How it began - where we are ...
1997: The first steps
The Mercury Network was created 1997 in Santarem / Brazil, as one of the results of a Workshop on mercury use in gold mining. 17 participants based in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Venezuela and United Kingdom, decided to stay in permanent contact by setting up a simple Webpage at "Geocities" with their email addresses published.
This rudimentary network had defined its objectives to:
1998: A more integral approach
4 basic principles ruled for the Mercury Network:
To attract new members, the Mercury Network - "Hg-net" - got a new design, offering at the "www.hruschka.com/hg-net" WebSite additional information, like an extensive "Link"-page with a first (and simple) interactive tool to add links to WebPages, a News-Section for announcements of conferences and seminars, etc. Nevertheless, the core of "Mercury Networking" - subscription of new members and forwarding of messages - was still done manually by the "Administrator".
The initial way of information-interchange (sending an email to all members), began to become difficult in 1999, when the Network had grown to more than 70 members. Most mail-servers began to reject messages with such a huge number of recipients.
2000: New millennium - new design - new features
Maintaining the goals and principles from the early days of the Mercury Network, a completely redesigned Hg-net-WebSite went online in march 2000. Bilingue, interactive and full of new features. Subscription is now a question of minutes and can be done online, messages between members will be processed by a Mailing List Server, Members may publish a reasonable amount of documents at the Hg-net WebSite for free, and a lot more ... Check it out !
There is a lot of work to do to reach our objectives. The abuse of mercury in small-scale and artisanal gold mining is still a very common and emerging problem in most developing countries. Other forms of inappropriate use of mercury are common even in highly industrialized countries.
The Mercury Network has never been, and will never be a platform for radical mercury-banning activists. Let's stay realistic! Extreme points of view often lead to adverse and not desired side-effects. But as long as the negative environmental impact of mercury constitutes a global problem, we have to find and apply actively the appropriate solutions!
The Mercury Network is just a small contribution to solve the problem. I know, networking alone will not improve the situation, but if we don't do any networking, and if we don't share our information and expertise, the problems will not be solved at all ! Therefor the "Members Directory" (list of all subscribed members) will remain to be the core of the Network, because it provides a chance for any Internet user to contact different resource persons and to clarify eventual questions and doubts in the most objective way: by various opinions.
If our group of experts and resource persons (*) continues growing at a rate of 100% per year ... maybe together we may be able to move things !
I know, nothing is
perfect and everything can be done better.
If you have any suggestions please let me know.
Your Hg-net Administrator
(*) Intentionally the Mercury Network does not and cannot evaluate the "mercury-expertise" of it's members - but many internationally recognized experts are participating in the Hg-net ! We trust in the description of his/her interests, provided by each member during subscription. If somebody is interested in mercury issues, he/she might be able to contribute in solving the problems and she/he is welcome in our Network.