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Archive for Sunday, July 4, 1999

CHECK OUT THE WILD THINGS WITH A VISIT TO THIS KU ZOO

July 4, 1999

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A Kansas University organization is linking students through their computers.

If you like computers more than wild animals, this is the zoo for you.

The Kansas University Campus Internet Assn. is a student organization featuring a home page with links to the personal web pages of about 200 KU students. This part of the club's page is known as "The Zoo."

Nobody quite knows why it's called The Zoo, but the page is a helpful way to find the web pages and e-mail addresses of some students.

"We link quite a few people's pages," said Melissa Kelley, KU senior and current treasurer for KUCIA. "It's helpful for people who are trying to find friends."

It's located at www.cc.ukans.edu/cwis/organizations/kucia/index.html.

"We get a lot of additions to The Zoo, maybe two or three a week," said Hafid Saba, KU senior and KUCIA vice president.

In addition to providing a way for students to find one another, KUCIA is also a club focusing on teaching the ways of the information superhighway to other KU students.

"The idea was to develop a student organization that would help other students learn to use the Internet because I knew we didn't have the staff at the computer center to deal with so many students," said Michael Grobe, KU assistant director of academic computing services and faculty adviser to KUCIA. "I think, in general, we have made available the best training in about a four-state region for Internet use."

The organization focuses on helping other KU-related pages.

"The main goal is more of creating a community between web masters across campus," Saba said. "Those who are interested in learning more, we'd love to help them out."

Grobe points to KUCIA's early use of Links -- a text-based browser now commonly used by people with non-graphical computers -- as evidence of the organization's success.

"We developed very good training classes. And they were free from the beginning."

The beginning was 1994, when KUCIA was put together. The group lasted about a year before being abandoned because of time considerations.

Then in late 1995, KU students Wade Jones and David Veatch attended an HTML seminar taught by Grobe. They got to talking, and Grobe told the two about the failed project.

"Michael mentioned the defunct status of KUCIA as both a regrettable and correctable situation," Veatch wrote in an e-mail. "Not needing a second hint, we jumped at the opportunity and within a week the new KUCIA was reborn."

From that point, the page and club have grown. When Jones and Veatch took over, there were about 30 personal pages linked on the page, many of which were defective.

Now, the web site's hits are boosted by a link from KU's homepage, and the club holds regular meetings.

"I like getting together for the meetings," Kelley said. "I like picking a topic and helping KU students know a little more about the Internet."

The site has grown both because of an increased KUCIA roster, and the members' familiarity with the Internet.

"It was a hobby initially," said Saba, who will graduate in December and runs his own consulting business.

"But now, some of us are contracted out to make a web site for somebody. We get a big kick out of that. It's fun to go in and make a page more interactive, more pleasing to its audience."

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