|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Cooking up a Storm in Cyberspace
IVU News - Issue 3 - 1998
It has been a momentous year for IVU on the Internet. We progressed from using the net as an optional extra to its becoming an integral part of IVU’s operations, and it is allowing us to do things that have never been possible before. There have been several major developments in recent months.
Unity is Strength
I wrote in the summer 1997 issue of IVU News about our new domain - ivu.org - and invited member organisations to join us by using this to host their own pages. Eighteen groups have now taken up the offer.
The Malaysian Vegetarian Society, for example, is now at www.ivu.org/mvs and others have similar addresses, giving a real sense of identity for IVU members in cyberspace.
At present we can offer groups only one page each on ivu.org, unless they do their own 'html', in which case space is unlimited. All can have e-mail addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org to create an even greater sense of unity.
A curious anomaly of the IVU on the Internet is that some of the major vegetarian resources are not eligible for IVU membership because they are run not by organisations but by individuals with informal contributions from lots of other individuals and there is thus no IVU membership category to cater for them.
We have now created an Internet Partners scheme to allow us to work together with these resources and to show solidarity in relation to the rest of the world: back to building the on-line communities mentioned above. The idea is simply to swap logos with appropriate resources and put announcements on our pages about being partners. It’s as simply as that and it costs nothing at all, but it helps to maintain the IVU as a focal point for vegetarianism on the Internet.
One of the most significant benefits of this scheme is that the IVU website is now itself hosted by one of our Internet partners -- vegsource.com, a website run from the USA with a lot of input from some talented people. We are also developing some joint resources with VegSource, such as message boards which allow people to type their own information directly on to web pages.
In addition, we have direct support from an IVU member — the Vegetarian Resource Group, based in Baltimore — in providing us with a secure transaction facility which allows people to pay for IVU membership by simply typing their credit card details on to a web page.
One of the big successes of the last 12 months has been the IVU-Talk mailing list. An e-mail list allows any subscriber to send a message to one list address and it is then automatically sent on to everyone else on the list. Replies also go to everyone, which means that we can have multi-way discussions.
There are now more than 100 subscribers to IVU-Talk, all of them members, volunteers, contacts for member organisations, etc. Anyone who receives IVU News should be entitled to join IVU-Talk, so if you have an e-mail address let me know and I’ll add you to the list.
The effect of IVU-Talk has been to give all members who have access to e-mail the opportunity to keep in touch on a daily basis — something which would have been quite impossible in the past —and it is creating a real sense of community on a global scale for the first time in IVU’s 90-year history.
We also have an e-mail list called IVU-C specifically for IVU councillors and Regional Secretaries. This was set up by Kevin Pickard in Toronto and gives Councillors the opportunity to talk to each other more than just once a year. Both lists are run on the Envirolink computer in Pittsburg — another example of mutual support among veggie-friendly Internet people.
One particular use of IVU-talk was an attempt to put the European Congress at Bussolengo, Italy, on-line. There were a lot of problems due to lack of planning and very limited resources, but we did manage to get connected and allow people at the congress to talk to the rest of the world.
Those who were at the Johnstown World Congress in 1996 will have seen a different version of this in the Cybercafe there. The development of IVU Internet resources since then should create some great opportunities to combine all this in the future. The World Congress in Toronto 2000 will probably be the next major landmark — maybe even live video transmissions from the conference hall by then..?
Cooking up a Cyberstorm
The latest additions to the IVU website are a collection of all-vegan recipes and a section on famous vegetarians. The recipes are sent in by readers and are growing into a major resource. There has already been a huge response, with the recipes pages getting almost as many “hits” as the rest of the website combined. The plan is to have as many as possible translated into as many other languages as possible to produce the Internet’s first fully multi-lingual vegetarian cookbook.
The IVU is now firmly established as a vital part of the vegetarian Internet. The aim for the future is to make it the first place people think of when they are looking for information about vegetarianism on the Internet: there really is strength in unity, and we now have the opportunity to prove it.
Unity is Strength
Join the IVU and put your group on the Web
IVU can now give every affiliated society space on the World Wide Web. Make the ivu.org domain your home on the Internet. Just check that your subscription is up to date and contact John Davis, email@example.com or the Hon. General Secretary.
Provided that your message is in keeping with the aims of the IVU, John will put it on the Web for you.