by Darius Kazemi, October 29 2019
A user test
RFC-302 is titled “Exercising the ARPANET”. It's authored by Roland F. Bryan of the UCSB Computer Research Laboratory and dated February 8, 1972.
The technical content
A group of graduate students at UCSB performed a user test of the ARPANET and this RFC presents their results.
They gave access to the network to a group of people who are “
technically competent” but who know nothing about time-sharing, networking, or the ARPANET. They wanted to see what they would be able to do, and what problems arise.
The users were given a brief training and access to NIC documents and then allowed to log in to the system at UCSB. The users had a whole bunch of questions and comments. Some highlights:
- They say a user manual for the Network Control Program at each site would be helpful.
- How can you tell when you're truly logged out if the connection just fails?
How do we make contact with programmers at other sites to develop cooperative programs for file transfer, etc?“
- What are good times of day to connect to each site?
- They point out various bugs.
The users are particularly impressed with MIT and BBN, which provide better documentation than most sites and greatly eased their onboarding process.
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I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with ActivityPub, including a Node.js reference implementation, an RSS-to-ActivityPub converter, and a fork of Mastodon, called Hometown. You can support my work via my Patreon.