Tenth Anniversary Papers — Afterword

Ben Chi

The articles you've just read in this Festschrift or commemorative volume range from brief appreciations of the existence and rôle of PIPORG-L to thoughtful pieces on approaches to performance, on the future of the instrument in today's society, the dilemmas that accompany a restoration project, and other topics typifying the substance of our online discussions over the years.

At the time that I set up the PIPORG-L mailing list on the University at Albany listserver it never occurred to me that ten years later it would still be in operation, not to mention the presence it has assumed in the world of pipe-organ construction and performance. (The Chronicle of Higher Education some years ago cited PIPORG-L as the authoritative list for the pipe-organ community.) Our numbers fluctuate around 1500 subscribers, about 20% of whom are in countries other than the U.S., some 33 countries in all.

This would be a good point to thank the University for hosting the list and its archives all these years. Professionally-managed hardware and a professionally-maintained industrial-strength list server have made all the difference.

The durability of the list attests to the need it fulfills, namely a rapid and free exchange of information, possible only through use of the Internet. As such it supplements and extends the print medium, both in its immediacy and in its searchability.

But need and ease of use by themselves don't insure acceptance and longevity. The additional essential ingredient has been the willingness of list members to confine the topics of their postings to ones relevant to pipe organs. Subscribers, on the whole, have been very good on this point, though we have instituted some list management mechanics to help this goal along. Dave Kelzenberg and I strive to maintain a balance between too much control and topical anarchy and we believe that we've found a middle ground that suits most subscribers.

I've avoided including email addresses for the Festschrift contributors as one small step in the war on spam, research having shown that spammers harvest their victims' addresses mostly from public web pages. If you want to write to one of the contributors, Dave Schutt, say, send mail to listserv@listserv.albany.edu saying SCAN PIPORG-L SCHUTT. You'll get Dave's address by return mail.

So two hips and a hooray for another ten years. As long as the list responds to your needs, it will be there for you.


About the author: Ben Chi was a co-founder of PIPORG-L. Years ago he both played the organ and worked for an organbuilder. Most of his professional life has been at The University at Albany as a theoretical physicist, professor, and computing center administrator. He is now with NYSERNet, a company that builds and operates very-high-speed networks for the higher-education and research community in New York State. He lives near Albany, New York.