Updated December 2011

HECs History and Forums

(Note: Please keep in mind that the webpage references are the original pages, preserved, dated back in the early 1990s - some of their inside links may be outdated)

Here you will find an overview with background information about myself and the experiences through the beginning of the Internet, about Forum lists and web presence, the Poseidon project, and all main historical events which were the building blocks for the creation of HEC.

I'm a Computer Sciences graduate. As a scientist, I look at facts and valid reference points. Therefore I have included several links, many of them dated back at least 20 years. I work in the computer sciences field since 1981 while a student at the U of MD. My career as a scientist started at Applied Physics Lab of John's Hopkins University working on the Trident class nuclear submarine research program, followed by development of flight simulators, and then at NASA on the "Next Generation" satellite communications research and development including Earth Observing System (EOS). I built and ran one of the first Hellenic websites "Hellas" since the beginning of the Internet and continued my volunteer work through HEC.

Being a NASA scientist, http://www.greece.org/hellas/thanos/ I had the privilege to use the Internet, while it was not publically available, except to major government research facilities and some universities http://www.greece.org/hellas/0.jpg/NASA-Science-Internet.jpg . The Hellas Forum list, which I was a member, started all the way back in 1989 when Internet was in its infancy. By 1991, the Hellas Forum list had about 500 members and statistics were indicating the Forum emails were read by thousands of people. I used the first CERN browsers and started working on websites. By mid 1994 my work on the Hellas website started and soon thereafter was officially hosted at a server in Stanford U. at a sub-domain of velox.stanford.edu. The original Hellas List site still exists since 1994, and it is preserved here: http://www.greece.org/hellas/ . When at the site, click the Hellas Story to read the text that was written years prior to meeting the other three people who all of us are the co-founders of HEC. You can also click on the links to see names and facts about the Forum http://www.greece.org/hellas/Hlist.html . As you see, Hellas List "is a forum for exchange of information about various subjects concerning Greece and Greeks at home or abroad. Please note that the Hellas List is not moderated or subject to censorship." Several other lists were running at the time, and I was in contact with their listmasters from Ariadne server at National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) to Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH) to Forthnet in Crete. In U of MD we also established the list "Apollon" http://www.greece.org/hellas/apollon.html . My work in early 1990s was visible through out the Hellenic Internet world. Thus...

When SAE was getting formed in 1995, the Greek government called upon a handful of experienced Internet people from around the world who were already involved in using the Internet for the benefit of Hellenism. Invitations for the all expenses paid multi-day conference were sent for the gathering of the first SAE Symposium in Thessaloniki to help Greece build SAE and unite Greeks over the Internet. Among the few who were called to give lectures and set up their Internet connectivity were:
Thanos Voudouris - a letter from The Greek government http://www.greece.org/hellas/awards/NASA-Letter.pdf was sent to NASA requesting permission and the time to attend, which was granted (the letter is self-explanatory of my qualifications),
Stratos Safioleas - a friend who was doing his PhD then at George Washington (GW) University and he was also running a Hellenic Site and a newsletter called "Diaspora",
Nikos George - another friend at Penn State University who was also managing the HELLAS Forum List.

The 1st SAE was named "O Ellhnismos ston Kybernoxwro" was held in 1995 http://www.greece.org/sae1995/images/sae-program.pdf . As you see in the program, Nikos George presented "Twn Ellhnwn Syzhthseis", Stratos Safioleas presented "H Diaspora sto Dyktio" and I presented and discussed: "H Ellhnikh Diaspora sto Internet - Problhmata kai Protaseis". The title of the Conference and my presentation "Hellenism in Internet - Problems and Recommendations" are very much relevant to the discussion about Forums and the history of HEC. My entire presentation was published in one full page of "ENHMEROSH" newspaper http://www.greece.org/hellas/awards/Enhmerwsh-s.jpg . Some of the pictures of the several members of the team have been preserved here http://www.greece.org/sae1995/ showing Labrini Thoma, Strato Safiolea, Niko George, Christo Kyriazh, Antoni Yannopoulo (HOL) and others who you may recognize. In one of the photos the then Yfypourgos Exwterikwn Grigorhs Nioths and I discussing the relevance of the Internet during the dinner he hosted for us.

My experience with Forums and the use of Internet uniting Diaspora goes all the way back to the birth of Internet. The Hellas Forum was set up at Penn State, Stanford and American U. By mid 90's the Hellas Forum had about 700 members, which all were PhD candidates, professors, University students and other Hellenes scientists like me working in research facilities and government campuses like NASA. Statistics showed that over 30,000 viewers were getting the feeds and reading our posts. The participation in that Hellas Forum was vibrant. I can say there was very high participation rate for a Forum probably somewhere over 50%. The moderators were only to keep the Forum running. There was no moderation or censorship on posts. Yes there were fights sometimes, and some people were put in "NoPost" for a few days, but overall, these were our best years being away from our country, but united in front of our computers around the world. Every couple of years Forum members will gather in one location and spend several days together in the same city, organizing events, and spending time together. It was customary for local people to host travelers so they did not have to pay for hotels. On November 1995, members of the Forum in Washington DC area (Stratos Safioleas, myself and others) organized a gathering, and Thanasis Episcopos and Evangelos Rigos stayed at my home for a few days. This was the first time all three friends we met in person. As one of the organizers, I had arranged for a tour at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland http://www.greece.org/hellas/0.TXT/new.txt . The gathering details http://www.greece.org/hellas/porky.html and an album of pictures are preserved here since 1995 http://www.greece.org/hellas/porky95/. The Hellas forum list was moderated in a sense of preventing spams, but all emails from members were posted.

Now, in addressing our Scholars Forum and in contrast to Hellas forum, our Scholars Forum has 5,474 bright minds, http://www.lsoft.com/scripts/wl.exe?SL1=HELLENIC-PROFESSORS-PHDS&H=HEC.GREECE.ORG only just a few participate (less than 1%) and the majority of the posts seem to be of a political nature. When Political discussions take place, we are walking a fine line for HEC being a cultural, non-political, non-profit organization and makes the moderators job almost impossible. All need to understand that the Moderators doing the best they can. The one or two moderators doing a commendable job, but they are facing an impossible task. In addition, there are no other volunteers for the moderators positions. Thus, makes it humanly impossible for the one or two moderators to read all the lenghty emails and treat them individually. Some complaints of censorship have occured, but all have to understand that these complaints have nothing to do with the moderators themselves. Any complaints should be addressed to Hec Directors and not to moderators. The HEC Directors in turn will bring the matters to Executive Council, which is the ultimate HEC authority and the sole responsible entity. The moderators bear NO responsibility for such actions. All should be thankful to the moderators volunteers. Lets ask our selves, why other volunteers do not come forward ro spend some of their time as moderators?

The statistics show extremely small participation of members posting. Why this very low turn out? We have to try to find an answer to what that means. Is this an indication that the subjects being discussed and how are being discussed turns people off from writing? Are people discouraged to go against the established norm? Is it the bashing of Greece and whoever governs? Is it because almost everything discussed has a negative tone? Yes Greece is going through tough times right now and that seem to drive most of the discussions, but there must be something positive and good out there to discuss. Maybe we need to be thinking in terms of: is it something we can actually do to help our country other than political involvement? These and many other questions have to be answered. Whatever the case might be, just imagine if we had only a 10% participation discussing many other subjects of substance, and we were actively working on projects like: Blue Skiestrying to build a Hellenic "Think Tank" or Economic Growth Proposal or other projects who have started but gone nowhere. There is definitely room for improvement.

One of the best proposals for the Forum so far is the one from professor Petros Groumpos, in which he outlines very clearly the Five Steps Approach to Success http://www.greece.org/blogs/scholars/?page_id=1061 . He highlights "The Forum should stay away from all kind of politics - it has never helped a generic Hellenic cause when politics start to interfere with our efforts". Having said that, in this case, there will be no need for the kind of moderation we are doing now, neither there will be accusations of censorship. I might add, that Prof. Groumpos has not written again since then, about ten months ago.

Question yourself, why professor Groumpos and others who post some positive ideas, do not come back to write and participate in discussions?

May be, one solution will be to establish a second Forum list for discussing non-partisan politics.

If the Forum is non-political in nature, the moderators' job then will be much easier. In this case, all the moderators have to do is to add/remove members if they are asked to do so, to filter spam, advertisements, and to interject their thoughts into the Forum, either to start a useful thread of discussion or to intervene in arguments. A disciplinary "NoPost" provision for a few days could apply for members who violate the rules of the Forum or to diffuse situations not beneficial to the members of the Forum. These disciplinary actions should be funneled through HEC's Executive Council.

Other suggestions and ideas are always welcomed, and we will do the best we can through the Executive Council of HEC to improve the Forum.

Now, going back to historical events, it is very relevant to how Forums interact, volunteering and accomplishments of members. In early 1990s there was the beginning of bringing the Greeks together via the Internet. The first NCSA Mosaic Internet browser came to life about early 1994. Immediately thought to complement the Hellas Forum List with a website (such page exists for the HEC Scholars Forum but almost no one using it but me). In summer of 1994 with the participation of many volunteers I started work in establishing the Hellas List website as an extension to Hellas Forum List. On September 1994 I took the Hellas List webpage online with the help of PhD candidate then Stefano Sidiropoulo who managed to host the site at Stanford U computer lab. Hellas started with gathering and disseminating information, hosting other organizations, organizing various projects as were becoming issues of discussions, and provide the means of communication to help Hellenism. Soon the site was thriving with hosting pages for other organizations, many visitors, several awards http://www.greece.org/hellas/awards/NetGuide-2Pages.pdf and mentions in many magazines http://www.greece.org/hellas/awards/I-way-Award-2Pages.pdf and Greek newspapers http://www.greece.org/hellas/awards/Apogeumatinh.pdf . Hundreds of people were registered on the Hellas site http://www.greece.org/hellas/mempage.html as well many Hellenic businesses. I was in collaboration with other Hellas Forum members, as Stratos Safioleas who was running the Diaspora website/newsletter, the "Enwsh Ellhnwn Xrhstwn Internet" (EEXI) Angelos Haritsis, several Student Associations from universities around the world http://www.greece.org/hellas/whsa/hsa-all.html , the Cyprus website headed by Panayioti Zaphiris and a group of students at U of MD, several Hellenic societies from different cities, and many others (note: all of the Hellas projects were moved later under HEC). The Hellas website primary server was at Stanford and was also mirrored at Surrey U. in UK, Democritus U. of Thrace (DUTH) (professor Moses Boudourides), Hellas OnLine (Antonis Yiannopoulos), Forthnet (Dimitris Zissiadis).

My vision, experience and initiative through the Hellas page to provide the means of communication to Greeks of Diaspora, provide web page hosting to other Hellenic organizations, to compile sources of information, to promote Hellenism through the Internet, etc. was evident since 1994 on the Hellas website. Late 1994, the "Stratologiko" was the hot subject of discussion on the Hellas Forum list because of new laws and regulations were affecting people in Diaspora. As I noted earlier, most of the Hellas members were students and scientists abroad, and had the need to know what were the consequences at the time, if one wanted to return to Greece. The "Stratologiko" project was born http://www.greece.org/hellas/stratologika.html with a lot of participation. The first and big task was to compile information on the subject. I had contacted the "Ypourgeio Amynas" and the Embassy to get information as well. People were posting via a form on the Hellas website their personal questions, which eventually were sent to authorities to get answers. On June 1995 I also had an Interview with Xrhstos Mplekas (Eley9erotypia) on the subject, which was published in the "INFO" section of the newspaper. Later, the "Geniko Epiteleio Ethnikhs Amynas" sent us a reply http://www.greece.org/hellas/apanthsi.html .

In reality, the first Hellenic project conceived through an Internet website, was the "Stratologiko" in 1994. A web form was created to collect questions from fellow Greeks with the objective to send them to "Ypourgeio Amynas" requesting responses. Soon thereafter, other projects started via the Hellas website as, the "Worldwide Hellenic Students Association (WHSA)" with many University student associations (see link above), "Learn Greek Through Internet", and others listed in the Hellas original web page.

Through the Hellas Forum list I met another person, Mixalhs Kolios, PhD candidate then at University of Toronto CA. Also members were professor Thanasis Episcopos, Stratos Safioleas, professor Nikos Provatas from Helsinki Finland(who started working on the Romiosini project http://www.greece.org/Romiosini/ ) , archeologist Elizabeth Kosmetatou (Konstantinato project http://www.greece.org/hec01/www/arts-culture/konstantinato/ ), Angie Tzouvelakos (Olympics project http://www.greece.org/hec01/www/projects/olympics/startup.html ) and others . The Hellas page was conceived and running at full speed long before HEC or Poseidon were formed.

At some point in early 1995 Evangelos was coming on and off the Hellas Forum. He did not know what myself, Safioleas and all others I have mentioned were doing back then for Greece, for Cyprus, and Hellenism in Diaspora, and I do not think he liked the Hellas Forum much being a businessman. Then, he stumbled upon my Hellenic Website, and he wrote asking me to help him on his business website in NYC, which thereafter I listed it (Rigos Chartering) in the Business section of Hellas http://www.greece.org/hellas/business.html . We started exchanging emails and having a sailor background he wanted to work on a project about Hellas and the Sea.

I had the experience to unite Hellenes through Internet and provide the means of communications with my computer expertise and the Hellas website. Evangelos had the experience in maritime subjects and he proven to be a good organizer in delegating tasks. Our passion was to work for Hellenism and not for personal gains. Michalhs also joined in our conversations at the very start.

The three of us collaborated and on 01-Mar-1995 we posted a call for volunteers for the Poseidon project in the Hellas Forum and elsewhere. Does this sound familiar? Unlike the HEC Scholars Forum projects, which they are starting and die with almost no participation, the Poseidon project took off. The call for volunteers was signed as: the three "Captains" of the project, Evangelos, Mihalhs, and myself. Thanasis joined as as an "Officer" and all the volunteers as the "Crew". Volunteers started pouring in from the Hellas Forum, signing in through the Hellas website. I placed a Poseidon page under the Hellas website and our address velox.stanford.edu/hellas/Poseidon.html marked a milestone of significant things to come. (preserved here: http://www.greece.org/hellas/poseidon.html )

Kolios, Episcopos, Rigos and I, started talking about expanding over Poseidon and what Hellas had established, to create an umbrella organization for gathering and disseminating information, hosting other organizations, provide the means of communication to help Hellenism and creating more large projects promoting the Hellenic culture as Poseidon. On 03-Apr-1995, we leveraged the Poseidon project and made an announcement to the "Crew", which by then had 51 volunteers, http://www.greece.org/hellas/images/HEC-Announcement.pdf and to the world about establishing a committee for the creation of a Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC). I created the first ever HEC web page under the Hellas website, which is preserved here: http://www.greece.org/hellas/hec.html . Looking at this historical page we see all the very first organizations endorsing the creation of HEC. What is significant and relevant to this discussion is the fact that there is one common denominator: all people behind these organizations (except one, Shipbrokers Association) were members of Hellas with whom I was collaborating for long time in the past - our first supporters were all Hellas members: "Diaspora" newsletter by Safiolea and Dikaiako, Yianopoulos, Koulogiannis, Boudourides, Zaphiris, Haritsis, Glenn, George.

Thereafter, all communications to Poseidon volunteers included both the HEC and the Poseidon names. Naturally, both HEC and Poseidon were hosted under the Hellas site and we continued using the Hellas List network promoting our cause, but without having our own server or domain name. The Poseidon project volunteers were working in producing content, while some of us, mainly Thanassis, Evangelos, Kolios, and myself were working in promoting and gathering support for HEC.

On 03-Dec-1995, all four of us started working in writing the HEC bylaws http://www.greece.org/hec/admin/docs/hecbylaw.html . Episcopos really was doing most of the writing with our support. Kolios left us soon thereafter at this early stage, but he is also considered one of the four HEC co-founders. Episcopos eventually moved permanently back to Greece and at some point around mid 2000s as a professor at the Economics U in Athens he did not have the time he wanted to spend for HEC, so he resigned from his HEC Director duties.

On 23-Jan-1996 after completing our initial bylaws, the name "Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC) Inc." was incorporated in the state of Delaware with the help of George Righos (Evangelos' brother). http://www.greece.org/hec/admin/gov/DE-Certificate-of-Incorporation.pdf . I should note that George has been working with us since the beginning and much credit for pulling through our tasks is due to him. Even though he has left us now, he is still working diligently and runs the Odyssey Hellenic Charter School in Delaware.

With contacts in Forthnet and HelleasOnLine (HOL) arranged to have a website access for us, while I was working to get the Greece.org domain name. I worked with Zisiadi at Forthnet and he created the required NS Resource Records in the DNS of Forthnet. Immediately I submitted the name registration and the HEC's name was established on Internet registry (Domain ID:D69095-LROR, Domain Name:GREECE.ORG, Created On: 03-May-1996 04:00:00 UTC) initially hosted in Forthnet http://www.greece.org/hellas/images/history-domain.pdf .

When the domain name became operational, we moved under the HEC domain the Hellas website and its projects, and the Poseidon web pages, which at the time were under development as all of us plus many other volunteers were working on that project. Poseidon was the largest project we had to-date. Many volunteers had joined the Poseidon project, and as HEC was evolving being the umbrella organization, naturally many of them were among the first HEC members. Our goal was to have the Poseidon project content online and mostly completed by Summer of 1996 targeting "Posidonia 96" maritime exhibit in Piraeus. Evangelos with his connections in maritime world enabled us to obtain a booth at Posidonia, and my connections to Internet world enabled us to work closely with our friends at Forthnet and HOL, which were the main sponsors of our exhibit for providing staff, computers and network connections. Our booth presentation was a great success http://www.greece.org/hec/posidonia96/

HEC and Poseidon (as a HEC project) was lunched 03-June-1996 during "Posidonia 1996" http://www.greece.org/hec/WhoWeAre/launch.html .

The connectivity from Forthnet to USA was troublesome sometimes. In 1997 we moved our domain to my friend's Angelo Kostopoulos Internet business (Sysnet). Then we had to move to some other location in Tennessee USA where another fellow Greek offered to host our domain. This ended up being a big problem and we almost lost our domain name. Immediately after that, we bought our own server and Sysnet offered us to host our domain and co-locate our server in their facility. We are very grateful to Sysnet friends who since then to present, they are providing this service for us.

On 07-Mar-1997 we submitted to IRS the final application as had been requested, for Non-Profit, Non-Political organization status http://www.greece.org/hec/admin/gov/IRS-Application-501c3.pdf . On April of 1997 IRS issued to us a Letter of Determination granting us our request http://www.greece.org/hec/admin/gov/501-c-3.pdf .

HEC's initial Proposal http://www.greece.org/hec/WhoWeAre/proposal.html was written as per our plan. The plan highlights what the Original HEC's objectives were, and still are. All objectives have in common the need of an all volunteer force with people expressing their love for our Hellenic culture and strong technical people to be able to achieve these goals.

HEC's goals are very well defined as you have seen in the links above and our website http://www.greece.org/ . The Scholars Forum as one of HEC's projects is yet to reach even remotely its potential. HEC is here to help and provide the means for the Forum members to communicate, collaborate, and work for the good of Hellenism as per HEC's charter.

The Hellas Forum List members were instrumental for HEC.
It remains to be seen what the HEC Scholars Forum will accomplish.

HEC is an open platform to everyone for expressing their views and using it as a tool for doing something tangible for Hellenism.

Thanos Voudouris
HEC co-founder and Director
thanos@greece.org

_______________________

Many thanks to the other three HEC co-founders (Thanasi Episcopos, Evangelo Rigos, Michali Kolios),

to all members of HEC's Executive Council who have served over the years (George Righos, Nikos Provatas, Antonis Bouris, Dimitris Southerd, Chris Theoharis, Anna Lawless, Eleni Bomis, Fotini Eleftheriadou, Stelios Manias, Nico Michael, Bill Gatzoulis, Ted Karakostas, Thomae Kakouli-Duarte, Tom Papadopoulos),

to distinguished friends for their help ( Antonis Yiannopoulos, Dimitris Zisiadis, Angelo Haritsis, Lefteris Hazapis, Nikos George, Panayiotis Zaphiri, Stratos Safioleas, Moses Boudouridis, Elizabeth Kosmetatou, Vasilis Papavassilou, Kostas Gavrinas, Yiannis Tambouras, Eva Prionas, Labrini Thoma, George Michalopoulos),

and the hundreds of volunteers who helped us through this journey since 1995.

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