MOLINE, IL — By the time he begins a busy day in his private clinical practice here, John R. Roraback, Ph.D., will already have spent two to three hours on the Internet and World Wide Web searching for information that he thinks will be of interest to other psychologists.
And when he returns home in early evening, Roraback will spend another two or more hours surfing cyberspace looking for news and other information about his profession.
Roraback spends up to 40 hours a week on these activities, without receiving a dime in remuneration. However, along the psychology internet, his name has become a household word. John Roraback
Another Internet addict? Leading contender in a “get a life” contest? Hardly.
Roraback is the guardian of PsyUSA Network, the three-year-old Internet and World Wide Web service that sends out between 10 and 20 individual postings daily–stories and articles concerning the psychology profession.
“I believe creation of the Internet and the World Wide Web are the most important technological advances since the invention of the printing press and moveable type,” Roraback said.
He explained that he started his service about four years ago, but it was limited to Illinois psychologists. Then he received an offer from Robert Zenhausern, Ph.D., of St. Johns University in Jamaica, N.Y., to locate the service there. St. Johns had the most developed system of mail lists at that time.
Beginning with eight subscribers, PsyUSA Network now has 1,200 registered users and the list grows larger daily. Roraback thinks there is potential for 2,000 to 3,000 subscribers, but realizes that most psychologists don’t use the Internet.
“It remains a mystery to me why more psychologists don’t use the Internet, but it is a very important tool, both to practitioners and researchers,” Roraback said.
Roraback’s service is both unique and sophisticated. He can, for example, send messages to only one state if he feels that is appropriate. He has access to 50 mail lists, which he controls from his personal computer in the den of his home.
“Part of what I have been doing is pushing technology in several ways. I want to be able for subscribers to control what they receive,” Roraback said. “This is an attempt to build in a certain selectivity so a psychologist would not have to receive everything I send, but select from a few broad categories.”
At the moment, subscribers can zero in on three primary categories. The PsyUSA selection contains the basic information on practice issues. People who have opinions on a particular subject are directed to PsyPOV (for point of view), and those who want to swap information can use Psychat, the service’s chat room.
The chat room, Roraback said, is particularly helpful for the solo practitioners “in remote places like Montana and the backwoods of West Virginia. These are practitioners who may live a considerable distance from other psychologists and merely want to keep up on what people are thinking about.”
There is also access to PsyTech, which helps with technical questions, and DB Help, a guide to surfing data bases.
Roraback is also creating a Uniform Resource Locator that can help psychologists interested in such subject matter as health care, financing, managed care, policy and legislation, the business of psychology, and demographic information.
The system allows individuals to send queries about a particular subject in hopes than someone reading the posting will have an answer.
The service’s Web site is: http://maelstrom.stjohns.edu/archives/psyusa.html