BIGOS at Darwin.Stanford.EDU
Fri Apr 7 12:39:45 EST 1995
I'd like to add my few cents to the discussion of openly commercial
participation on the flow discussion group.
First, I think that one needs to distinguish between participation and
sponsorship. As long as the Internet is subsidized, those that run this group
from Purdue exercise effective control. So if a company doesn't like what is
said about their product, they have no immediate recourse except to defend it
publicly - they can't threaten (explicitly or implicitly) to withdraw
funding, something which happens all the time on "commercial" media.
However, if the funding status of the Internet changes, then these
considerations could become more relevant.
Second, I think we need to distinguish between the passive roles we are forced
to play by commercial media, and the active roles that are possible in this
discussion group. If a commercial company makes a claim that one thinks is
outrageous or doesn't match their experience, it is quite easy to post those
concerns. If the claims cannot be backed up by suitable data, then I think the
message will be clear to all who follow this discussion group. In fact, I would
imagine that the marketing folks would be very careful as to what is claimed on
this group for that very reason - they would be in a media where there would be
direct feedback and questioning. Loss of control of their own marketing
strategy would not be a good thing for a company. However, this would depend on
the participants in this group not being passive but having a skeptical and
inquisitive attitude, something which we in the sciences should have anyway.
Thirdly, I think such participation would lead to further discussion on
specific instrument design, and how instruments are benchmarked, topics of
interest to me and probably other participants in this group. And lastly, I
would appreciate having access to the claims and experiences with
instrumentation that I have AND don't have, as an easy way of keeping current
with the field.
Of course there are questions of netiquette, such as labeling product
announcements as such, so participants can skip them if so desired. However, I
have confidence that such things would not be problematical.
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