on consciousness and related fields.

During the conference, we shall add to this with conference reports and the full text of conference papers, which will be followed up by a conference report in The THES on April 19.

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