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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                Technology and Human Responsibility for the Future
    Issue #20      Copyright 1996 O'Reilly & Associates           June 4, 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
    *** Technology's recoil
          A note from Thoreau
    *** Changes
          Seeking a heart beyond technology
    *** The illusion of online efficiency (Stephen L. Talbott)
          There is only one exit from the technological arms race
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's note

    As you may have noticed, NETFUTURE postings have become erratic. Unfortunately, my available time has been cut drastically. I'll be continuing to operate on a kind of hit-and-miss schedule until early in July, at which time the SPIDER OR FLY? results will be announced. The item entitled "Changes" below has some further information relevant to NETFUTURE's future.

    One thing I've decided to do in the meantime is to put out rather rapidly, as a sort of stopgap measure, the remaining pieces in my series, "Daily Meditations for the Computer Entranced." Contrary to my original plans, I now intend to publish the entire series on the Web, holding none of it back for other use. This issue contains two of those meditations -- actually, parts 1 and 2 of a single, extended reflection about the mostly nonsensical claim that the Net is a highly efficient communication medium.

    As time and circumstances allow, I will try to gather various pieces of reader feedback into at least one of the June issues.


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    *** Technology's recoil

    Following is taken from Henry David Thoreau's Journal, January 21, 1853. Thanks to Stuart Weeks for bringing it to my attention.

    A few good anecdotes is our science, with a few imposing statements respecting distance and size, and little or nothing about the stars as they concern man; teaching how he may survey a country or sail a ship, and not how he may steer his life.

    Astrology contained the germ of a higher truth than this. It may happen that the stars are more significant and truly celestial to the teamster than to the astronomer. Nobody sees the stars now. They study astronomy at the district school, and learn that the sun is ninety-five millions [of miles] distant, and the like, -- a statement which never made any impression on me, because I never walked it, and which I cannot be said to believe. But the sun shines nevertheless.

    Though observatories are multiplied, the heavens receive very little attention. The naked eye may easily see farther than the armed. It depends on who looks through it. No superior telescope to this has been invented. In those big ones the recoil is equal to the force of the discharge.

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