Special Digest

Dear Friends,

We want to share some good news with you today.  Although we normally try
to stay "behind the scenes" on this list, we thought that several of these
items warranted special mention.

First, Friends and Partners was recently chosen by folks involved in the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission to be demonstrated at an upcoming meeting
between U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin. Friends and Partners is to be shown as an example of how the
Internet can be used to foster cooperation and exchange between people in
our countries.  This is a tribute to everyone who has contributed to making
Friends and Partners an active information and communications resource and
should provide us with good opportunity to show helpful uses of the
Internet to our nation's leaders.  The event will be held within the next 3
months (in December or January) - we will provide more information as it is
made available to us.

Second, we have just received a grant from the US State Department to help
Friends and Partners - the majority of which will be used to establish and
fund (for one year) the "Friends and Partners Support Center" in Pushchino,
Russia which Natasha will direct.  The new center will employ four
individuals, two of whom will work full-time on Friends and Partners and
two half-time.  The first task of this new center will be to finish some
information services which are to be demonstrated at the upcoming
Gore-Chernomyrdin meeting.

Third, some of you may remember that we received a grant from the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) last year to improve the network
infrastructure between Pushchino and the larger Internet.  We are glad to
report that the new infrastructure (a 64K digital connection) is now in
place and is already greatly assisting this effort.  It is now possible for
us to keep the two principal F&P sites (in Knoxville and Pushchino)
synchronized with each other.  And, of course, network access to and from
Pushchino (and for the entire Pushchino scientific community) is now
greatly improved.

Finally, the University of Tennessee has just established the new Center
for International Networking Initiatives.  Greg left his current position
at the University of Tennessee last Friday to direct this new center which
will initially employ Angie Croft, Sasha Ovchinnikov and Anita Colliatie.
As many of you know, F&P began entirely as a hobby initiative.  As it has
grown, we have simply run out of "nights and weekends" sufficient to do an
adequate job with it.  But we will now be able to devote full time and
effort from our "real" jobs to Friends and Partners and are very excited
about what this will make possible.  (at the very least, we hope we will do
a much better job in responding to email and phone calls!)

The only sad news for us is that in establishing the new Center, we must
leave so many of our friends in Research Services who have volunteered much
of their time, energy and talents in helping establish Friends and
Partners.  We wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Anita,  Angie,
Carol, David, Ellee, Janet, John, Mur, Sasha and Tammy for all they have
done during these past two years.  A special thanks goes to Ellee Margileth
for her always excellent work in preparing the digests and for her help in
making sure that the information on F&P was as clean, attractive and
up-to-date as possible.

Clearly, we are entering a new phase for this project.  We (Natasha and
Greg) are currently working together in Pushchino for the next 3 weeks to
establish the new Support Center and to work on a new organization and
design for F&P.  Although we have many ideas for furthering its primary
aims (of using the Internet as a means of promoting collaboration and
partnership between individuals and institutions in our countries), we
recogize that Friends and Partners is, first and foremost, a community of
like-minded people who wish to share with, learn from, and work with each
other. This, perhaps more than anything else, distinguishes it from many
other Internet services.  Our main objective now is to do a better job of
"growing" and supporting this community.

As we begin this new phase, we would so like to hear from you - your
comments and suggestions; areas in which we can improve; new services that
you would like to see (or, better, provide!).  We are especially hopeful
that we can work together with many of you over the next 2-3 months to
ensure that when we soon have opportunity to talk with our countrys'
leaders about the possibilities of utilizing network and information
technology to promote partnership and community, that the story told is a
good one and has maximum impact and effect.

Of course, we are already working with many of you who are providing
information and communications services via Friends and Partners.  For some
time we have been meaning to establish a "sister" listserver to "Friends"
for use by everyone contributing to Friends and Partners - and with which
we can all assist each other - with technical questions and support, with
ideas about how to organize and present information, etc.  We have just now
finished installing on both servers (in Pushchino and in Knoxville) this
new listserver called "partners" which can be used for these purposes.
This will not be a digested list and thus will be a bit "noisier" than the
'friends' list.

To subscribe to "partners", please send a one-line email message to
listproc@solar.rtd.utk.edu consisting of

Subscribe Partners firstname lastname

and just substitute your first and last names for "firstname lastname".

We hope that we can all use this new facility as a means of sharing
information and helping each other with technical questions and information
organization issues.

Although many things have changed and grown since F&P was announced on
January 19, 1994, our principal hope and goal is the same as that included
in that first announcement:

    . . . that it will, at least in some small way, promote better
   understanding between our nations by providing instruction on our
   people and our cultures, by providing a common base of information
   about issues affecting relations between our countries, and by
   providing a common 'meeting place' where folks can find and
   communicate with each other."

We look forward to our continued work together!

- Natasha and Greg