Illicit CD-ROMs

An Australian chemist friend of mine was giving a lecture recently on how Western chemists might best help their colleagues in the developing world gain access to the mountains of chemical information available without eating into their own budgets too much.

Various systems based around the Web were discussed but industrial delegates were surprisingly more than a little interested in one particular idea concerning CD-ROMs.

My chemist friend planned to set up a cheap subscription service for a monthly CD-ROM that would mirror chemistry sites on the web and so bring the net to those scientists in poverty-struck institutes with no access. When the queue for samples of the CD-ROM had stretched to the back of the lecture hall my friend asked the next person in line why they were so keen to see the CD-ROM. The startling reply was that their employer was so scared of staff wasting time on the web that all net access was blocked – a CD-ROM could be viewed illicitly without needing a net connection.

I wonder if they were hoping that there’d be filth and pirated software mirrored on the disc too.