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Edited by Caroline Anns
Reviewed by Harry E. Pence

Note: This article was scanned using OCR from the Spring 1995 CCCE Newsletter. Please contact us if you identify any OCR errors.

This second volume in EDUCOM's "Strategic Series on Information Technology" is similar in approach to its predecessor, Campus Computing Strategies (reviewed in the December, 1984 issue of the "Newsletter"). Ten institutions that are considered to be leaders in the implementation of computing technology are reviewed, each in an individual chapter, to assess their current status and future plans for computer networking. The universities included are Wesleyan University, Dartmouth College, Carnegie Mellon University, Rensselaer Polytechnic University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Cornell University, The University ofMichigan, The University ofMinnesota, and The Pennsylvania State University.
Even though these schools represent a variety of campus types, many readers of this Newsletter probably will not find a school in this list that could serve as a model for their own campuses. Pioneering on the scale described here requires both deep pockets and extensive prior expertise. Wesleyan University, the smallest institution included, has a combined graduate and undergraduate enrollment of 3,100 and consists of 118 buildings on a 120 acre campus. Many small undergraduate schools may find that their needs are adequately met by much simpler networking systems than any in these examples.
Each chapter is written by administrators who are closely concerned with the implementation of the campus network. The authors provide considerable technical detail without becoming too immersed for the reader with little previous networking background. Perhaps more important, their narratives seem to be unusually candid about the problems that have been enconntered. Therefore, these presentations should be useful to a broad audience, networking experts, campus administrators, and users.
Perhaps the most important generalization that can be drawn from these various experiences is the need for careful planning and especially for oversight of the actual construction work. Many of these reports dramatize the problems of being on the "bleeding edge" oftechnology. Indeed, one author was moved to 'fonnulate the First Networking Aphorism, "Thesooneryoustart, the longer it takes." Even though these campuses did possess considerable expertise in computing, many emphasized the importance of a good consultant. This advice was underscored by the reports that at least two of these institutions encountered significant problems with the contractors who installed their networks.
The last three chapters of the book offer concise, but very informative, discussions of protocols and standards, campus wiring, and national networks, three important topics that are frequently confusing to those who are just becoming interested in this networking. The glossary provided at the end will also be very useful for readers who are not yet familiar with this variety of computer jargon.
Exaggeration and hype are not uncommon in describing computer products, but the development of computer networking appears to have been accompanied by more than the average amount ofhyperbole. It seems that almost every year for the past decade has been identified by some group or other as "The Year of the Network." As a result, it's been easy to overlook the steady progress that has really been made. This book realistically describes the current status of the field, both the problems and the potential, and so provides an excellent overview of an important area.
The case studies described in this volume indicate .that campus networks are becoming a major education resource at many institutions; it seems likely that these changes will have effects far beyond the few institutions that are chosen for the case studies. Although this book will probably be most useful for those who are directly involved in the formulation of campus or department computing plans, it a1so provides some excellent perspective on the problems and potential advantages of computer networks. It should be considered for purchase on that basis.
*Chemistry Department
Oneonta, NY 13820
03/05/95 to 03/09/95