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  •                                 NETFUTURE
                       Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #56       Copyright 1997 Bridge Communications    September 23, 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
          What Are Televisions For?
          For Whom the Locomotive Rolls
          Don't Worry about Impressionable Youth
          Technology Isn't What It Used To Be
          Education As If the World Mattered
    *** Why All the Fuss about Stockholders? (Marjorie Kelly)
          The right to plunder corporations violates the free market
    *** Announcements and Resources
          Education and Technology: Conference at Columbia University
    *** About this newsletter

    *** Editor's Note

    Don't miss the announcement at the end of the newsletter for a conference on "The Computer in Education," featuring Joseph Weizenbaum, Alan Kay, Fritjof Capra, and others, at Columbia University.


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    *** Quotes and Provocations

    What Are Televisions For?

    In an article about how the Internet/television convergence has less and less to do with Internet access and more and more to do with enhancing the entertainment value of television, the Boston Globe (September 21, 1997) quotes Philip J. Monego Sr., president of NetChannel, Inc.:
    I resent the whole notion of being intellectually challenged by my television set.
    Funny thing; the guy sure sounds intellectually challenged to me.

    For Whom the Locomotive Rolls

    When a 21-year-old woman committed suicide on the railroad tracks of the Sydney Harbor Bridge on September 5, it was rush hour, so officials decided to keep the trains running. Disrupting service would have proven inconvenient.

    Transport officials did subsequently apologize. And, by way of explanation, a spokesman for the Ambulance Service helpfully explained: "It was obvious after a few trains ran over her that she was dead" (Albany Times Union, September 14, 1997).

    He might have added that we'll surely get used to it. After all, we've already learned that the disturbingly red meat of a fresh road kill gets reduced to a bland, barely noticeable gray mat in a remarkably short time.

    I share with the profession of "sophisticated" writers an aversion to drawing the overly obvious moral from a story. But, as someone has said, we live at a time when stating the obvious has become the first duty of every responsible citizen. So here is the moral as I see it: The more complex and interlocked the technological system becomes -- and the more our life rhythms are entrained by the syste