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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                Technology and Human Responsibility for the Future
    Issue #6           Copyright 1996 O'Reilly & Associates   February 6, 1996
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    *** Editor's note
    *** WWW or MMM?  The Specter of Multi-media Mediocrity
          A Web pioneer asks:  Can the flood of cyber junk be halted?
    *** Flamers as guardians of the Net's purity
          An absurd view receives an absurd reinforcement
    *** A quick guide to the politics of cyberspace (Richard Sclove)
          What are the cyberlibertarians missing?
    *** Laying Rubber, Flame Wars, and Responsibility (Carl Wittnebert)
          In defense of traditional virtues
    *** I feel fine (Scott Lopatin)
          The migration to a higher self has started
    *** The limits of adaptation and mastery (Christopher Frankonis)
          How much responsibility do we bear for the technological future?
    *** The Internet and the Soviet collapse (Michael Kudryashev)
          Soap operas would have been more effective
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's note

    If you read nothing else in this issue, be sure to read Richard Sclove's "A quick guide to the politics of cyberspace." You don't have to sit where Sclove does on the political spectrum (I don't) to see that he's put his finger on a whole range of critical issues. Sclove is director of the Loka Institute, and this is the beginning of a multi-part interview -- the first of a number of interviews with key thinkers that we'll be publishing.

    Everyone involved in the debate over social policies governing cyberspace should read this interview. Please forward it as appropriate.

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    *** WWW or MMM? The Specter of Multi-media Mediocrity

    According to T. Matthew Ciolek, "the unparalleled flowering and growth of the World Wide Web may ultimately prove to be a curse rather than a blessing." The problem, according to Ciolek, lies in the inherent, near-chaotic dynamics of the Web, combined with mismanagement. Examples of the latter include:

    "[The] abysmal and wasteful replication of effort by different parties claiming to be the Internet's main site for a given field of specialization; lust and carelessness bordering on promiscuity with which maintainers of Web pages establish links to other related (and frequently unrelated) sites and pages; and labyrinthine circularity of links, forcing readers to jump for minutes on end from site to site in search of a server that publishes its own data instead of pointing to other catalogs."

    Ciolek--who offers these observations in the IEEE's Computer, vol. 29, no. 1 (January, 1996)--speaks with some authority. He is the architect and administrator of the world's oldest and largest social science and humanities FTP site (ft