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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #59       Copyright 1997 Bridge Communications      November 4, 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
          NETFUTURE needs a new home
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          Computer-prompted Senate?
          Teaching Children To Stalk the Wild Information
          From Couch Potato to Desk Potahto
          Does Technology Set Us Free?
    *** Distributing Big Brother's Intelligence (Stephen L. Talbott)
          It was easier when we knew who the enemy was
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's Note

    Tortoise-like, NETFUTURE has passed the 4000-subscriber mark. Insignificant, of course, by mainstream media standards, but the steady progress (mainly by word-of-mouth) is nevertheless satisfying. If I were not committed to preserving subscriber privacy, I would share with you a snapshot of the readership. NETFUTURE folks are key figures in academia (especially media and technology studies), policy-making, education, journalism, and of course, the high-tech industry. Perhaps most gratifying has been the number of computer hardware and software engineers who have written to me about their efforts to transcend the narrow terms of the standard computer-science education and bring a more human-centered perspective to their vocation.

    An immediate need: O'Reilly & Associates is discontinuing its list server. I have to find a new home for NETFUTURE as soon as possible -- preferably a stable one with a long life expectancy, a reliable list server, and first-class technical support. (Since there is only one posting every week or two, the load imposed by NETFUTURE is not heavy.)

    If your organization might be able to help, please contact me (stevet@netfuture.org). Thanks.


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    *** Quotes and Provocations

    Computer-prompted Senate?

    American readers doubtless noted the recent flap concerning personal computers on the Senate floor. Senator Diane Feinstein, defending the prohibition rule, argued that "when you're speaking on the Senate floor, you should be speaking from a lifetime of experience." Senator Robert Torricelli envisions the electronic notebook leading to "staff instructions on voting and the scripting of all remarks."

    The online crowd's insulted outrage was, of course, predictable. Brock Meeks, drawing upon the argument-settling powers of the word "information" (see NF #58), was able to dispose of the issue with a single, facetious sentence:

    God forbid our senators should tap into a wealth of information to make informed decisions. (Upside, November, 1997, p. 81)
    As if the problem were