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  •                                 NETFUTURE
    
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    
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    Issue #44      Copyright 1997 Bridge Communications          April 2, 1997
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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.
    
    CONTENTS:
    *** Editor's Note
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          How Much Enduring Art Is There in Computer Graphics?
          Year 2000 Apocalypse?
          Allowing the World to Change
          Education: Waiting for the Outcry
    *** Surfing Ancient, Homeric Fields (Stephen L. Talbott)
          The Net and secondary orality
    *** About this newsletter
    

    *** Editor's Note

    I'm in need of a Web-worthy PC (and peripherals) for my work on NETFUTURE. If your organization has such a beast and could contribute it to a nonprofit, tax-exempt institution, please get in touch with me at stevet@netfuture.org.

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    *** Quotes and Provocations

    How Much Enduring Art Is There in Computer Graphics?

    In the February, 1997 issue of ACM Computer Graphics, Bruce Sterling responded to a question about the relation between art and computer graphics. He pointed out the ephemerality of the medium (will today's digital work of art be accessible via the disk drives, programs, and standards of twenty-five years from now?), and then went on to ask:
    And what is going on, exactly, with computer graphics' unhealthy graverobbing tendencies? What is this eerie insistence on appropriation and mutation, cutting and pasting, swiping and wiping? How come so much computer art is scanned up, and scammed up and done on the cheap? You'd think that absolute control over every pixel, and a palette of zillions of colors, and form-generation programs of unheard-of sophistication -- that all this would allow artists to create imagery of absolute novelty, images never seen before, amazing images, world-shattering images. Well, where is the stuff? Teapots, chessboards, rotating logos, chromed everything, glass bubbles and sci-fi monsters. Why is it that computer artists seem to have so little to say?
    Good question, pointing us back to the truism that having technologies for communication and expression is not the same thing as having something worthwhile to say. At least, one hopes it is still a truism; it's amazing how quickly the obsession with technical glitz can make us forget simple truths. (Thanks to John Thienes for passing along the article.)

    Year 2000 Apocalypse?

    It's becoming clear (even to formerly blase types like me) that strange and awful possibilities are constellating themselves round the "year 2000 problem." The more closely experts look at large, time-sensitive software systems, the more they are reporting back (as Bank-Boston's chief technology oficer did in the March 8 Economist) that "what we found was terrifying." That particular bank's information systems, accordi