One learned critic referred to my last set of notes as a "philippic"
("a discourse or declamation full of bitter condemnation", originally
referring to Demosthenes' tirades against Philip II of Macedon).  I
don't know if this was a rebuke or just a joke on my name.  Whatever
the case, I've resolved to tone down the ranting, which has started
wearing thin.  Some notes, then, mainly calm ones, albeit mostly about
patterns of thought that have been bothering me, plus a bunch of book
recommendations and some URL's.

Some technical advice, please?  I want to buy a new laptop so I can
write books on islands and in hotel rooms, but above all I want to
run Emacs.  What are my options?  I had a Macintosh port of Emacs; it
made me happy, but it broke in OS 8.  Linux is the emotional choice,
but I'm afraid of the administration overhead.  Who makes it simple?
I'll gather the useful answers and make them available to the list.

Conservatives often argue that communism, especially the Stalinist
kind, was the logical consequence of Man trying to play God.  Who
originated that argument?  Do you have a citation?

Here is my new business plan.  The company is called
You go to the web site and you give it your credit card number.  It
charges $19.95 to your card, and then it goes off into the databases
of the world, extracting all of the information about you that it
can find.  It feeds that information into our brand new 128-processor
Linux supercomputer, and two minutes later you get a new Web page that
presents a large number of creepy numerological facts about your life.
Perhaps the letters in the name of your brother-in-law, when combined
according to a numerical encoding, add up to 666.  Perhaps the number
of checks that you have ever bounced is the same as the number of
courses you ever flunked in school.  Perhaps the number of calories in
the food you bought in your supermarket last month is exactly halfway
between the number of miles that you drove on your old Pontiac and the
zip code of your birthplace.  For an extra $10 you get
Gold Edition, which includes a nice set of suggested lottery numbers,
each guaranteed to have the kind of deep personal significance that
spells luck.

Recent discussions have brought home to me the intellectual harm
that can be wrought by simplistic dichotomies.  I'm not talking about
ordinary conceptual distinctions.  I'm talking about the unreflective
acceptance of huge vague partitions that falsely sort everything into
category A and category B.  The problem is usually not that anybody
is consciously obfuscating, but rather that they have been socialized
into a certain way of talking and thinking but have not acquired the
critical tools to recognize the patterns.  All of the ways of talking
and thinking that they've learned will make local sense, and their
conclusions will seem iron-clad precisely because their premises
are hidden away in subtle abuses of language.  At least that is the
sympathetic intepretation.  And much sympathy is needed, given the
often extreme emotions and actions that these dichotomies can lead
to in practice.  I'll mention four of these patterns that have really
gotten in the way lately.

The first is the dichotomy between supporters and opponents of
something called "technology".  You may recall that I circulated
a summary of an article by Hara and Kling describing some of the
problems that they found in a field study of an online distance
education course.  They argued based on a survey of the literature
that problems in the use of distance education technology are a
"taboo" in the field.  Well, their thesis was certainly supported by
the response that their paper summary provoked.  One guy called me a
"saboteur" just for passing the summary to my list.  (This particular
guy eventually apologized once I explained things to him very slowly.)
Another guy, from a senior professor of education, publicly issued
a series of false accusations against the authors, and then started
insulting me when I explained his mistakes.  (This guy sort of
apologized too.  So there's hope.)

What is going on here?  I certainly don't believe that the majority of
people involved in educational technology participate in this sort of
true-believerdom.  I have no idea of the proportions.  But I do know
that a substantial subculture does think this way.  I spent some time
trying to decode the underlying structure of the messages.  The major
part of it, I think, is precisely the broad, vague dichotomy between
supporters and opponents of technology.  These people -- and again I'm
just talking about a certain subculture -- have an Enemy, namely the
anti-technology forces who selfishly want to protect their own perks
while preventing children from getting a proper technology-enhanced
education.  Faced with anything, they think: "Is this thing pro- or
anti-technology?  If it's not pro- then it must be anti-.  And if it's
anti- then it's wacko Luddism that is totally beyond the Pale.  QED."

The logic continues along the same track as the conversation proceeds.
If you tell them, "No, it's not anti-technology", then they just get
confused and say, "So what's the point?" -- they can only imagine two
points, pro- and anti-.  If you tell them, "Surely it's good to know
some of the things that can go wrong", then they just get confused
and say, "Well, that's just human error, not anything that's inherent
in the technology" -- again as if the only possible issue is whether
the technology is good or bad.  Or they look at you funny and respond,
"Well okay, just fix that" -- as if any issue beyond the technology is
necessarily trivial.  Or they say, "That's just because those people
haven't learned how to use the technology yet", or else, "That's just
that one technology, not technology in general".  In each case, their
"listening", as Werner Erhard would say, is "Is this pro- or anti-?".
No other question can get on the agenda until that one is decided.

It sort of sounds like a syllogism, this parsing of all things into
pro- or anti-, so what's wrong with it?  Well, first, nobody has ever
encountered Technology in general.  One only encounters particular
technologies.  If schools are told that they much buy Technology and
lots of it, the money will almost certainly be wasted.  It matters
which technology one chooses.  You would think it an obvious point,
but I have often been unable to get it across.  Second, the very word
"technology" can mean a lot of different things.  If you are David
Noble, who really is an anti-technology Luddite, then technology
means a certain package of machines, social relationships, industrial
practices, political economy, and so on.  Many such packages are
indeed bad and deserve to be outvoted, if not necessarily smashed.
To the pro-technology subculture, by contrast, technology usually
refers to machines in a narrow sense.  This is dangerous because --
and this is the third problem -- particular kinds of machines can be
either useful or useless depending on how they are used in practice.
Economists observe that computers require a lot of complementary
resources such as skills, spare parts, and maintenance.  What is more,
computers usually do not improve productivity unless organizations
and their work practices are redesigned, and redesigning organizations
and work practices is a whole lot harder than installing computers.
Kling and Hara's paper, which grows out of a longstanding research
tradition, points out a few of the complementarities between computers
and their contexts, and it suggests something of the difficulty that
would be involved in changing a whole institutional system over to
computer-mediated distance education, not just a set of computers
or a single classroom.  Anybody who reflexively regards this sort of
thing as Luddism is setting up their movement for a serious fall down
the road.  The story had a happy ending, though: the New York Times
published a brief article summarizing Hara and Kling's findings and
noting the controversy they provoked online.  Notch one more taboo.

The second dichotomy is between centralization and decentralization.
For the past ten years, a whole elaborate libertarian discourse has
been organized around such a dichotomy, with the Internet and the
market on the decentralized side of angels and with the telephone
company and the government on the centralized side of the devils.
Part of the problem in evaluating the arguments of this movement
is that they often use words in fancy ways that render their claims
tautological, for example using the word "monopoly" to refer only
to government-created monopolies, or using the word "hierarchy" to
refer only to the government.  Thus the Internet can be held to smash
all monopolies and hierarchies even in the midst of a vast episode
of industrial consolidation.  This sleight-of-hand covers up some
uncomfortable truths, and I have tried in my own small way to uncover
these truths in a couple of my recent essays, including "Designing
the new information services" and "The self-limiting Internet".
The argument, briefly, is that decentralized coordination requires
aframework of institutions and standards that, at least in many
cases (not all, but many), can only be created through some kind
of centralized coordination.  This coordination can be provided by
government, or by the sponsor of a new technology, or by a monopoly,
or through negotiation in a standards body, or by the interaction
of these.  I warn against the dangers of getting "stuck", whether
in a centralized mode that arises to coordinate an institutional or
standards transition, or in a decentralized mode that cannot move
forward because its institutional or standards framework cannot be

Now, you would think that such an argument would be welcomed by the
fans of a decentralized society, inasmuch as it begins to chart the
rocky waters that their social project will be required to navigate.
But no, in fact these essays have met quite a bit of incomprehension
and hostility from the libertarian world.  I am accused, for example,
of advocating centralization.  Some of them even jump vociferously to
the conclusion that I want "top-down leadership", "central authority",
"legislating", "dictating", and so on.  That, after all, is how the
arguments will parse to someone for whom the major conceptual scheme
is centralization equals government equals bad versus decentralization
equals market equals good.  None of those equations is necessarily
either right or wrong.  It all depends.  It would be a shame if this
allergy to anything that even rhymes with a center derails needed
efforts at coordination, whether public or private, and brings about
the very scenario that I described in the "self-limiting Internet"
paper: the market working in its normal way, through property rights
as an incentive to investment, to produce a proprietary outcome.  In
any case, it should be said that one of my skeptical correspondents
did describe a plausible mechanism for a transition to IPv6, which
is the version of the Internet Protocol that can support a 128-bit
address space of hosts.  On his scenario, IPv6 is pushed by the self-
interest of the manufacturers of embedded Internet devices, which
many people expect to be vastly more numerous than personal computers
and mainframes.  Once a sufficiently massive network of IPv6-enabled
equipment gets established in this fashion, everyone else will be
pulled along.  This trick probably doesn't work much more than once,
so I hope we get all the upgrades we need at that time.

If that particular dichotomy tends to be found mostly among those on
the libertarian right, the third dichotomy that I have encountered
lately is found largely on the left.  This is the dichotomy between
economics and power.  Someone from Germany was most upset, though much
more politely than the others I've mentioned, that my "self-limiting
Internet" essay talked in economic language about the relationship
between technical change and institutional change.  Surely, he says,
institutional change is primarily about power, not about economics,
as if the two could be separated.  I am afraid that this fellow is
not an aberration among my academic friends on the left.  The left
has changed.  Marx, despite his many failings, understood that power
is bound up with economics.  He saw history unfolding through a
dialectical clash between the forces of production and the relations
of production, whose articulation in any given historical period can
be described most fundamentally by the institutionalized fashion in
which surplus value is extracted from the core productive activities
of societies and diverted in the interests of capital.  Marx felt that
society is founded in its means of making a living.  This is way too
simple, but the point here is that, according to Marx, if you know how
people get fed, clothed, and housed, then you know an awful lot.

This view is no longer widespread.  Part of the problem pertains to
academic disciplines.  The economists and the sociologists fight with
one another, each insisting that it can absorb the other's territory.
In particular, economics has been largely taken over by a technical
style of reasoning whose imperialism most sociologists dislike.  Thus
the appeal of discursive theories of power such as that of Foucault,
which are valuable when they are appropriated with a dose of scholarly
context and common sense, and sometimes disastrous when they are not.
Learning the economics requires a little math, it makes your head
hurt, and it tries to brainwash you with its deceptively all-embracing
view of the world.  But that should not be a problem to someone who
reads seriously.  Fortunately, a movement has arisen of economic
sociologists who have engaged in a dialogue with the economists who
tread on their turf, and I think that the results are among the most
interesting of scholarly movements right now.  (See Richard Swedberg,
Economics and Sociology: Redefining Their Boundaries, Princeton
University Press, 1990.)  My own essay on Internet standards problems
in their institutional context was intended as a small example of
how to analyze technology by crossing the borders between these two
seemingly very different worlds, which I argue are closely connected
underneath.  I don't pretend to be anything but an amateur, but it
seems to me that someone has to try.

The fourth and final dichotomy that's been bothering me is between
"real" and "virtual".  For example, people often ask, "will virtual
businesses cause the real businesses to shut down?".  The point is not
that "virtual" equals "fake", but rather that the world is sorted into
two bins, the entirely online and the entirely offline.  For example,
one speaks of "virtual community", presupposing in a tacit way that
the members of such a community do not have any interactions in other
media, much less face-to-face.  This is unfortunate.  It is much more
useful to imagine a continuum, with "entirely virtual" at one end and
"entirely real" at the other end.  Much better, imagine a whole vast
multi-dimensional design space, with "entirely virtual" in one small
corner and "entirely real" in another.  "Real" businesses can use
"virtual" media in hundreds of targeted ways, and vice versa.  Better
yet, make a clear analytical distinction between "communities" and
the technologies that those communities happen to use.  I probably
don't have to spell out the point any further.

In sum, I want us to get beyond simplistic dichotomies: technology pro
versus con, centralized versus decentralized, economics versus power,
and real versus virtual.  I don't think that any of these dichotomies
is useful at all.  Critically examined, they dry up and blow away,
whereupon they can be replaced by concepts that are more contextual,
more integrative, and more dynamic.  When you break open a simplistic
dichotomy, you usually find that you need numerous brand new concepts
to describe the whole massive space in-between.  So it's natural that
people will stick to the slogans.  They're easy to say.  But they're
also mistaken, and they lead to unpleasant interactions and misguided
prescriptions.  The general point is that we need a critical technical
practice: our talking and doing about technology needs to be informed
by ideas about ideas, and by critical thinking.  We need to examine
the history of our concepts, the metaphors we use to express them,
the assumptions they leave articulated, the distinctions they
conflate, the contextual variation they hide, and the alternatives
they foreclose.  We need to do this now, while things are in flux.
If we permit our world to be remade by people who are in the grip of
simplistic dichotomies, whether innocently or not, then someday soon
we are going to be sorry.

I have a scenario: drives all of the world's independent
bookstores out of business, and then it goes bankrupt.

What a privilege it is to live in these times of rapid improvements in
technology!  The technology we take for granted today is incomparably
better than the stuff that seemed so wildly impressive even two
years ago.  I refer, of course, to cheap pens.  The two main lines
of evolution in cheap pen technology are, as you know, liquid-ink and
gel pens, and lately I have come across especially evolved examples
of each.  I bought a Zebra Zeb-Roller DX7 in Ireland -- actually I
bought the only two I could find and then lost one.  It's a liquid ink
pen with a cylindrical tip that is similar in philosophy to the Pilot
Precise V7 but works a lot better.  It is downright therapeutic to
write with, totally unscratchy, like gliding on a lubricated surface,
without the uneven lines that the V7 often produced.  Because its
0.7mm tip produces so much ink, it can bleed when writing on absorbent
surfaces.  It's not especially precise.  Its cheesy brown plastic is
not fashionable, though it does have some cool translucent blue near
the tip.  And like all such pens it runs out of ink fairly quickly.
But despite these liabilities, when judged strictly by writeability
it's clearly one of the best ever.  If I manage to get it into a
write-off with one of my Reynolds Ink Balls (which I deliberately left
home because they tend to puke on the road) then I'll let you know.

My other discovery is the Paper-Mate Gel-Writer.  I don't think of
Paper-Mate as a maker of quality cheap pens, and I certainly don't
recommend any of the other Paper-Mate pens I've tried.  But this one
is different.  It is a gel pen, somehow like writing with liquidized
plastic more than any feeling one would associate with ink.  So you
have to like that feeling in order to appreciate it.  That said,
though, the Gel-Writer is the most effortless (or, as we would have
said at MIT, least effortful) gel pen I've tried.  Its faux-marble
barrel is not as cool as it would have been last year, but it's okay.
What's really special is what happens as the pen starts running out
of ink.  I don't understand this technology and wish I did.  As best
I can understand, the ink is chased down toward the tip by a wad of
clear plasticky stuff, which may or may not have compressed air behind
it.  I wanted to saw the pen open to find out, but I'm traveling and
it's not normal behavior to ask the hotel manager if you can borrow
a saw.  So that particular experiment will have to wait until I get
home.  Maybe you can try it yourself.  Remember your safety goggles.

I've tried several other cheap pens lately that are worth writing
about, but they will have wait for another time.

I have been keeping a list of foundations that I wish somebody would
start.  Here are a few of them:

     * Signbusters. Groups of traveling retirees who take a training
   course and then file reports on the signs wherever they go on
   their travels. If they get tripped up by a misleading sign, they'll
   go back and examine it according to their training, and if it
   turns out to fail one or more of the criteria of good signage then
   they'll write it up. The home office will then research the design
   company that produced the signs, and the winners/losers will be
   laughed at.

     * Sandblasting International. The world is full of excellent
   cities, Budapest for example, that would be even more excellent
   if someone spent a moderate amount of money to sandblast a couple
   hundred of the most interesting old buildings. Surely there is a
   cosmopolitan plutocrat out there who thinks this would be a good
     * Stats Watch. Public discourse is full of terrible abuses
   of statistics, especially statistical correlations that are
   interpreted as proving otherwise implausible causalities. Stats
   Watch would be a volunteer association of statisticians who notice
   these things, file reports, and ridicule the worst offenders. In
   this case, however, the "honors" should not be announced at the
   end of the year, but right away, preferably within the same news
   cycle in which the bogus statistic is used. Otherwise few people
   will ever make the connection, and the stats-abusers will get the
   rhetorical effect they want. My informal sense is that these worst
   offenders are political think tanks that are paid to come up with
   arguments for preconceived positions whether the arguments really
   make sense or not.

Some libertarians were upset, as you might imagine, at my essay on the
ideas of John Commons.  They were upset partly because I disagree with
them, but partly I was unclear on one point.  That point concerns a
guy named Friedrich Hayek (often called von Hayek). If you don't know
who Hayek is, Hayek is to capitalism what Marx was to communism: both
its most important theorist and its most important political activist.
Maybe "most important" is not the right phrase, but with each author,
Marx and Hayek, a political-economic ideology reached its mature form
and laid the intellectual basis for itself as an activist movement.
Marx you know about. When I mentioned Hayek's "Individualism and
Economic Order" a while back, one scholarly RRE reader said "[t]his is
Hayek-the-social-scientist-of-genius, with only occasional appearances
by his evil twin, Hayek-the-right-wing-ideologue". Hayek grew up in
Vienna and moved to the Britain and then United States (I don't recall
exactly when) to escape the ominous political climate of the 1930s.
He argues for a particular sort of laissez-faire: minimal government
regulation of the economy, but a strong legal system that applies
laws with rigorous disregard for the identities and attributes of the
people they are applied to.  This is the "rule of law".

The Hayek whom my correspondent called the social scientist of genius
had very interesting things to say about the role of information in
the economy. Whereas the currently dominant neoclassical tradition
of economics tends to ignore problems of economics, or only to deal
with them as incremental modifications of an idealized world in
which information is infinite, perfect, and free, Hayek regards
the production of information as the central problem of the economy.
He believes that individuals accumulate a great deal of information
about the circumstances that they know best -- this is called "local
knowledge", although the locality need not be narrowly defined in
geographic space. He also believes that it is impossible in principle
for anybody, including a government, to gather enough of this vastness
of information into one place to direct the economy in a centralized
way. This is what I had in mind a few months ago when I jokingly
mentioned the cheap Linux supercomputers that might have saved the
Soviet Union. That wouldn't be a joke to Hayek, who would not have
been impressed by Linux supercomputers one bit. The Hayek whom
my correspondent called the evil right wing ideologue had very
interesting things to say about political institutions. He believed
that the "spontaneous order" of the nongovernmental part of society
is infinitely rich and unpredictable in its ability to solve
the problems of people's lives, and he was deeply distrustful of
political institutions that attempted to substitute themselves for
the emergent and self-organizing wisdom of the spontaneous order.
He was so distrustful of such things that much of his mature writing
was centrally concerned to place conceptual and institutional limits
on the actions that the state could take. Hayek thought of himself
as a supporter of democracy, but that is only true in the narrowest
conceivable sense, given that his main purpose in life was preventing
democracies from doing things that he disapproved of. His famous
tract, "The Road to Serfdom", was written in the context of 1940s
British politics, but it is still worth reading for its highly
cultivated sense that any initiative to regulate the spontaneous
order of society beyond the extremely restrictive neutrality of the
rule of law is necessarily a step onto a slippery slope that leads to

That is what I meant when I said that, for Hayek, any amount of
democracy necessary leads to harder stuff. Despite the importuning
of my correspondents, I still have no problem describing Hayek as an
opponent of democracy. He grew up in an antidemocratic climate, and
even if he broke with the authoritarian conclusions that most others
in that climate drew, the antidemocratic aspect of this political
orientation did not fundamentally change. Where I was unclear is
in connection with Hayek's relationship to anarchism. Hayek was
not an anarchist because anarchists do not believe in a legal system.
My purpose in my first few paragraphs was to set up an analogy,
with Hayek being analagous to Luther and modern-day anarchists being
analogous to the militant Protestants who smashed icons and overturned
authority. Both of them opposed the Church hierarchy, but only the
militants were opposed to all spiritual and temporal authority. Luther
wanted to remove some of the mediations between the worshipper and
God, but the militants wanted to remove them all. I wanted to describe
the many people who indiscriminately denounce "government", democratic
or not, as analogues of those militants: they took a certain tendency
from the likes of Hayek and simplistically went nuts with it. This
is what I meant by these people being Hayek's "legacy", not that I
thought that Hayek would be one of them. I did make this clear later
when I wrote of people who seem to speak Hayek's language but really

The point is this. A lot of the people these days who denounce
government and plot to undermine intermediaries in every sphere (the
two often go together even though they are not logically connected,
and this is what provoked the analogy to the icon-smashers) are not
especially philosophical, and many of them just look confused if
anyone draws out for them the logic of what they are saying. They
may not think of themselves as anarchists. And just for that reason,
their indiscriminate attack on "government" is dishonest, because
they reserve to themselves the right to denounce those manifestations
of government that they dislike, and to do so with the full fury of a
simple set of slogans, and then to embrace other aspects of government
that they happen to like, such as stringent divorce laws or a large
military, without feeling any sense of contradiction. (They also tend
to be indiscriminate enemies of "lawsuits", even though conservatives
such as Hayek have commonly thought of the common law as the best
possible institution of government.) This is not reasonable or fair,
and I think that one should be able to take exception to it without
being labeled a communist.

As regular readers of this list will be aware, I do not believe that
information technology generally or the Internet in particular create
much that is new in the world. Instead they provide ways to amplify
social forces that already exist. The intuition is that people take
hold of any technology within their framework of life: their existing
system of concepts, motives, habits, and relationships. Of course,
once they do take hold of the technology in those ways, the equilibria
of forces that had formerly shaped the existing institutions might
break down, eventually causing the institutions to seek a new
form. But it's not the technology that did that; it's a particular
kind of interaction between the technology and the workings of the

Well, in response to those ideas recently, a Eastern European guy who
is a prominent figure in the democratization of his country expressed
disagreement. Looking a little bewildered, he said that the Internet
had created freedom of information, and that freedom of information
destroys authoritarian governments. I responded no, that Eastern
Europeans had created freedom of information, that the Internet among
other technologies were tools for this purpose, and that no freedom
of information would have been created if Eastern Europeans had not
already had the concept and the cultural forms of free information.
For the contrasting case, look at Belarus, where only the most
miniscule stratum of intellectuals seems to care about freedom of

The commonplace idea that the Internet causes things, it seems to me,
is disempowering. It encourages a cargo cult, waiting around for the
Internet to bring you good things. It also dulls analysis, flattens
out distinctions between cases, and directs attention away from most
of the factors that interact to create either good or bad outcomes
from the use of the technology.

Part of the problem is that the Eastern European guy heard me to be
saying that the Internet leaves everything the way it is, amplifying
everything but leaving all the relationships the same. But again
we have to analyze (what social scientists call) the mediations
that shape how the Internet is used.  For example, few communists
are enthusiastic about the Internet.  Perhaps it is like vampires
and garlic, the liberatory potentials of the technology causing
an allergic response in authoritarian hearts.  (Note that I say
potentials, not implications.) Communists in the West often regard
the Internet as simply one more capitalist technology, a means of
production like any other. This is not such an inaccurate view of the
first forty years of computing, but it is wildly inaccurate as a view
of the Internet. To be sure, the Internet is a great big means of
production, and its interaction with the rest of the political economy
of globalization is well worth studying regardless of one's politics.
But the Internet is a lot more complicated than that, assuming again
that the forces of good have some clue about what to do with it.

Once we open up -- that is, make intellectually visible -- the
mediations that shape how the Internet is used, we can start to notice
some interesting things. We might ask, for example, what assumptions
different societies hold about the processes of collective cognition
through which shared ideas arise.  Some societies assume that ideas
are the realm of the intelligentsia.  I don't know if anyone has ever
written a good comparative study of this concept, but my sense is
that it varies from country to country.  It sometimes seems to refer
to intellectuals -- people who make their living doing intellectual
work, usually including scientists. It can also refer to all educated
people, the idea being that educated people are a definite social
layer. Neither of these is at all related to the idea, widespread
in the United States, that intellectuals are ipso facto a bunch of
traitors. Think for example of George W. Bush, who dislikes people who
did better than him in school. I have even encountered the idea, most
recently in a message from a guy in Russia, that shared human values
derive from the discussions of "prominent human beings". This Russian
guy figured that the Internet would help the world by enabling these
prominent human beings to converse. I doubt this, given that prominent
human beings are already served by foundations that fly them en masse
to catered resorts in places like Aspen and Davos.

All of which tends to point up the cultural specificity of the theory
of collective cognition that I ascribed to John Commons the other
day. The flip side of American anti-intellectualism is the Jacksonian
populism that makes Americans figure that they are just as good as any
intellectual. This tension between professionalized and popular forms
of knowledge is basically a good thing. And even though I would be
the last person to impose the fine detail of the United States' often
bizarre political culture on other countries, I do think something is
wrong when ordinary people assume that coming up with ideas is someone
else's job. Societies work right when most everyone has acquired the
habit of reaching out laterally to people like themselves, forming
associations and companies and committees and parties and clubs and
mailing lists and so on. That kind of lateral reaching-out can't do
everything, and (contrary to the think tank fashions of the moment)
beyond a certain point the proper goal of such organizing is to
get good laws passed.  Nonetheless, the habits of association are a
necessary condition of a healthy society, acting together begins with
thinking together, and thinking together begins with the idea that
one's own ideas might be worthwhile. In France once I encountered
the idea that building a professional network around shared ideas and
values constituted the sin of pride, inasmuch as it presupposed that
one's own ideas had any value. It took me a week to figure out what
was wrong with that, and by then the moment had gone.

You will recall from last time that one rhetorical strategy of public
relations is associationism: coming up with factoids and arguments
that tend in a vague way to build convenient mental associations
betwen concepts and break inconvenient ones. I promised that once you
understand this you'll see it everywhere. Well, here is an example.
It is a quote that the Irish Times ascribes to one Gillian Kent,
group marketing manager for MSN, on the occasion of the recent howling
security bug in Hotmail:

  "Someone hacked into an older server carrying older code. We
  resolved the problem immediately, but it is the case that wherever
  software is in the world, someone will find a way into it."
  (9/1/99, page 17)

If you're thinking rationally then you'll find this statement
surprising.  Microsoft is going on record as stating that networked
services such as its own are inherently insecure. But you are not
supposed to interpret this statement with your rational mind. Instead,
you are supposed to interpret it with your lizard mind, the one that
knows only vague associations. From that perspective, the strategy
of the statement is clear: the associative bond between "Microsoft"
and "security problems" is being split open using two crowbars. One
crowbar is time: that association, they're saying, belongs in the
past. It was "older" code on an "older" server that was hacked into.
By way of comparison, I once saw a quote from a spokesman from a
mining company who said that associations between mining and pollution
may have represented the past, but nowadays mining companies are
completely different and use clean technologies such as computers.
Do you see how he was trying to break apart an existing bond and
create a new one? In the Microsoft case, you might be asking why they
put an insecure "older" server online that has access to all of its'
customers' personal mail. But that would be your rational mind acting
up again. The second crowbar is space: the system that the hackers go
into, they're saying, could have been anywhere, and has no special
association with us. It's code on the network that poses the problem,
not Microsoft.

This sort of thing might not work on computer industry insiders
who have specialized knowledge of the matter, not to mention mental
antibodies against the spokesbabble of Microsoft. But in the long
run, Microsoft doesn't live or die on the opinion of such people. 
It lives or dies on the thinking of normal people, people who have
better things to do and don't yet have settled ideas on these topics,
and so it is following the advice of its media advisors about how to
shape the thinking of those unsuspecting folks. Multiply this kind of
neurolinguistic programming by hundreds of thousands and you get the
corrosion of reason that is intrinsic to public relations as it is
currently practiced in commerce and politics alike.

These days it's fashionable to hate college professors. I don't like
this, and I don't have much respect for the college professors such
as myself who are too busy with serious work to speak out about it.
To give some idea of just how routine and unquestioned the nasty
stereotyping of college professors has become, let us consider one
simple example, which I have deliberately selected from the editors
of a reputedly liberal publication, Salon:

  After a century of communist atrocities, why do American academics
  still worship Karl Marx?

Notice the main grammatical device here: an equivocation between
"some" and "all".  Which way should the factual presupposition within
this question be interpreted: as "why do some academics worship Marx",
or "why do all academics worship Marx"? Well, if it were "some" then
the answer would be, "because academia finds it valuable to include
a great diversity of opinions, some of which are extreme". But that's
not what the author meant. Did the author mean "all"? Well, that
assertion would obviously be false. Rather than choose between the
triviality and the lie, therefore, the author chose the equivocation
that insinuates the lie while reserving the triviality as a fallback
position for deniability. This is a common technique.

Now some people, reading this discussion, will be up in arms about
the massive numbers of Marx-worshippers who supposedly fill the
universities. They've heard all about them on the radio. But it's
easy to create such an impression if you have the will and resources
to do so. Just set up a stereotype -- dirty Jew, communist college
professor, whatever -- and then feed your audience a steady diet
of examples. A certain small percentage of Jews happen to be dirty
people, and a certain small percentage of college professors happen
to be communists. But if you control the media, or if you are simply
willing and able to be more brazen than others in your use of it, then
you can serve up the dirty Jew of the week, or the communist college
professor of the week, until everyone who lacks first-hand knowledge
of the situation, or who is for some reason predisposed to agree with
you, has quite firmly associated "dirty" with "Jew" and "communist"
with "college professor" in their heads. Polemical vocabulary items
like "atrocities" and "worship" support this psychological process by
replacing clear thought with strong feeling. Does a scholar who writes
about Marx necessarily worship him? Does a department whose students
must read Marx alongside the other major figures of Western thought
necessarily worship him? The intensity of the words short-circuits any
such making of distinctions. It is then only a couple more steps until
the purges.

Recommended: Lowell Bryan, Jane Fraser, Jeremy Oppenheim, and Wilhelm
Ball, Race for the World: Strategies for Building a Great Global Firm,
Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999. This is the latest book
by Lowell Bryan, who was also the lead author of "Market Unbound", the
book on global financial markets that I recommended a couple of years
ago. Bryan and his colleagues are consultants at McKinsey, and their
book has all of the usual limitations of books by consultants: it is
not well footnoted, it drives home one single idea relentlessly on
page after page, it overgeneralizes its analysis, it puts fancy names
on old ideas, and it is basically (as Rob Kling says) a book-length
business card that aims to sell you McKinsey's consulting services.
That said, it does offer a compelling picture of the world. According
to this picture, almost all industries are going to integrate on a
global basis. "Integrate" means that one company will dominate the
whole business in every country. Companies will merge across national
boundaries. Every company will have to decide: buy your opposite
numbers in other markets, get bought by them, or (the most usual case)
break yourself into several parts, sell the ones that have no chance
of expanding into a dominant global position, and then establish such
a position for the part that remains. Now, this is a view that you
have already heard before on this very list, and it is present in my
article from last year in the Times Literary Supplement. And I doubt
if I'm the first person to have thought of it. But if it is true then
it will be an amazing phenomenon to watch, and it will have profound
consequences for everyone. An economy of monopolies, global in nature
but relatively narrowly defined. Is this healthy? Does it bear any
relation to the theories of the market economy that economists teach,
newspapers preach, and governments pretend to be guided by. In any
case, the strength of the book is analytical. It is a particular style
of analysis -- it doesn't feel scholarly, and in fact the authors
misuse some technical words. Being consultants, their method is to
generalize from the analyses of their present and prospective
customers, and in so doing they retain a sense of the fine grain and
intensive cultivation of their customers' analyses of their own lines
of business. They have particularly interesting things to say about
the role of intangibles in the new economy. This theme is not new in
itself, of course; it was central to Kevin Kelly's book among others.
What's new is what they do with it. Authors like Kelly can't bring
themselves to face the centralizing, monopoly-creating implications of
their own logic. They really believe that information technology is
inherently a force for decentralization. But McKinsey's customers
would like nothing better than learning how to become a monopoly, and
Bryan and company are not squeamish about the matter at all. They
throw around phrases like "unfair advantage" with no ideological
pretenses or no moral difficulties. By intangibles they mean a broad
and somewhat shaggy range of phenomena, such as social networks, brand
names, intellectual property, and employee talent. What these things
have in common, so far as their argument is concerned, is that you can
use them without using them up. They reward scale. The more global you
get, the more money you make with them. Their most interesting
argument, which I've certainly heard in Silicon Valley but have not
seen generalized into a prescriptive theory before, is that companies
seeking to leverage their intangibles should be "asset light", that
is, they should structure their business as a relatively small firm
that maintains alliances with other firms that bend metal, own things,
face liability, take risk, and so on. A good example would be Intel,
which does own factories, but which is renowned for its ability to
structure relationships with other firms in a way that provides Intel
with all of the profit and the other firms with all of the hassle. The
whole personal computer industry is an example of this: your PC might
be made by an alliance of several different companies, but only Intel
and Microsoft, and I guess Dell though I haven't looked lately, have
major profit margins. Another example is Coca Cola, which owns the
secret formula and brand name but lets its captive bottlers do the
heavy lifting and take the risks associated with particular markets.
This story is no doubt too simple, but it does explain a lot. For
example, it explains the explosion of cross-border mergers in Europe
right after the euro kicked in. It also explains a lot of the merger
action within the United States over the last few years. So now think
about the situation of a country like Bulgaria. Its companies have no
chance of becoming dominant global leveragers of intangibles anytime
soon, and so we can expect them all to be bought out by foreign firms.
Is this good for the Bulgarians or not? Should they resign themselves
to simply angling to get the best terms when they are bought out?
Somehow these are not the exciting questions that one expects to be
asking when using phrases like "global integration".

Recommended: Cristiano Antonelli, Localized technological change
and the evolution of standards as economic institutions, Information
Economics and Policy 6(4), 1994, pages 195-216. This is a smart and
insightful paper about the problems of changing standards in the
presence of switching costs. You're using Apple, the rest of the world
starts using Windows, it will cost you money and effort to change, you
have some sense of the costs and benefits, all of the various vendors
also have a sense of the same thing, everyone makes guesses about
what everyone else is going to do, and the action unfolds from there.
At the end of the analysis, Antonelli presents a list of the factors
that can affect the outcome, and it is impressively both long and
plausible. This paper also appears in a new collection of Antonelli's
papers, The Microdynamics of Technological Change, London: Routledge,
1999. I also recommend Antonelli's own contribution to a book
that he edited: The Economics of Information Networks, Amsterdam:
North-Holland, 1992.

Recommended: Robert E. Goodin, ed, The Theory of Institutional Design,
Cambridge University Press, 1996. This is a useful book about the
design of social institutions, which has become a fashionable topic
in the 1990s as the countries of central and eastern Europe rebuild
their institutions with the help (not always welcome or productive)
of Western scholars. The best paper in this volume is by Claus Offe,
who is best known for ponderous books about the welfare state but
who contributes to this book a very imaginative and useful framework
for thinking about the function and legitimacy of institutions. In
one especially striking image, he refers to social institutions as
the "exoskeleton" of social life inasmuch as they set down formal or
informal rules about what kinds of activities are supposed to take
place where and when. These rules, like all institutional structures,
both enable and constrain. Their constraints are obvious, but they
also make life easier by letting everyone focus on particular areas of
their lives and letting the other areas happen in conventional ways.

Recommended: Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: Learning,
Meaning and Identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. The
phrase "communities of practice" originates with a short book of that
title by Jean Lave and her then student Etienne Wenger. It has become
widely used in recent years, in large part because of the thoughtful
popularizations of John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, who have their
own book on the subject coming out soon from Harvard Business School
Press. The idea is that a community of practice is a social group
that is organized around some activity, prototypically an occupation.
The theory of communities of practice describes how knowledge and
learning is embedded in the community processes, so that, for example,
newcomers enter the community and are progressively socialized into
its ways, including both its skills and its rituals. In recent years
many people have applied these ideas to the study of online community,
and the study of online communities of practice has led to the useful
realization that the distinction of online versus offline does not
make a big difference: most communities of practice have both online
and offline dimensions to their collective lives. So now this, at
last, now that the world is good and ready for it, is Etienne Wenger's
theoretical tract about communities of practice. It is not easy
reading, but it is a deep and sophisticated analysis of various
dimensions of working together and learning together. It will be an
especially valuable resource in the future as people look for more
sophisticated ways in which the Internet can support the patterns
of thinking and working that are cultivated and shared by far-flung

Recommended: James N. Danziger, William H. Dutton, Rob Kling, and
Kenneth L. Kraemer, Computers and Politics: High Technology in
American Local Governments, New York: Columbia University Press,
1982. This unjustly overlooked book, by a group whose members
were then located at UC Irvine, is perhaps the founding study in
organizational informatics, the unjustly overlooked field that uses
serious empirical methods to study of what people in organizations
do with computers. They studied a large sample of American local
governments, and they asked what factors determine the path that
computerization takes in the various contexts. Ethnographic field
methods are strong on questions and statistical survey methods are
strong on answers, so they used both methods. This is remarkable
enough in itself, but what I find most remarkable is the complexity
of the variables that they coded for the various governments, for
example the relative political positions of the various factions
in each organization. To make a long story short, they discovered
that everyone played some role in influencing the directions of
computerization, but that the outcomes of computerization tended
strongly to favor whichever coalition was in power. If the financial
people were in charge, for example, then the financial people got the
major benefits of the systems once they were in place. This may not
seem like such a terribly surprising result, except that it is not
what any of the standard theories would have predicted. Those theories
typically predict that top managers run things, or that the demands
of technological rationalization run things, or that information
technology is a revolutionary force that sweeps away entrenched power
centers. None of those hypotheses was remotely supported by the data.
The authors refer to their result as reinforcement politics. They do
not mean to claim that reinforcement politics will be found in every
workplace in every sector of society. That's not how this kind of
research works. But their results do argue that anybody who studies
the use of computing in organizational settings should at least check
whether reinforcement politics is going on, because if they don't then
they may well be falling for some kind of cover story. It is also
worth wondering how their ideas translate to the much more globalized
process by which packaged software and computing standards are shaped.
Standards in electronic commerce, for example, can easily be biased
to favor one player over another, and it is not completely inevitable
that the technology will revolutionize anything.

Recommended: David G. Messerschmitt, Networked Applications: A Guide
to the New Computing Infrastructure, Morgan Kaufman, 1999. This
is a very good textbook to networked applications for non computer
people. Messerschmitt is a hard-core computer guy at Berkeley, and
this text grew out of a course that he cotaught with Hal Varian for
students in the Berkeley SIMS program. It provides a clear explanation
in plain language of concepts like network protocols, layering,
components, objects, and transactions. I am probably going to use it
for a course on systems analysis and design for information studies
students that I am teaching at UCLA in the spring. Such courses
have historically been based on thought patterns from industrial
automation, but we want to do something more current. My radical
plan, which will presumably get moderated, is to focus the course
on networks not mainframes, and on industrial design not industrial
automation, and on portable and site-specific devices rather than
applications on fixed monitors. We shall see. Messerschmidt's book
is part of a larger movement to train students who are going to be
critical consumers of information technology, so that they can work
with the technical people and put the technical issues in a larger
context of economic, organizational, community, cultural, etc
issues. It also includes a bit of useful economic analysis of the
virtues of layering. Readers of this list will be familiar with the
general idea, which I called the "platform cycle": new layers emerge
from a mass of special-purpose "stovepipe" systems because of the
economies of scope they provide through all of the applications that
can be built on top of them.

Recommended: John McWhorter, The Word on the Street: Fact and Fable
about American English, New York: Plenum, 1998. Those with good
memories (and bad powers of forgetting dumb things) will remember the
flap that erupted at the end of 1996 when the Oakland school board
tried to introduce a program called Ebonics to teach mainstream
English to students who grow up speaking other dialects. The talk
radio brigade used misleading language to make it sound like the
people in Oakland were going to teach in these dialects, encourage
their use in school, and so on, when in fact the goal was to draw
explicit attention to the differences between the dialects so that
the children could learn how their own dialect differed from the
mainstream dialect that they would need out in the world. The school
board people, for their part, engaged in a lot of imprecise rhetoric
about African-American dialects constituting a separate language,
thereby handing all sorts of rhetorical ammo to the permanently
distraught people who believe that there is One Objectively True
Right Answer To Every Question, Namely Mine. Now, if your memory is
especially excellent then you will remember that the only person who
talked any sense during this controversy was a Berkeley linguistics
professor named John McWhorter, who happens to be black and who
happens to have applied the modern tools of creole studies to the
historical analysis of African-American dialects. This is his book
on the matter, and the reason that you have never heard of it is that
his views are certain to make nobody happy.  He affirms that African-
American dialects really are distinct dialects, and that they are not
(for example) just bad or sloppy language. But he also affirms that
African-American dialects really are dialects of English, and not of
any other language. Perhaps most disorientingly, he claims that most
of the distinctive features of these dialects, for example their verbs
(technically, the aspect of their verbs) descend not from African
sources but from English sources -- that is, from the language of
English working-class people in the 17th and 18th centuries. You can
see why nobody is holding parades for the guy. His book includes a lot
of other counterintuitive or otherwise unpopular opinions, such as a
continual and strong assertion of the linguists' creed that there is
no such thing as "good" or "bad" language, just the empirical facts
of how people actually speak. You might have heard on the radio that
relativism and science are opposites, but it's not always so. All of
that being said, his book is also a little frustrating. It is not well
edited, and sometimes repeats bits and pieces. It is also short on
evidence. The modern tools of linguistics are quite technical, and
I can imagine that he wanted to keep the notation out of it. But the
result is that you really have to believe him, rather than making
up your mind for yourself. I found the effect unsatisfying. He also
includes some chapters on other topics that don't fit well into the
whole.  Nonetheless, if you want your assumptions punctured then this
book is a good way to go about it.

Recommended: Norbert A. Streitz, Shin'ichi Konomi, and Heinz-Jurgen
Burkhardt, eds, Cooperative Buildings: Integrating Information,
Organization, and Architecture: First International Workshop, CoBuild
'98, Darmstadt, Germany, February 25-26, 1998: Proceedings, Berlin:
Springer, 1998. An awful lot of technical conferences describe gadgets
that, if they worked, would be bound up tightly with the social world:
gadgets that are portable, that are sewn into clothing, that support
cooperative work or communities, and so on. Most of those conferences
are technology-driven -- they are based on a rough idea of how the
devicse would be used, an idea that is drawn more from plausible
incremental extensions of existing devices than from empirical
investigation. This is one of the relatively few such conferences that
incorporates interesting ideas about the social world. Most of the
papers reach, in one way or another, for an original understanding
of what it means to inhabit a building, and what therefore it
might mean for a building to "cooperate" with its inhabitants.
Some people will be uncomfortable at the idea that the building is
being anthropomorphized, but I don't get the sense that these authors
have gone overboard in that direction. I just got a sense of fresh
questioning about real human issues from this conference proceedings
that I don't usually get from technical work.

Recommended: Susan Leigh Star and Karen Ruhleder, Steps toward an
ecology of infrastructure: Design and access for large information
spaces, Information Systems Research 7(1), 1996, pages 111-134. Even
though it is written in reasonably plain language, this is a demanding
and complicated paper about the deep meaning of "infrastructure". One
conception of infrastructure -- one which, in fact, I falsely ascribed
to these authors in one of the drafts I sent out on my list -- is that
infrastructure is the technology that disappears in the background and
lets real work get done. While this is sort of true, it tends to gloss
over the many ways in which infrastructure structures the work that
it supports. If you get your power from electricity, for example, then
certain configurations of artifacts and methods are practicable, but
if you get your power from gas, then different configurations will
be practicable instead. The particular case that Star and Ruhleder
investigated is an Internet-based "collaboratory" that was intended
to support the work of a large global community of biologists who are
systematically studying a small worm in order to develop methods and
concepts that might scale up to the study of larger organisms later
on. The collaboratory basically failed, and this paper explores why.
The basic reason is that it was too hard to integrate into the diverse
multitude of local work practices in the various worm labs. This leads
into the deep question of the tension between global and local that
is central to the use of networks to support real activities. As their
title suggests, Star and Ruhleder take their theoretical inspiration
from Gregory Bateson, whose own particular version of cybernetics was
based on abstract, in-principle kinds of distinctions such as first-
order learning (learning how to do something) versus second-order
learning (learning how to learn). I have to say that I have never
gotten very much out of cybernetics, partly I think because you can't
appreciate it abstractly, but instead need to apply the concepts in a
sustained way to the analysis of a series of particular cases. That's
what Star and Ruhleder do here, and I'm not quite sure whether the
credit for what they have noticed through their analyses should belong
entirely to them or whether part of it should go (as they intend) to
Bateson. In any case, they notice a lot of interesting things, such
as the ways in which the designers' abstract ideas about worm science
fail to correspond to reality. My favorite example concerns so-called
annotation systems, which have been a favorite of computer scientists
for many years, most recently with the press attention to the Third
Voice system for publishing one's own annotations to other people's
Web pages. Even though this seems like something that people would
want, in fact nobody seems to want it.  This is an interesting
puzzle. What is the problem? Star and Ruhleder's answer, at least in
the case of the annotation system that was provided as part of the
worm collaboratory, is that the scientists need to stay on good terms
with one another, and even more importantly they prefer to publish
their commentaries in journals so that they can get professional
credit for the effort that any serious commenting takes. Annotation,
then, turns out not to be simply a technical concept, but also a
social concept that is embedded in the social system of the worm
scientists. Other communities, organized within the confines of other
institutions, will find that annotation is embedded in some different
set of relationships and incentives. Noticing that sort of thing is
good social science, and it is one reason why one needs good concepts
and critical thinking to do social science well.

Recommended: Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century,
New York: Knopf, 1999. This deservedly celebrated book provides a
sweeping, compelling, and wildly original picture of the history of
Europe in this century. Today we often think of Europe as the home
of democracy, human rights, good living, social welfare, economic
cooperation, and a certain humble if occasionally spineless preference
for sweetness and light. The Nazis? Well, they were an exception.
Mazower will have none of this, and his book adduces a great mass of
evidence, albeit much of it synthesized from secondary sources, to
suggest that Europe's current happiness was very far from inevitable.
The core of the argument is that the Nazis were not an aberration
in the context of early 20th century European society. They were an
extreme expression of that society, to be sure, and as the inherent
logic of their project spiraled into war and the wartime society
spiraled out of control, things happened in the German-controlled
areas that did not happen anywhere else. Nonetheless, all of the
component parts -- antipathy to democracy, scientific quackery made
into social control, racism, and much else -- were nearly universal
throughout the continent, and the people who marched into the Nazi
fold did so against a background of both reality and belief that made
its evil easy to ignore. Much the same was true of the Soviet Union
as well. He is especially interesting on daily life within those
totalitarian regimes, and on which wild theories the people did and
did not believe, and which social control projects did and did not
work, and just how the downward spirals got going when they did not.
Perhaps Mazower's most provocative argument is that many features of
post-war Europe, once the Nazis blew their chance to reorganize Europe
to their own liking through their beastly behavior as occupiers, grew
naturally out of pre-war strands of European thought. The European
Union, after all, is a continent-wide economic zone dominated by the
Germans, just as Albert Speer had planned. Recent revelations also
make clear that the European welfare states did not completely shake
off their eugenicist origins until decades after the war. Much else
about post-war Europe makes sense as a continuous development from
pre-war Europe. I find the book particularly useful as a stimulus to
clear thinking about the contemporary resurgence of anti-democratic
sentiment in the United States, where merely advocating democracy on
the Internet can draw flaming denunciations, and where very much the
same critiques of the legislature that united such otherwise disparate
figures as Carl Schmitt and Friedrich Hayek can be heard articulated
with elaborately vernacular indignation by commercial parties who want
to get government off their backs. America and Europe are different
societies, of course, but it is interesting to reflect on the complex
transformations that European ideas from Anabaptism to Enlightenment
to deconstruction have undergone on their way over here.

Some URL's. I should note that my lists of URL's always start with
the most recent ones. I've been gathering this list for a couple of
months, and so the later URL's might be a little out of date. Once
again most of these URL's come from RRE subscribers, and I appreciate
their effort.

Cyber-Conversation Research

Where the Web Leads Us

Anatomy of a Network Intrusion

Trusted Computing Platform Alliance

An Introduction to the IP Infrastructure

Interview with John Daniel of the Open University

Global Knowledge Partnership

Anarchism Triumphant: Free Software and the Death of Copyright

Library Juice

Internet Content Summit

Local versus Global Electronic Commerce

maps of the Internet

Defect Tolerant Molecular Electronics Algorithms, Architectures, and Atoms

Technoscience, Citizenship and Culture in the 21st Century
Vienna, 27-30 September 2000

proceedings of CPSR domain name conference

Intellectual Property in the Age of Universal Access

very cool eclipse photo

compromise database bill

Corporate University Xchange

report on the CPSR meeting on ICANN

Everything you know about the Littleton killings is wrong

NY Times section on e-commerce

NSI complaint messages hacked by 2600 --very funny

East Timor sites

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

review of "The Weightless World" by Diana Coyle

The Cybercommunist Manifesto

outtakes from Richard Nixon's resignation speech

Current Developments in Internet Privacy

The Coming Software Patent Crisis: Can Linux Survive?

Burn All GIFs Day

Reputation Managers are Happening

Filtering the Internet: A Best Practices Model

Development Informatics

Beyond Black Boxes

Tomorrow's Professor Listserv

Your Rights Online

Defending the Internet Revolution in the Broadband Era

Papyrus News: Global impact of IT on language, literacy, and education

Computer Programming for Everybody

Automatic Wireless Transmission of Serious Injury Probability Ratings

strange court decision claiming privacy invasion is free speech

The Evolving World of E-Tailing,176,355,00.html