TITLE: Federal Communications Commission Gopher

ACCESS: gopher://gopher.fcc.gov
http://www.fcc.gov
ftp//ftp.fcc.gov

The FCC gopher could be very useful to anyone involved with communications, especially those who have to keep up with its latest regulations. It houses much valuable information, but using it is a daunting experience without knowledge of the FCC's general structure.

The main gopher menu includes 31 different categories. What it desperately needs is a README file. Files ending in .wp (Wordperfect readable) fill ones screen with computer language and compressed files (.zip) have to be "unzipped". Universally available WAIS searching is never explained and thus is rendered virtually useless.

Only via the FCC FTP site README file was I able to decipher bureau codes used in various submenus. According to an FCC official the site came up in February, 1994, is still under construction and will be upgraded as soon as possible. I encountered some problems connecting to the site although I received a swift return telephone call from someone at the FCC and via e-mail from cjboyer@uci.edu (whose address I found at the FCC FTP site). The somewhat helpful subdirectory "index.txt" unfortunately moved from near the beginning to near the end of the submenus on subsequent visits.

The Daily Common Carrier items are very current, arranged in reverse chronological order and go back through 1994. After wading through too many subdirectories one finds valuable information such as tariff transmittal schedules, public notices, news releases, FCC studies, with complete texts or ordering information, and notices and requests for comments on proposed rule making. The Daily Digest section is less well organized with the dates inexplicably mixed up and a lot of material repeated from elsewhere. The Daily Business/Cable subdirectory had an enormous 618 entries.

Other useful subdirectories included News Releases, Events, Panel Discussion, Speeches, and Forms. Less useful were Phone Books (zipped), GN-Docs (a very technical WAIS set-up guide) and Informal. International and Fees were repeatedly inaccessible. Unfortunately spelling mistakes abound throughout and too much information is repeated.

The FCC gopher has valuable, current information but it needs to be more clearly and simply organized to make it easier for the public and librarians to use.

Elaine Hoffman
Assistant Librarian, Government Documents/Reference Dept.
Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library
SUNY Stony Brook
EHOFFMAN@CCMAIL.SUNYSB.EDU
March 9, 1995


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