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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #58       Copyright 1997 Bridge Communications      October 22, 1997
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    *** Quotes and Provocations
          Methuselah on Wheels
          You Just Missed It
          Bruce Willis, Information Warrior
          Does Technology Make Us Blind?
    *** Does Information Exist?  (Stephen L. Talbott)
          Only if sexuality does
    *** Announcements and Resources
          Sysops, the Law, and Online Community
          Two Papers:  Media Ecology and Education
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Quotes and Provocations

    Methuselah on Wheels

    In the special issue of the New York Times Magazine dealing with technology (see below), one article was devoted to the "life extension" enthusiasts -- people who are seeking by every available means to stretch the upper limits upon human longevity. Larry Wood, one of the more hardcore eternal lifers, believes that "we could be the first generation that lives forever. Either that, or we'll be the last generation to die."

    Wood takes his prospects seriously. Not about to yield to deathist thinking, he drives around in a huge white truck:

    The vehicle weighs 4,600 pounds. It has a chrome moly-steel roll bar in it. So if some drunk idiot in a 2,500-pound car crashes into me, he's likely to get killed, and I'm likely just to get a few bruises and aches and pains.
    Not exactly a guy I'd want to share a foxhole with.

    You Just Missed It

    The German linguist, novelist, and medievalist, Uwe Poerksen, has written a valuable little book called Plastic Words, in which he relates this story:
    I know an old gentleman who reads newspapers with a ballpoint pen in hand. He reads a great many newspapers and magazines and underlines at the same time; I have had in my hand articles that he had gone over and have wondered on what basis he underlines. Finally it became clear to me that he underlined according to no principle. Almost everything was important to him.

    In his apartment a number of appliances operate simultaneously. When he doesn't want to miss an important radio program and something interests him on TV at the same time, he tapes the radio program. Or vice versa. He is constantly moving between rooms. He never misses the eight o'clock news.

    This is no invention. The gentleman is about seventy-five and has been doing this for a long time. One could of course call him strange. I would say that he has understood something. He has understood what information is. Information is what one has always just missed.

    To whic