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Auter University of West Florida Abstract. A computer bulletin board service BBS operated by The Evansville Courier a Scripps-Howard newspaper in was field-tested on a convenience sample of people with regular access to computers and modems in the small, mid-western city of Evansville, IN.

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Today, it has become very hard to distinguish between online newspapers, papers with an online presence, community bulletin boards, information portals, and other Web based services. One trend at the local level that began in the early s was for one or more of a community's news media outlets to repackage their existing material, enhance it with additional information and offer it via computer bulletin boards.

According to Macaraeg, "bulletin board systems BBS were an excellent, economical alternative to large on-line information systems Of the over 53, computer bulletin boards in North American in the earlys, only 5 percent made a profit and only 15 percent broke even Baig, The goals of many newspapers attempting to go online were to capture the young reading audience, make a profit off the venture, and determine the best way to maintain an online presence as the hardware and software options changed at a rapid pace.

This was a challenge in the s, and it remains difficult today.

Local media outlets still are faced with this dilemma. Most realized then that in the near future, their markets would be able to support a regional bulletin board service. Today, these services not only compete with each other and traditional media, but also in the global information glut that comprises part of the World Wide Web. Not only are the local media outlets faced with this dilemma, but the colleges and universities that provide the employees for these media are likewise challenged.

As bulletin board services evolve into online newspapers and play a larger role in news distribution, traditional journalists and media corporations will have to be knowledgeable enough in this emerging medium in order to compete effectively. Adopters of online newspapers and bulletin board services. Individuals who traveled the electronic highway in the late s and mid s were primarily "technological innovators" who would quickly become bored with local movie listings and "flame wars" with local editorial columnists.

Actual adopters in the mid s represented a small portion of people interested in computers and technology. New York-based Newsday performed a telephone caller survey on their service, Newsday On-line which had been in existence since in Garvey, personal telephone conversation and FAX. Over the years, various services have met with different responses.

Although the service was used heavily, most of the use stemmed from a small segment of the registered individuals Schmitz et al. A survey found that PEN registrants were typically managers and professionals with household incomes higher than the regional average. Two thirds of the respondents were between 30 and They were found to be more often male than the city population, were more educated than their peers, and were more interested and active in politics than the average Santa Monica resident Schmitz et al.

Dutton reviewed trials of various new media technologies in the s and mid s and came to a of conclusions about how they are adopted and the makeup of their users. The public is less interested in technology that allows for modest improvements in existing services.

However, because new technologies change the way things are done, even ificant improvements may take some time to gain acceptance with a larger of users. The public is generally more chah in using new technology for communication than for information gathering. Today this is not so much the case. As the Web has become more interwoven, and technology has become more powerful and user-friendlier, more and more people are going online. But, the environment is still tough for newspaper sponsored services because now that have to compete with thousands more online services.

Contradicting some industry assumptions about audience interests, participants spent approximately most of their viewing time on screens composed mostly of text and few graphics and they rarely accessed archived material. At the time, PCs and online access were the stuff of early adopters and although the World Wide Numberrs existed, it was mostly text-only and access was mostly limited to government and academic organizations.

This study examined the demographics of potential users of a newspaper-affiliated community Fred in the mids, how often they utilized the service, and what features of such a service they preferred. In exchange for providing them much-needed user analysis, they agreed to allow additional items to be added to the study and for the analysis to be presented in a non-proprietary fashion in the academic literature. The service provided text-based national and local news and information, games, electronic mail with other service users onlya photo file, discussion groups, and classified.

No "display" advertising existed on the board during the test phase.

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It was anticipated, based on prior research in uses and gratifications, that users would fulfill a variety of needs, including information gathering and social interaction. This was raised to 12 high-speed modems toward the end of the test phase.

Macintosh users did not have a similar program available to them. The research strategy was to obtain as many participants as possible via advertising and thus subjects were self-selected. The sample was obtained by promoting the Evansville Courier test at several local sites online chhat in the city newspaper. Within the first four days of the study, over different people had logged on, completed the opening survey, and spent some time on the bulletin board.

By the end of the study, more than people had completed the initial online survey and had used the service at least once. Measures The measures for this study consisted of a mixture of quantitative, computer system-captured, and qualitative data. Data were deed to consist of a mandatory quantitative, opening survey, chta statistics generated during board usenukbers a voluntary qualitative "closing survey" that was to be filled out just before a subject logged off for good.

There was also a substantial subject mortality in regard to the closing survey, only slightly more than participants completing the closing survey. The self-selected nature of the sample, and especially of the closing survey, should be considered when interpreting the present study. The opening evandville. The opening survey provided basic information about the people who participated in our study and their computer usage.

It contained basic demographics, computer ownership and use, modem and BBS usage, and computer software usage. Computer system-generated usage data. The Courier On-Line bulletin board service test ran "non-stop" for four weeks except for routine maintenance and the occasional system shutdown.

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The longest crash was eight hours. One change that affected usage data was an increase in the modem pool. At the beginning of the study, seven modems were available gree dial-up access to Courier On-Line. Due to the great influx of calls, the pool was increased to 12 lines after two weeks. In assessing usage data, it seems safe to suggest that a strong interest in the service early-on was tempered by the trouble some people had dialing in. The seven lines were nearly always busy, resulting in a drop off of new users.

However, after the additional five lines were installed, usage increased. The closing survey.

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Closing surveys were intended to be filled out just before a evnasville logged off the service for the last time. Thus, they were voluntary. Throughout the fourth week, completion cyat the survey became mandatory in order to reenter the board which continued to operate after the numberrs test had ended. Once someone finished the closing survey, they were officially "out of the test" and additional usage statistics were not tabulated.

The closing survey contained both a quantitative and qualitative measures of what people liked and did not like about Courier On-Line. More than of the participants volunteered their feelings about Courier On-Line and its various services evahsville answering the final survey during the end of the fourth week of the test.

Respondents discussed their general opinions of the service and their favorite BBS features. Not everyone discussed each individual service, but each person made at least one comment. The of the opening survey, computer system-generated usage data, and closing survey paint a picture of the adopters of Courier On-line, their usage habits, and the perceived gratifications users obtained from the service.

User Demographics Demographic data came from the opening survey. They were also a relatively well-educated group.

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Sixty-five percent of the households contained at least two adults; about half of all households included children. Prior computer ownership and use. Usage of Courier On-line.

A total of different people used the Courier On-line BBS for a total of hours during the four-week test period. While on the board, users spent most of their time conversing with other users. Ease of use of Courier On-line. One of the most important characteristics of the viability of computer-mediated communication is its ease of use. The closing survey asked respondents to categorize COL as very easy, easy, neutral, hard, or very hard. Gratifications Obtained from the Service Overall experience.

The closing survey, which was predominantly qualitative in nature, assessed user satisfaction with the Courier On-line BBS. Most of them found the experience very gratifying. The more technology is available to allow ordinary people, unblessed with the power to control magazine or broadcast content, the opportunity to be heard and understood by their peer citizens, the better. Respondents were asked to rate the entire service in one of five : very useful, useful, no opinion, useless, very useless.

It is interesting that nearly all respondents found the service entertaining, but they were split on their perception of usefulness. Gratifications obtained from individual services.

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The COL BBS offered a wide variety of services: chat,games, newspaper story archives, movie and restaurant reviews, sports, opinion editorial commentand careers job listings. Although each participant did not comment on every service, some user feedback was obtained on every category. Qualitative comments were tabulated and coded as either positive or negative.

It is interesting to note that user perceptions of utility do not appear to correlate very highly with actual numbeds. The most notable example was electronic mail.

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Another area that engendered some controversy was the on-line games section. Again, nobody said that they just did not enjoy it, rather some persons questioned its place on this BBS. Still, readers should know that participants utilized the games service only three percent of the time. Perceptions of archived information and story sections varied.

Seventy-nine percent of responses about the archival information were positive, and those that were negative dealt with ease of use for this information. Although the test electronic bulletin board did not run advertising, respondents were asked their feelings about on such a Evansille. This is not surprising giving the strong anti-commercialization sentiment of evansivlle adopters in the mid s. Discussion The of quantitative and qualitative evansvulle data gathered in this study offer many insights about the persons who chose to utilize the Courier On-line bulletin board service in COL users tended to be more educated, have a higher income, and be early adopters of computer technology.

This is consistent with the findings of other studies of computer-mediated communication users in the late s and mid s e. Six years later, this is nymbers the case. The vast majority of time spent on Courier On-line was not in utilizing the news-oriented services, but in the chat rooms. But as times have changed, so has the newspaper-sponsored bulletin board. Very interestingly, despite ease of use concerns, respondents generally liked the experience of participating in a local community newspaper sponsored BBS.

Perhaps the sense of participating in a cutting-edge local frfe helped increase this effect. Evwnsville did not replace face-to-face group interactions, but rather created group interactions under circumstances when the participants would normally not be able to go out and socialize. Participants were ecansville interested in using the Courier On-line service for information gathering. Like most online adopters of the era, COL adopters were adamantly against commercialization of the service.

Although it was in fact becoming more and more of an entertainment medium. Attempts to post advertisements to listservs and discussion groups were, at first, violently opposed by almost all users. reported in this study paint a picture of a technology and an industry in transition.

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This survey of its users describes the uses and gratifications of individuals during this numberz of transition between an intensely individualistic pre-WWW and the commercial Internet of today. Interestingly, many of their wants and expectations of these services are not dissimilar to current online users.

Of course there is no longer the expectation of online service without commercial sponsorship. Additional personnel evansvville need to be hired in order to evansfille the burgeoning of tasks involved in running a BBS. The project had multiple methods, a realistic setting, evanxville sample sizes, and system-gathered data. Also, there was a large decrease in the of respondents from cree survey to the closing survey. This study of adopters of Courier On-line presents a clear picture of one group of online newspaper BBS adopters from the mid s.

The are largely consistent with those of similar studies of the era and they strongly support the view that BBS adopters in the mid s were active users with clearly defined expectations of what gratifications would be satisfied. Thus the Evansville study confirms many of the postulated characteristics of mid online local communities. They were composed of persons who strongly sought interactive electronic interaction, were highly specialized in their interests, shunned commercialism of the Net, and were generally representative of a much larger user-base that would develop in the coming years.

References Baig, E. So you evansfille to be chairman of the bulletin board? Business Week, p. The handlebars should be firmly in place and turn easily; the wheels should be straight and secured. You should always check all parts of your bicycle after a fall or after transporting it. Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Stop It Check your brakes before riding. Lock It!! Protect your bicycle from theft.

A bicycle can be stolen from just about any place at any time.

But simple precautions can deter would-be bike thieves. One thing that most stolen bikes have in common is njmbers they were not secured by a lock to a fixed object. Always lock your bicycle securely, whether you're gone for a few minutes or a few hours. Use a U-lock, securing both wheels and the frame to a stationary object such as a post, fence, tree, or bike rack.

For extra security, add a chain or cable with a good padlock. Record the serial of your bicycle and keep it with the sales receipt and a photograph of the bike. Mark your bicycle with an engraver to deter thieves and to help the police in identifying and returning a stolen bike to the rightful owner. Use a unique such as your social security or driver's. Back to Top Bus Stop Safety One of the most critical times of day involving the rfee of our children is getting on and off the school bus.

According to the Evansviole Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 33 school-age children die in school bus-related accidents each year. Most of these are pedestrians who are hit at the bus stop by a passing car or the bus itself. Not only do parents and children need to be cautious of fdee this is a key time for predators to target children as well. Indecent exposures and suspicious adult runs are becoming more common. The Evansville Police Department has a few tips to keep our children safe from the time numbrs leave for the bus stop until they arrive home safely at the end of the school day.

Children should wait for the bus off the road. Children should start for the bus after it stops completely and the stop arm comes out. Children should use the handrail to enter the bus and take one step at a time. Children should cross in front of a bus, far enough out so the driver can see them. Teach children to never trust that traffic is going to stop for them when getting on and off the bus.

Have them make sure the traffic has stopped before crossing the street. Teach children that the bus stop is not a place to play or roughhouse. Teach your children to stay away from any vehicles or adults that approach them. Children should report any inappropriate or suspicious activity by an adult immediately.

Call if children report such an incident. If possible, an adult guardian should accompany children until they get on the bus or after they get off the bus. By educating our children on bus stop safety, we can help them avoid becoming another statistic. Parents and children can both play a role to keep the bus stop a safe place for children to start and end evansvillw school day. Your driving behavior should change as well so you can avoid being in or causing a traffic accident.

Here are a few tips that should get you through the winter driving season safely. Make sure your tires are in good shape with plenty of tread, the air pressure is at the proper level and are rotated regularly. Check the battery. Check the antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Keep a small emergency kit in your vehicle with some of the following essentials: Flashlight, first aid kit, evanwville scraper, a small tool set and some sort of salt or cat litter WHILE ON THE ROAD If driving on wvansville or snow covered ro, decrease your speed as your stopping time decreases tremendously Do not follow as closely as normal to give yourself more reaction time if cars in front of you stop or go out of control Brake gently to avoid skidding.

If your wheels lock up, ease off the brakes Turn on your lights to be more visible to other motorists Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled ro as they will freeze first. Even four wheel drive vehicles can have trouble on icy and snow covered ro. If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels.

Turn your wheels side to side as this will clear the snow away from your tires. Use a light touch on your gas to ease your car out. If you are still stuck use a shovel to clear the snow away from your tires and under your car. Pour sand, salt, gravel or cat litter in the path of the wheels to attempt to get traction. Keep emergency s on your cell phone in case you are stranded without help in remote areas such as interstate highways. Remember that rainy conditions are just as dangerous as ice and snow.

Drivers should adjust for longer stopping distances in the rain also. Be alert in hazardous conditions and adjust your driving behaviors accordingly. These simple tips should help you have a safe winter driving season. Back to Top Halloween Safety Tips Halloween can be an enjoyable holiday for children and parents alike. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous time filled with accidents and criminal acts.

The following safety tips can help to insure that you and your family have a safe and happy Halloween. Before Halloween Make sure that costumes and wigs are flame resistant. Choose light or brightly colored costumes making them more visible. Consider costumes that do not require masks, using non-toxic make-up instead. Be sure that shoes are comfortable and fit properly. Have each child carry a flashlight with fresh frre to use after it gets dark. Discuss proper and appropriate behavior that you expect from your child before leaving the house.

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