Losing List Servers
There was another reminder from the Surfnet server in The Netherlands that they are discontinuing the Listserv service. Surfnet has hosted the Alpine-L, Arisaema-L, Bulbs-L, and Trillium-L plant lists for years. For those who don't already know, Listserv is a software suite that allows you to set up mailing lists. A member of a given list sends his message to the list server, e.g., to ALPINE-L@NIC.SURFNET.NL; then the list server sends that message on to every member of the Alpine-L list. It all works through conventional e-mail.
The Listserv software saves every message it processes in a searchable on-line archive. They comprise a formidable resource, even considering the large amount of trivial commenting that also gets saved. The ones on Surfnet have always been of special interest to plant lovers. Now, as of January first, 2011, they will leave Surfnet. Fortunately, Eric Gouda has found an alternative home for the lists he co-owns: They will be moving to a Mailman list server (at the University of Utrecht, I think).
I've been using e-mail for about 30 years. It is my main medium for communications. I'm not nearly as comfortable using Web-based forums. I have a Facebook account (as ShieldsGardens), but rarely look at Facebook, nor do I often post anything on my Facebook page. The things people post there are almost entirely trivial stuff and seem largely a waste of time. This may make me a dinosaur, or maybe just a snob....
The Web-based forums, in which the user has to actively seek out the web site, are becoming increasingly popular. The North American Rock Garden Society web site (for members only, at the present time) and the Scottish Rock Garden Club web site (open to all, registration required) are good examples of this format
The Yahoo Groups provide a mailing list option that is used by some plant groups. The Clivia Enthusists group is open to all. The I.B.S. Members group is solely for members of the International Bulb Society. There are other Yahoo groups for Hippeastrum species, for Haemanthus and Scadoxus lovers, for Crinums, etc.
The gold standard for bulbophiles, for everyone strongly interested in geophytes, remains the Pacific Bulb Society's online list, which is hosted on IBiblio. It is open to all, but only dues-paid members of the Pacific Bulb Society are eligible for the seed and bulb distributions. Nothing else comes close to this list for anyone seriously interested in bulbs.
I think that e-mail will remain the best medium for serious communication. Certainly for private communication it excels. For getting your message delivered to your target, rather than relying on him/her to search out a particular web site, e-mail lists are the only way to go.
Good gardening, from here in central Indiana
Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology