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  •                                 NETFUTURE
    
                Technology and Human Responsibility for the Future
    
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    Issue #11      Copyright 1996 O'Reilly & Associates         March 21, 1996
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                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
    
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    
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    ####  Don't forget the $5000 SPIDER OR FLY? deadline: April 30, 1996  ####
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    CONTENTS:
    *** Editor's note
    *** Discussions here have been intellectually vacuous (Alain Henon)
          This leads to a danger of political extremism
    *** The Net does not limit our options (Peter Faller)
          Neither is the computer a threat
    *** What is the criterion for human contact? (Carl Wittnebert)
          Cyberspace is a place for mutual trust
    *** Only worthwhile products of technology survive (Mike Fischbein)
          Technology does not constrain our options, but increases them
    *** There is no natural world left (David Petraitis)
          The world is as we make it
    *** Net debates and true believers (Leslie DeGroff)
          Check out Eric Hoffer's books
    *** About this newsletter
    

    *** Editor's note

    I mentioned last time that there had been a spate of disgruntled comment, much of it directed toward your editor. Here you have it, along with one or two more neutral pieces. I offer no response in this issue, but rather will let it soak in for awhile.

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    *** Discussions here have been intellectually vacuous

    From Alain Henon (ah@usenix.org)

    Dear Steve,

    I have been reading NETFUTURE off and on for a few weeks now, often feeling the urge to scream in print, but, until now, succeeding in repressing it. What's the point, I tell myself: these are all religious matters, arguments between those who believe the world is going to hell (not in a handbasket, surely, but in a machine) and those who think Nirvana is just around the corner in the form of the latest greatest electronic box on their desk. Silly.

    However, this kind of silliness can be dangerous, in my opinion. Extreme statements of belief in one or another version of where the world is going and how tend to be all too easily translated into political statements that all who disagree should be somehow "corrected."

    However polite the statements in this forum are thus far (and I suspect you edit out the ruder correspondents) invectives are already flying. People who decide, for whatever reason, not to use some piece of technology are called "monks" (that this should be considered an insult speaks volumes, by the way), while the true believers in the silicon future are called naive.

    Your own statements are extreme. What can one make of a sentence such