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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #99      A Publication of The Nature Institute      December 9, 1999
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                         On the Web: http://netfuture.org
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
       The Alliance for Childhood
    Quotes and Provocations
       Can We Let Children Be Children?
    Technology Literacy
       Draft of guiding principles, and request for comments
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    It's amazing how much email you receive, and from what unexpected places,
    when your picture and story appear in the New York Times -- and are then
    picked up by the San Jose Mercury News, the Cincinnati Inquirer, and
    other papers around the country.  The story, written by NetFuture reader
    Lisa Guernsey, was entitled "Editor Explores Unintended, and Negative,
    Side of Technology", and ever since it appeared in the "Circuits" section
    of the November 25 Times, I've been unable to keep up with my
    correspondence.  Please be understanding if I haven't responded personally
    to your mail.
    By the way, despite an incorrect url for NetFuture in both the online
    version of the Times article and in the Mercury News, the page views
    taken on the NetFuture web site jumped from 20,000 in October to 62,000
    in November.
    One reader of the Times article -- someone I never knew -- kindly wrote to
    pass along a touching story about a high school teacher who deeply
    influenced both of us and subsequently died on a mountain cliff.  It got
    me to thinking about the qualities of this teacher's classroom presence
    and engagement with students that made him such a factor in my life, and
    also about the powerful forces pushing us toward distance education
    today.  It's a troubling juxtaposition of thoughts, and reminds one of the
    many elements in a technological society that make it easy for us to
    sacrifice the most meaningful human connections in favor of the most
    efficiently executed "transactions".  But the efficiency, of course, is an
    illusion if the things we really want are only to be gotten through the
    depth of our encounter with others.
    The Alliance for Childhood
    This issue of NetFuture is devoted to an important new development:  the
    founding of an international Alliance for Childhood.  We present here a
    draft statement on technology literacy, prepared by the Alliance's Task
    Force on Computers in Childhood.  My hope is that NetFuture readers will
    play a leading role in responding to the Alliance's request for comments.
    One of the things that most appealed to me at the founding meeting of the
    Alliance was the guiding metaphor offered by organizer Joan Almon:  We are
    not attempting to build a supertanker, but rather to launch a thousand
    small boats.  At that meeting t