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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                Technology and Human Responsibility for the Future
    Issue #27      Copyright 1996 O'Reilly & Associates     September 10, 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
    *** Feeling stupid (Paul Griffin)
          The web as a space of disconnection and projection
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's note

    We publish in this issue an essay by Paul Griffin, which was one of the two second-prize winners in the SPIDER OR FLY? writing competition. (The judges awarded only these two prizes, feeling that there were no other sufficiently qualified entries. The non-awarded prize money, as stated in the contest rules, goes to the Wilderness Awareness School of Redmond, Washington.) See the contest page for fuller details.

    NF #26 contained an incorrect email address for Orion magazine. The correct address is orion@bcn.net. In its autumn, 1996 issue Orion will carry the full article by Tom Jay, which we excerpted in NF #26 as "The Placeless, Neighborless Realm."

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    *** Feeling stupid

    From Paul Griffin (griffinp@snycorva.cortland.edu)

    [This essay is a second-prize winner in the SPIDER OR FLY? competition. Paul Griffin teaches English at the State University of New York College at Cortland, where he makes use of the Internet in composition classes. He refuses to admit publicly how many hours he spends each week surfing the net in search of interesting sites. He says that he sees himself as "a cybermoderate, somewhere between the Luddites who dismiss the net as trash and the hucksters who try to make it way more than it really is." And he readily admits that as he confronts his own middle age, he is amazed at the increasingly sophisticated computer skills of the first-year college students he teaches.]

                                   FEELING STUPID

    Forget about cyberspace for a minute and think about underwear. A few years ago, a full-page ad appeared in the Sunday New York Times announcing a new brand of men's undershorts. Picture this image: a close-up shot of a surly looking adolescent, shown from the waist up. The kid's torso is naked, his body adorned only by a long string of wooden beads around his neck and a pair of the company's boxer shorts on his head, in the manner of a pharaoh's headdress. The boy stares straight on into the camera, his expression a suburban, junior-grade equivalent of the one worn by Robert DeNiro's character in the famous mirror scene in Taxi Driver. Bobby, you'll remember, says: "You lookin' at me? You must be lookin' at me, because there's no one else here." If this kid could talk, and the odds on that seem 3-2 against at best, he would be saying: "Yeah? So? Boxe