Alternative Technologies for Information Networks.
A discussion of the economic considerations inherent in designing user services that incorporate various communication systems. Three such services for the biomedical community are described: (1) land-circuit television networks such as ETV; (2) telephone access via INWATS to a library of recorded messages; and (3) a single center responsible for the dissemination of copies of one million documents a year utilizing a general purpose computer, microfiche devices and either U.S. mail or facsimile transmission. Because of the complex character of library operations, particular user needs must be determined before designing a system. Effective support of information systems is now available in large scale digital storage, laser recording, erasable holographic memories and rapidly developing communications hardware. Unfortunately, much of the implementing software has been unsuccessful. Future success may lie in abandoning attempted solution of general problems and concentrating on specific areas. 8 pp.