By Tourang Birangi
It is very exciting to talk live to people from different universities in Iran. This is made possible by Soroush, the first Iranian Bulletin Board (BBS), created almost a year ago by Mahmoud Shahbodaghi in New York.
As you may have already experienced, the Internet is not fully implemented in Iran and the connections are less than desirable but with some patience, one can carry a decent conversation all the way to the other side of the world.
In fact, I have talked to some students at Sharif University in Tehran and we are trying to form a partnership through a new technical forum in Soroush where we can exchange ideas.
Soroush's objectives are ambitious and diverse. The main objective is to utilize the Internet to promote and to facilitate cultural activities among Iranians along with patrons of other national origins.
I joined Soroush about 8 months ago for the first time, mainly out of curiosity. In fact it was quite easy to connect to Soroush from a Unix machine or from any PC that has telnet facilities installed.
All I had to do was to type: telnet soroush.com. For windows users, there is also a windows version of Soroush which can be downloaded from the Web: ftp.soroush.com.
Once you are in Soroush, it doesn't take long to learn your way around. The menu options are pretty much self-explanatory. There is also a nice help feature where one can get help by typing a question mark (?) at any point in the system.
My first experiences in Soroush environment were of a mixed nature. The experience of chatting live with other Iranians on the Net for the first time was overwhelming. Yet, because of the fact that Soroush had very few members at that time, I got bored very quickly.
What is a BBS without any members, I thought. Needless to say, I did not join again until a few months later, on the suggestion of a friend. Much to my surprise, this time I found many more people who had joined Soroush in a matter of two months. Since then, Soroush has grown at least three folds and it is still growing very rapidly, with the last count of at least 600 members.
Pros and Cons
One can go to Soroush and start reading poetry ranging from Ganjavi, to Hafez, to Araqi, to Sepehri. The poetry forum is lively. There are new postings in this forum almost everyday. Sometimes there are discussions about poetry as well.
There is also a news forum, where you can get the latest news about Iran and the world as well as music, history, and freelance forum.
The negatives? Well, the negatives have nothing to do with Soroush itself but the weaknesses of our culture, which have a way of finding their way through the Internet and Soroush as well.
Many times misunderstandings are likely to happen. When chatting live with someone over the net, you cannot see facial expressions of the recipient of your messages. It is difficult to guess if a message was meant as a joke or not
There is a membership fee of either $7.00 a month or $30.00 for six months. However, the first month is free for new users. Although for some students this price might seem a bit steep, it is easily justifiable when you consider that the subscription fees for some magazines are comparable or higher.
See you online!