|Life is meant to be full of challenges, but sometimes, the
challenge can be more than one bargains for. The production of this issue
of the Bulletin is a case in point. I'm presently in southern Peru
in the Lake Titicaca basin working on early village sites. With the technological
advances that have recently reached Peru, Karen Doehner (my editorial assistant)
and I decided to live dangerously and attempt production of the Bulletin
from Peru, rather than find a temporary substitute to do our jobs in Santa
Barbara. We are placing great faith in the power of the Internet, Telefónica
de Peru (the national tele-phone company), and the abilities of overnight
services to make this happen.
Our home base is in Puno, and since our last stay here in 1997, more than eight Internet cafes and shops have sprung up. This is eight more than there were back then. Our favorite has 10 Windows 95 boxes, and there's not a Mac to be seen anywhere except in our lab (more on that later). We were well primed by colleagues that, despite a highly variable speed of access and a system prone to periodic collapse, the system generally was reliable and effective. Although we were prepared to face occasional power failures, we didn't factor them in as the more serious obstacle they really are.
Although we sometimes grit our teeth at the slow crawl of attachment downloads and response time, we have generally been pleased with the service. Our main problem has been ensuring that all messages have been received and acknowledged, and that nothing has slipped through the cracks. Since telnet connections to our server at UCSB can be excruciatingly slow, we've come to rely upon Web-based mail services. We're currently having our mail forwarded to a Yahoo account, which so far has been successful with attachments in a bewildering array of formats. We've also become familiar with old Unix and DOS-based programs like ftp. Depending on the time of day, a good ftp session can be blazingly fast.
There are some advantages to slow connections, however. Our Internet provider's shop is on the second floor overlooking Puno's pedestrian mall. We've had a good view of a number of traditional dances and parades while waiting for something to appear on screen. There is a bit of cultural dissonance between the late 20th century of our immediate surroundings and the 17th-century costumes and poses of the dancers below.
Despite our reliance upon the Internet, we still use fax extensively. Our faxes come to a central locale where phone and fax lines are shared. Those who fax us have the unique experience of having to bellow "fax" to the operator, who then switches lines. There is a cost as wellwe pay a bit more than 50 cents per page at our end to get a fax.
Our final production problem is one of our making. We produce the Bulletin on a Mac in Pagemaker®. At home in California, we routinely print copies of the Bulletin for proofreading and evaluation of the layout. Here, though, Mac-compatible printers are nonexistent, and work-around solutions, such as various kinds of adaptors to make our USB Power Mac "speak to" Latin American versions of popular printers, has proven infeasible. Our solution? Nathan Craig, one of my tenacious graduate students here with me, converted the Pagemaker files to a pdf (portable document file) version of the Bulletin that prints on any printer without needing the correct fonts loaded on the computer itself.
The challenge has been difficult, but rewarding. Producing the Bulletin in Peru has given us a new perspective on some of the real limitations of the Internet as a means of communication as well as a deeper insight into the problems faced by our Latin American colleagues as they find themselves more and more reliant upon a technology that is not easily affordable nor accessible to many. Although I remain a firm believer in the merits of the Internet for scholarly communication, especially for SAA, this experience has made me more sensitive to the calls that remind us that not all the world is yet a part of the "information age," and that we must take this into account as we develop our programs and plans.
Although we have overcome many of the logistical problems, our dependence on international mailing couriers has been the final blow in throwing Bulletin production and publication off its normal schedule. We apologize for the delay in circulation of this issue.
New Editor for American Antiquity
As of January 1, 2000, the editorship of American Antiquity moves to Timothy A. Kohler at Washington State University-Pullman. Manuscripts and correspondence may be directed to Timothy A. Kohler, Editor-Designate, American Antiquity, Department of Anthropology, Washington State University-Pullman, WA 99164-4910, tel: (509) 335-2770 (after Jan. 1), fax: (509) 335-3999, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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