Today's notes, by coincidence I like to think, all consist of pointed
criticisms of people, ideas, and institutions that have been bothering
me.  If you're not in the market for negativity today then you should
leave this message for later.

"A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly."
  -- William Gibson, Neuromancer

Every new technology has to be digested by the culture.  It's not
really individuals who figure out what to do with it; it's the culture
as a whole.  People explore the possibilities, complain about the
problems, watch one another, hear stories, and gradually everyone's
tacit sense of proportion settles into a new equilibrium.  The biggest
problem with the Internet is that it's not just a technology but a
platform for the construction of a thousand other technologies --
so many technologies, one after another, that the culture is having
a hard time digesting them all.  This situation is full-employment
legislation for technology reporters, bless them, to such a degree
that I was recently interviewed by a newspaper in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida on the subject of the Dancing Hamsters fad.  But many of the
phenomena that accompany the Internet are too subtle yet for such a
public hashing-out.  There's just this creepy sense that things are
changing.  And often it's hard to define what's changing, inasmuch
the phenomenon isn't "something new", but just a different setting
on an old knob.

Let me tell you some stories that explore one of the many Internet-
related issues that has yet to take clear form.  Our sense of justice
has always been shaped against a tacit assumption of locality: one is
connected by geography or social networks or professional associations
or something to the people with whom one has conflicts.  But the
Internet throws this assumption out of whack by allowing us to enter
easily, effortlessly, into reasonably complicated relationships with
people at great distances.  Few of these relationships are totally
without precedent, so as I say I'm not talking about things that are
totally new.  It's more a matter of calibration.  Accordingly, three
unjust hassles ...

I got a message one day in late 1997 from someone identifying himself
as a reader of RRE, someone who had never written to me before and
who didn't seem interested in a big friendship.  He was just writing
to say that he had been to St. Louis recently, and had seen an article
in a local computer magazine called the PC Journal that was clearly
plagiarized from my "How to Help Someone Use a Computer".  I asked
him to send me relevant photocopies, and he did.  I was pissed.  The
plagiarist, someone named David Eppestine, had done a light once-over
edit on my piece, but the whole structure and premise was the same,
and most of the wording.  It was the first time that I had ever
been plagiarized, and it was a whole new experience.  I called up
the editor of the PC Journal and complained.  She asked for a fax.
I tried to send the fax, found that their fax machine was off, called
her office to ask them to turn their fax machine on, and faxed my
article, which first appeared in the May 1994 issue of The Network
Observer.  Soon thereafter I received a phone call from the PC
Journal's attorney, who right there on the telephone treated me to
a $150-an-hour firehose of negative energy, as if I were the aggressor
in the situation.  In particular, he explained at length just how
difficult it would be for me to sue, given that I would have to
sue them in Missouri, how hard it would be to show that I had been
damaged financially, and so on.  Furthermore, he explained that the
PC Journal was going out of business soon, which made it even more
unlikely to recover anything from them.  But he was willing to send
me $100, "just so my client doesn't keep getting these phone calls
and faxes and letters".  Ahem.

A few days later, I received in the mail a contract from this lawyer,
which is easily the most abusive contract that I have ever seen.  I
quote the most abusive passage: "Furthermore, all parties agree that
in the event Phil Agre improperly discloses any information about
this Agreement or the underlying dispute, the exact amount of damages
cannot be properly ascertained.  Accordingly, all parties agree that
in the event of a breech of the confidentiality portions of this
Agreement, the liquidated damages sustained by David Eppestine and
the PC Journal shall amount to One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), and
that the jurisdiction for enforcement shall be in Missouri".  In other
words, these folks need only walk into a Missouri small claims court
with a rumor that I had breached confidentiality, and I would be on
the losing end by default of a $1000 court judgement.  After a couple
rounds of negotiation, the lawyer managed to run out the clock as his
client went out of business.

What's so offensive here, aside from the plagiarism of my work, is
the impracticality of obtaining any kind of redress at a distance.
Of course, people have been able to plagiarize published work forever.
What feels new here is that my work wasn't "published" -- it was
something that I circulated on the Internet.  When a distribution
system requires a large infrastructure, you can only distribute your
work through a company.  I didn't have a company standing behind me,
or owning intellectual property rights, employing lawyers, experienced
in the matter of intimidating people in St. Louis.  It was just me.
Now some people, specifically David Post and David Johnson, have
suggested that Internet-related long-distance jurisdiction problems
be solved by designating "cyberspace" as a separate place for legal
purposes, so that disputes arising within the confines of cyberspace
can be treated under the rules of whatever cyberspace-bound entity,
AOL for example, mediated the transaction.  But Messrs. Post and
Johnson's theory does not help in the present case.  Mr. Eppestine
and the PC Journal were not bound to me by the rules of any particular
Internet forum, and their offense took place not in cyberspace but
in a paper publication that was circulated in St. Louis.  The Internet
is part of the real world, and most of the disputes that arise in
consequence of activities involving the Internet will be located
partly on the Internet and partly off it.

Let us move along to the second hassle.  In January I received
a message from a person representing something called The Knowledge
Connection, whose signature file read School of Information Studies,
Florida State University.  This person claimed to be helping someone
in the government of Florida organize "a conference for agency heads
and upper level managers on electronic commerce and rights managements
issues", and invited me to speak at it.  After some correspondence
it transpired that the entity that was organizing the conference
was something called the Society for Electronic Commerce and Rights
Management (  Now, I grew up in a world in which being
a "Society" meant something, in which you couldn't be a Society,
at least any Society that I would ever hear about, unless you had
developed a significant amount of social machinery.  Of course,
anybody could call themselves a Society, except that nobody would know
about them except their family.  I simply assumed, therefore, that
this Society was a serious thing.  After all, it has a Web site and

In response to this invitation, therefore, I went to considerable
expense and inconvenience to buy tickets, fly to Tallahassee, and
write both a speech and a newspaper column for the occasion.  ECARM
owed me some money as a result of this, and clearly stated so in a
long e-mail correspondence.  To date, however, I have received only a
small portion of the money.  Instead, I have received from a different
representative of ECARM, who I gather is the business end of the
organization, an endless series of excuses.  And worse.  This guy has
made statements to me that are not true, and he has made commitments
to me that he has not followed through on.  His stories never add
up: they have the money, they don't have the money, they care deeply
about paying me, they can never remember how much they owe me (despite
supposedly being experts on payment systems), on and on.

This has been going on for six months.  The check has supposedly been
lost in the mail at least twice.  On one occasion he told me that the
check had gone out by second-day Fedex on Tuesday, and when it didn't
arrive by Friday he told me that in fact he had given my money to
someone to mail to me, but that the person had disappeared with it.
On another occasion he told me that he had sent me a check, but when
I received the "check" it was only for the aforementioned small part
of the total.  His funniest story, altogether plausible I'm afraid
by now, is that the conference's sponsors thought that his conference
was so poorly organized that they had refused to pay.  He has issued
incoherent accusations, said things that are very hard to believe,
and generally done everything I can imagine except pay me the money
he owes me.  I can't sue these people in Florida, so I'm shafted.

My third story isn't about the Internet but about another culture-
warping technology, cell phones.  For the last year I've had the
misfortune of subscribing to Pacific Bell Wireless cell phone service.
I'm going away for a while, however, so I figured I would cancel the
service and get a better cell phone when I return.  So I called *611,
which is the so-called "customer care" number that one can call for
free from the cell phone.  Actually I did this two dozen times over
several days until, after sitting on hold for ten minutes, I finally
got through.

I said to the gentleman, "I'd like to cancel my cell phone service".
He said, "Alright, I'm sorry to hear that.  Maybe you can tell me
why?"  I replied that the proximal reason is that I am going out
of town for several months, but the underlying reason is that I've
experienced an endless series of problems: missed messages, billing
problems, false busy signals, impossible to get through to customer
service, and at least a dozen major bugs and misfeatures in the
software of the Motorola Select 2000e handset.  He said, very rapidly,
as if it were one long word, "I'm sorry to hear that.  You'll be
getting a final bill in a week to ten d---", whereupon the phone
went dead.  "Hello?"  Yup, it's dead.  At first I figured that we've
been cut off randomly.  So, annoyed at the idea of being on hold for
another ten minutes, I tried to call back.  But I got an error from
the cell phone, "SIM CARD NOT REGISTERED".  The phone would not work.

Being stupid, I didn't figure out what had happened.  I picked up my
office phone and called their 800 number, sat on hold for a long time,
spoke to a different customer service person, told my story, and sat
on hold for a while longer, whereupon she explained that I had been
cut off because the other guy didn't realize that I was talking to him
on the cell phone.  As he had been talking to me, he had been throwing
the switch that turns off my phone service, not having determined (for
example) what date I wanted service cancelled.  This was pretty dumb.
In the analog era, turning off one's phone service took days.  Now it
takes milliseconds.  I got the new person to turn my service back on
until August 10th, but this was a cumbersome procedure that involved
running a credit check on me.  All told, the process of getting my cell
phone service turned off, which should have taken five minutes, took
well over an hour.  At least now I know that my credit records have
been restored from credit-record perdition -- a story for another day.

Reflecting on this story, I recalled the first time that the Pacific
Bell's wireless service went down altogether.  Much like my first
earthquake, it produced in me an uncanny sense of betrayal.  The walls
are not supposed to move back and forth!, says one's inner child.  And
the telephone system is not supposed to go down.  So bad was Pacific
Bell's service that I often found myself having to rethink my daily
routines and design backup plans in case my cell phone wasn't going to
work.  It was ironic: the old AT&T, a regulated monopoly, produced an
extremely robust and reliable system, whereas competition is producing
dreadful service on every front.

But then I realized that it wasn't much of an irony at all.  Yes, the
fine service from the old AT&T monopoly does refute certain simple
ideologies -- the ones that dominate the media.  Nonetheless it makes
perfect sense that competition would produce a lower level of service.
Phone company people have told me that, in their view, based on their
research, AT&T provided, and still provides, a level of service that,
in an economic sense, is too high.  What does it mean for service
quality to be too high?  If it costs more money to provide a higher
level of service, but consumers aren't willing to pay that much extra
money in practice to get the better service, then in economic terms
the level of service is too high.  A competitor can then succeed
by offering worse service for lower prices.  Pacific Bell provides
dreadful service, and its customers presumably complain about it all
day long, but it's entirely possible that Pacific Bell providing the
level of service that the customers are actually willing to pay for.
The customers are complaining, but the customers don't know how much
it would cost to hire smarter customer-service people, build more
robust systems, write decent software, etc.  Wireless phone service,
like any other "carriage" business, is a commodity whose market is
brutally price-competitive, and so corners are presumably cut, just
as they are in trucking, air travel, and other carriage businesses.

This is speculation, of course.  It's equally possible that Pacific
Bell Wireless is simply an organization in permanent chaos, and
that it will be driven out of business as soon as its current crop
of subscribers' contracts runs out.  But I think that the economic
perspective throws a new light on information technology and its
place in society.  Superficially it is a similar perspective to
Perrow's famous theory of "normal accidents", except that Perrow
is talking about organizational pathologies, whereas I'm talking
about an economic mechanism that (one can at least argue) is rational.
Still, we should not be satisfied with the economic analysis either:

  * Poor telephone service has its externalities.  For example, all
    of the people who got false busy signals when they called my cell
    phone number -- a problem that the Pacific Bell people claimed
    never to have heard of before, and that they were totally unable
    to diagnose -- were harmed by the problem, even though they had
    not chosen Pacific Bell.  The innocent parties who are harmed by
    Pacific Bell's poor service are, by this argument, analogous to
    the innocent parties who are harmed by pollution from a factory
    that makes things tath they don't buy.

  * Customers will probably not know the level of service quality
    until they are locked into a long-term service contract, thus
    creating a situation of moral hazard that is somewhat analogous
    to the power of Americans' health maintenance organizations to
    unjustifiably deny treatment once they fall ill.

  * People who reasonably need a higher level of service, for
    example because they need the service to work right in emergency
    situations, are probably out of luck, given the overwhelming
    difficulty of offering multiple levels of service at different

When "risks from computers" arise, we tend to diagnose them as bad
technical design.  That's a comforting way to diagnose them: okay, so
it's our fault as technical people, but at least that means we have
some power over it.  We know how to fix it.  But what if most of the
risks associated with computers are only technical on the surface,
and are actually driven by market forces underneath? If that's true,
and we should find out if it is, then we will have to start looking
at risks differently.  On one hand, we will decide to accept some
risks, the ones that result from the market simply doing its job.
On the other hand, we will be doubly upset at other risks, the ones
that result from market failures such as externalities and incompete
information.   Questions arise.  For example, how will we tell which
risks belong in which category? It's difficult, as the analogous
situation in the economic analysis of law makes clear.  And once we
do figure out the market's role in a given risk, what do we do then?

So those are my three hassles.  What to make of them? There's the
legal question, of course, and the policy question, but my focus here
is cultural: in the long run, even the medium run, the culture will
get used to all of this and adjust accordingly.  We will recognize
that the information business leaks -- Hal Varian, after all, advises
record labels, software firms, and other companies owning intellectual
property not to get obsessed with obtaining zero piracy, but rather
to optimize the total return from their investment in the world as
it is.  We will recognize that anybody can create a Society just by
setting up a mailing list and a Web page, and that neither is remotely
as meaningful as a paper letterhead and a physical storefront were in
the old days; we will get the entrepreneurial mindset and demand to be
paid in cash up front.  And we will accustom ourselves to a world that
is absolutely saturated by information technologies, none of which

I recently attended something called the NSF Workshop on Improving
Undergraduate Education in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences
through Use of Technology, held at NSF's headquarters in Arlington,
Virginia.  I was invited by Art Ellis, a chemist at Wisconsin and
a lovely guy, who wanted me to talk about what can go wrong with
multimedia instruction in the university.  (I'll circulate a draft of
that talk when it's ready -- it consisted of a hundred bullets that I
outlined in my notebook in an all-night marathon at the International
House of Pancakes.) It was an interesting interdisciplinary event, and
pleasant with the non-ironic enthusiasm that most scientists have for
their subject matter.  It's hard to get upset with someone who is just
so excited about organic molecules.  So it was basically a positive
experience, which I hope you'll keep in mind as I proceed to complain
about certain isolated aspects of it.

Specifically, I was upset with the, not to get euphemistic about
it, nonsense that I sometimes heard at this meeting.  This, I hasten
to observe, was equal opportunity nonsense.  It came in three forms:
corporate nonsense, liberal nonsense, and technophile nonsense.

The corporate nonsense came from certain parties who see a business
opportunity in competing with the existing universities through
electronic instructional delivery and distance education.  I have
written about distance education elsewhere, and my point here is
not to evaluate it one way or another.  My point, rather, concerned
the form of rhetoric that was used.  It was public relations rhetoric.
Public relations has an elaborate theory of cognition and language.
For public relations people, thinking is associationistic.  Those who
have taken college psychology courses will know about associationism;
it's a very old theory that says that the mind consists of a pool
of concepts that are connected to one another with various strengths.
So, for example, in American minds the concept "apple pie" might
be strongly connected to "Mom" or "America" but weakly connected to
"aluminum".  This theory was discarded long ago by the psychologists,
but it is nonetheless central to the practice of PR.  Once you realize
this you'll see it everywhere

The attraction of associationism for PR is that it provides very
concrete guidance for the practitioner.  You want good symbols to be
associated to yourself and bad symbols to be associated to the other
guy.  To accomplish this, you create whatever facts and arguments tend
to pry loose certain associations while forming others.  It doesn't
matter if the facts are half-truths and the arguments are twisted,
just so long as they are perceived as sufficiently credible, or
if they create sufficient doubt, among the specific "public" whose
thought processes one is targeting.  This is one reason why public
relations -- not as a general and abstract matter, but in the form
it actually takes today -- is so dangerous: it encourages a primitive
style of thinking in which everything is reduced to vague associations
among vague concepts.

The innovation of contemporary conservative rhetoric in the United
States is to routinize this practice and teach it to millions of
people, but that's a topic for another day.  The point here is that
the proponents of corporate higher education were applying these
techniques to some of the central concepts in public debates on the
matter.  Take, for example, the concept of monopoly.  You will often
hear ideological or entrepreneurial opponents of today's universities
referring to them as a "monopoly".  A couple of the people that I
met at the NSF workshop did this, and I challenged them.  You've got
thousands of universities; where's the monopoly? Faced with this
kind of challenge, they simply shifted from one argument to another,
none of them at all rational.   The monopoly is in accreditation,
one of them said to me condescendingly.  But you've got thousands
of universities, all competing with their own brand of accreditation,
so where's the monopoly? The monopoly is in geography, the other
one said, even though this guy works for a university that draws its
students from all around the world.

These guys were clearly not interested in an intellectually serious
discussion of the matter, but I was both alarmed and curious so I
pressed them.  It seems to me, I said (and as I have said in other
essays here) that the real danger of monopoly comes from their own
type of business plan.  If higher education really is an information
commodity that can be distributed worldwide on the Internet, then it
is quite arguably a natural monopoly in a straightforward sense of the
term.  Faced with this kind of argument, they looked a little worried
and just kept on dancing from one glibly spurious argument to the

Finally, after at least half a dozen go-rounds, I stumbled.  Antitrust
law will solve the problem, one of them said.  I was so stunned by the
brazen silliness of this particular argument that I couldn't instantly
put my finger on the correct response.  The correct response is, "(1)
antitrust law doesn't make monopolies illegal when they are achieved
through economies of scale without anticompetitive practices, and (2)
antitrust law won't kick in until the so-called industry of higher
education has been reduced to an oligopoly of two or three global
mega-universities which together have unprecedented centralized
control over human knowledge".  But my actual response was more like,
"sputter, sputter, like it's good enough to wait until one single
organization controls all of human knowledge and then expect the
Justice Department to fix it?".  I had lost.  And this is what they
were counting on: they had a bottomless stock of these bite-sized
units of sophistry, each working to associate a vague concept of
"monopoly" with the current university system and prevent that same
vague concept from being associated with the system that they hoped
to create and profit from.  Here is the fundamental danger of PR: the
winner is not the most rational arguer, but the one who invests the
most money to create the biggest arsenal of arguments, whether they
make sense or not, all serving to defocus the issues and push to a
predetermined conclusion.

That's what think tanks and pundits do, and that is why their
effects on society are so corrosive.  That's the corporate nonsense.
The liberal nonsense is associated with constructivist education.
Although much good work is done by education professors and
teachers, I happen to dissent from the prevailing consensus in
favor of constructivism.  For those who might not follow such things,
constructivism is the idea that learners need to construct ideas for
themselves rather than swallowing them as indigestible wholes, and
that teaching consists in providing the environments, activities, and
other raw materials that will enable this construction to take place.
Constructivism places great emphasis on the student's own thinking,
the student's own answers, on class discussion, and so on, and great
emphasis against the teacher's imposed view of things.

Americans will recognize constructivism as a manifestation of the
culture wars.  American culture is, to a deeper extent than I think
most Americans even realize, organized by a war between particular
kinds of conservative and liberal worldviews, each of which feeds
itself by railing against the other, and each of which thereby turns
itself into something very close to the stereotype that the other uses
to describe it.  Conservatives are into order and structure.  They
believe in right answers.  They have little regard for the opinions
and development of the individual, except insofar as they conform to
the right answers.  Liberals are against those things.  They believe
that every individual is infinitely unique and valuable, and that
it's much more important to let everyone follow their own path than
to impose anything on them.  But then of course both sides have their
hidden agendas: the conservatives' version of absolute truth always
happens to correspond to their own opinions, and liberals constantly
put people in double binds: believe what you want provided that it's
what I believe.

These patterns are bad enough when they are vented in cultural
politics, but they are really destructive when they are inflicted
on children.  To take a silly example: I read an article a while back
about a suburban soccer league, in which the parents are polarized
between the conservative social engineers who are shrieking at their
kids to compete to the death and the liberal social engineers who want
everyone to make nicey-nice and everyone to be a winner.  In between
them was the soccer coach, a German immigrant who timidly suggested
that maybe the important thing to focus on was soccer skills.  The
effects of this pattern in the public schools, however, are not so
silly.  The public schools go through an endless and downright violent
oscillation of fashion changes imposed by legislatures, so that vast
amounts of energy are invested implementing the latest plan, and the
latest plan, and the latest plan.

So I was most unhappy to encounter liberal-culture-war constructivism
at the NSF workshop.  I mean, I don't want to trash this group, but
I really was taken aback by a workshop full of people, right there in
the headquarters of the National Science Foundation, including several
authentic scientists, delivering in unison a highly practiced chuckle
at the idea of a "right answer" in science class.  Hello? I mean,
yes, it is definitely possible to go overboard with the right answers
by teaching dogma instead of thinking, or by portraying science as
a settled catalogue of permanent truths rather than as a dynamic and
defeasible process.  The kids definitely have to learn how to think
scientifically.  But that's not going to happen unless you eventually
get around to telling them what the answer is!  Of course, real
science teachers tell right answers all the time.  It's kind of hard
to avoid, although I have certainly seen well-trained teachers try.
But the expert consensus in that particular meeting was that the new
generation of high-technology tools for teaching science should not be
organized around any such idea.

The final form of nonsense that I encountered at this meeting was
(what I will call) technophile nonsense.  Rob Kling and Suzanne
Iacono described what they called "computerization movements" --
social movements that promote the adoption of particular information
technologies.  These movements tend to fit a certain profile,
and part of that profile is an almost millennarian worldview that
promises a totally different future and that stigmatizes all dissent
as an expression of the irrational resistance of the decadent past.
And multimedia distance education definitely has a computerization
movement.  I do not mean to say that everyone who supports distance
education is a fanatic, much less that distance education is a fraud.
It's plainly a complicated question.  The problem is that a certain
submovement treats it as a very simple question.

The most characteristic rhetorical device of this movement is the
two-columned table: "from" and "to".  For example, "from teacher-
centered to student-centered".  Whatever that means.  I've seen at
least a dozen of these tables in various professional and popular
articles on the subject, especially ones by consultants and other
promoters of the technology.  See, for example, Michael G. Dolence
and Donald M. Norris, Transforming Higher Education: A Vision for
Learning in the 21st Century, Ann Arbor: Society for College and
University Planning, 1995.  Or see, for a more tragic example, the
version in "Managing Distance Learning: New Challenges for Faculty"
, by Lisa Kimball, a sensible
organizational dynamics person who knows better.  Several things are
obnoxious about these tables.  They are vague, they are stereotypes,
they frequently oppose a worst-case past against a best-case future,
and above all they promise an utter, discontinuous transformation
that just isn't the way the world works.  Kimball's case is especially
interesting given that, once she gets done with the ritual table of
from's and to's, she settles down into concepts of group process that,
as she well knows, are largely independent of technology and do not
change that much.  The tension goes unremarked.

The NSF workshop had several of these tables.  And it's not just the
tables.  The tables are really a kind of instruction manual for a new
rhetoric, and it's the rhetoric that's destructive.  Take the nebulous
opposition between "teacher-centered" and "student-centered" kinds
of learning.  (One does not say "teaching" any more, on the grounds
that learning is a socially necessary activity and teaching is not.
If one does grudgingly recognize the role of a professional who sees
to it that people learn, one calls that person a "learning manager" or
some such foolishness.) The idea is that, in the old world, teachers
just stood up and droned, and the whole thing revolved around them,
whereas in the new world each student will head off in his or her own
totally unique direction, according to his or her own unique interests
and needs.  Sounds good until you try it, and until you really ask
seriously whether the dichotomies describe the reality.  You wouldn't
know from listening to the technophiles that any teacher in the old
world had ever run a discussion section, assigned loosely structured
project assignments, supplemented classes with individually directed
study arrangements, or ever provided students with a reading list.

And what happens in this world where every student heads off in a
different direction? You have no community among the students.  They
can't discuss a common subject matter with one another, for example.
And now the teacher -- I'm sorry, the learning manager -- loses all
of the economies of scale that made it possible to answer questions
without being overwhelmed.  If all of the students are on the same
page, then questions and answers in a group format, whether in person
or online, are likely to contribute to everyone's learning.  But if
everyone goes in their own direction then this is not true.  The point
is not that individual direction is bad and that lectures are good --
although I have no trouble at all admitting that I give lectures.  The
point is that the world has always consisted of a combination of the
full range of options, and that the world will remain a combination
of the full range of options -- unless, that is, the zealots screw it
up.   This is a real possibility, it seems to me, and I want to make
sure that we can talk sense about these things, because they really do

I want to conclude by stating again that I am not denouncing this
NSF workshop in its totality, or even its majority.  Most of it was
perfectly useful.  I had no problem with most of the tools that were
demonstrated, or with most of the ideas that were expressed outside
of these three areas.  And my ideas aren't perfect either.  And, as
I had to emphasize in the question period after my hundred bullets of
things that can go wrong, my purpose is not to discourage innovation
in this area.  Quite the contrary, I want to encourage innovation.
What's old and decadent here is not the face-to-face university,
but rather the same old millennarian ideology of the computerization
movements.   We see it every few years about some technology or other,
and it's always the same.  The danger is that this shallow style of
thinking will greatly narrow the vast, incredible range of options
that the technology makes available, by making only certain of those
options thinkable.

Some URL's.

Steven Jay Gould's terrific 1993 review of "Jurassic Park"

funny article on extreme candy

European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work

BBC World Service

Interception Capabilities 2000

Technical Advisory Committee to Develop a Federal Information Processing
Standard for the Federal Key Management Infrastructure (TACDFIPSFKMI)
(I am not making this up)

The Net Result

Radiocracy conference, Cardiff, 26-28 November 1999

Non-Commercial Domain Name Holders Constituency (NCDNHC)

Design and the Social Sciences: Making Connections
Edmonton, 30 September to 3 October 1999

EDUCAUSE conferences

The Visible Problems of the Invisible Computer

Don Weightman on the broadband wars

hacking into home computers

book price comparison