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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #49       Copyright 1997 Bridge Communications          May 22, 1997
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    *** Editor's Note
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          The Net As a Failed Shakespearean Enterprise
          What Are Classroom Computers For?
          Speeding up the Classroom
          The Hollowing Out of Children
          Where Are the Investigative Journalists?
    *** Letter from Des Moines (Lowell Monke)
          The Net's Deceit in Teaching Multiculturalism
    *** Announcements and Resources
          Classroom Support for `Computer and Society' Teachers
          Papers: on Seymour Papert, Children As Global Citizens
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's Note

    This issue focuses strongly on education. Don't miss Lowell Monke's firsthand description of how using the Net as a tool for multicultural exposure proves self-defeating. And if you'll be teaching a class next semester about the human and social implications of computing, we've got an offer for you at the end of the newsletter.


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    *** Quotes and Provocations

    The Net As a Failed Shakespearean Enterprise

    The following was gleaned from a medical mailing list. (Thanks to Ed Arnold.)
    We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the Complete Works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.

    --Robert Wilensky, University of California

    What Are Classroom Computers For?

    Should we be wiring every classroom? Neil Postman, who has a knack for capturing large issues with a few commonsensical words, suggests that every teacher should first ask, "Does this solve some problem for me that I am plagued with or annoyed about?"

    Postman, interviewed for the Christian Science Monitor (April 21), then puts a second question beside the first:

    Suppose computers weren't there. Would [teachers] know how to teach students how to think, or have they been waiting all these years until the computer came along to do so?
    And if they could already teach kids to think, why do they need computers?

    There were, Postman reminds us, 91,000 New York students who showed up last fall for whom there were no seats. What is the response of the educational establishment? "They say, `Let's get each classroom wired to the Internet' .... I think that's crazy."

    Postman does believe there's a place for computer technology in the classroom -- "as a serious subject in the humanities." This would entail "studying the history of our relationship with technology and its effects on our psychic habits and social relations."