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About us and Global Scoutnet Organization

March, 25th 1998:

Lately, there has been some confusion between Global Scoutnet and GSO.

Unfortunately, it's easy to get confused. For this reason, I'll try and clarify the situation.

In the '80es, the only telecomms technology available to anyone who owned a modem, outside the academic world, was that of Bulletin Board Systems; in short, BBS. A BBS is an amateur telecommunication system, operated by an hobbyst who leaves his PC switched on 24 hours a day, linked to a phone line used only by his modem. Whoever calls can use its file areas to download or upload software, documents or pictures, and can also take part in the message areas, to read and write. Usually, there is no need to pay for a subscription, no contract is signed, sometimes the operator might ask for a small fee to cover his expenses. Moreover, there is usually a strong community. In the second half of the '80es, BBS start to link into "networks"; a group of BBS which share their message areas, allowing people in different towns (or countries!) to engage in discussions in the same message area, devoted to a specific topic. At the start of the '90es, there were many such networks aimed at scouting. A network called "Scoutnet" was born in Italy, another network by the same name was born between Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands, while in North America they had "Stay in Scouting Network", and so on. WOSM (the European region in particular) started to guess the inherent possibilites of the medium, and for this reason in December 1994 it organized a seminar in Courriere, Belgium, titled "Building the Global Village - new strategies for multi-cultural learning". I took part in the seminar (on behalf of AGESCI and of Scoutnet, Italy), and I had the chance to meet many important figures of "electronic" scouting.

I met Danny Schwendener, who had managed to open the first ever newsgroup about scouting (rec.scouting) and maintained the related FAQs. I met Lars Olleschik, who operates the scouting-europe mailing list. I also met Daniel Saxer (from Switzerland), and other people from the "other" Scoutnet (well, we weren't really original in our choice of names...). The seminar was directed by Ray Saunders, Communications Executive of the Euroean Region of WOSM. Key people from WOSM, such as Dominique Benard (Director of European Region of WOSM) and Mark Clayton (WOSM Director for Public Relations and Communication) took part, too.

If you want to know more about that seminar, request the file GLOBVILL.ZIP (23K) from any italian BBS belonging to Scoutnet; you can also find it at ftp.scoutnet.org/Scoutnet/Scoutnet_Internazionale/ part of the file is in italian (my report, for instance), but most of it is in english.

One of the most important results of that seminar was the decision to merge all these networks into a single one; after an intense brainstorming session, we decided to call it "Global Scoutnet". Some time later, the north american network joined us, too.

The first "Global Coordinator" was Andrea Baitelli. His short mandate only involved organizing the first democratic elections for the Global Scoutnet Coordinator. In the meanwhile, he also registered an Internet Domain for Global Scoutnet, that is scoutnet.org. In September 1995, Daniel Saxer was elected Global Coordinator.

It would be false to claim that the relationship with Daniel was always an easy one.

Andrea and me, on one side, and Daniel Saxer and the founders of the other network, on the other side, had quite different opinions on the management of the network, in particular about democracy. Anyway, at some time Daniel Saxer decided to register another domain (scout.net), which he could manage without the need for any approval from the Country Coordinators Council, the governing body of Global Scoutnet. Andrea Baitelli, on the other hand, would have allowed scoutnet.org to be used only according to the will of the CCC. Moreover, he started to relinquish almost totally the management of Global Scoutnet, for the BBS side, concentrating only on www.scout.net. He didn't produce a "nodelist", a key file in the management of a BBS network, for more than a year! On the contrary, here in Italy integration between BBS technology and the Internet was proving to be a winner concept. A similar process was happening in Germany. It is not a coincidence that while Scoutnet thrived in these two countries, it declined in others like Switzerland.

In June 1997, Daniel Saxer proposed a radical change in the structure of Global Scoutnet, which he wanted to rename "Global Scoutnet Organization". The new "organization" would be totally controlled by the Global Coordinator, who would also have had the power to select his own electors! Moreover, this new organization had a great number of rules about "finances" (while Global Scoutnet had always been working without the need for any treasury), and its founding was to happen at an obscure meeting, which hadn't been adequately publicized (maybe on purpose?).

Obviously, almost all Country Coordinators voted against this proposal; moreover, I think that other swiss members of Scoutnet didn't agree with Daniel Saxer's proposal (they hadn't been consulted) and they later removed him from his Country Coordinator position. Despite them, Daniel Saxer went on, and founded his own organization, which he publicised with the name of "GSO". Anyway, this was the last straw. The Global Scoutnet Country Coordinators Council declared Daniel Saxer removed from his post of "global coordinator" (anyway, Daniel Saxer should have started an election for his post in September 1996, a year earlier!), and started a new election for a new Global Coordinator. Since in the meanwhile I had managed to reestablish many of the international links in the network which had been lost due to Daniel Saxer's mismanagement, I was elected Global Coordinator on December 1997.

Presently, Global Scoutnet is the only dual-technology scout computer network, since we use both Internet and a BBS network; this means we have the highest potential audience. We currently offer conferences which can be accessed either as mailing lists or as newsgroups (via Internet) or as Echomail (from the many BBS in the network). We operate a gateway which provides free Email access even to BBS users who aren't on the Internet. Moreover, our file areas are accessible both on bulletin board systems and on the Internet.

I must stress that we currently have NO relationship at all with "GSO". From a practical point of view, this means that anything related to the scout.net domain is GSO stuff, and has nothing to do with Global Scoutnet, as founded in 1994. For this reason, please don't send to me (or to any Global Scoutnet coordinator) any requests about email addresses @scout.net or third level domains under scout.net. Please address such requests to Daniel Saxer himself. The only internet domain used by Global Scoutnet is scoutnet.org

I don't know if Daniel Saxer is still a member of any scout association. However, the Swiss scout association asked us to avoid all links to the scout.ch and pfadi.ch domains, as long as they are managed by him. Later, these domains were re-appropriated by Global Scoutnet Switzerland, of which he is no longer a member. Moreover, he mis-appropriated for some time the wosm.org and wagggs.org domains. For these reasons, we no longer wish to be associated or confused with Mr. Daniel Saxer or his organization. The correct name of our network is "Global Scoutnet", without any other qualifier such as "organization". Our founder Baden-Powell once said: "At first I had an Idea. Then I saw an Ideal. Now we have a Movement, and if some of you aren't careful we'll end up with just an organization".

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