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young, alert student and a zany professor
team up to decipher the first messages
from the Chromes.
by Joseph Corrado
Prayer for the New Year
In this new year, a new age of loving
kindness and generosity of spirit, I imagine living in the fullness
and richness of my Being. I imagine experiencing the World through a
Being that is Whole and self-contained, manifesting Love and good
cheer, living in Truth, surrounded by Beauty. I imagine expressing my
Soul through Poetry and Music and Dance. I pray for the willingness
and capacity to embrace God's great gifts and to share them in
laughter and song.
Dear God, help us to sing out the love
in our hearts and to drink in all of your Blessings with gratitude and
acceptance. Please dear God, grant us a beautiful voice to sing your
praises. Dear God please grant us a tapestry of contentment—the
inner wisdom, strength, and creativity to weave the tapestry of our
lives that we so yearn for.
As we dance into this new era of joy
and peace in harmonious contentment, may God fill us and our loved
ones with mirth, with health, with all the amazing graces that this
magical world offers us.
I seem to remember a feeling like this
from long ago…
vague, like a strain of some ancient melody
still carried by the wind.
Straining to hear it,
to discern its colors,
I begin absorbing waves
of undulating emotions
that draw me out,
beckon me close,
envelop me like a skin I once wore.
I caress myself back into that skin
knowing it to be the self I once was.
Look! It's me, becoming Myself once more.
Surely there is something to be said about the kind of day
when an old dog lies content in the dooryard dozing,
his arthritic body in autumn sunlight stretched full length
across the faded rag rug, ears and tail flopped over on the cool
the kind of day
that brings an occasional bird to the feeder
a breeze that
carries the fragrance of late-blooming herbs
someone's open window the sound of a well-practiced violin.
Surely there is something to be said about that kind of day,
AT THE EDGE OF A CHANGING
The woman sits alone, waiting.
Her tired feet like loaves of rising bread
spilling over their pans stretch out
in front of her at rest on a wooden crate.
The gate to the lane stands part way open
as if to beckon the darkness, its peeling paint
and rusted hinges reflecting the day's last light.
Not accustomed to engaging with twilight
the old woman feels its clouded tension creeping
into her gnarled, folded hands
while in her mind a dozen limber arms
flail desperate for something to hold on to.
Behind her the house looms in shadow
familiar yet vaguely undefined.
She shivers, reminded that hovering
darkness carries its own chill. Pulling
her sweater closer she feels illumined by the glare
of headlights from the car coming to take her
to visit him at the place where those who leave
all have the same destination.
The woman struggles to her feet, clutching
her worn black pocketbook and today's communion
vessel, a small jar of carefully strained
Looked at a Man I Had Known for a Long Time
For an in-moment I saw
Buried deep within those dark
Which lead to the inward man.
There was a loneliness there
Like the dead grays and browns that
Along the winter gutter—
It was saying: "Where?
He melted to a Van-Dyke
Shade, leaving just an inward shape
Which I should have seen sooner.
Somehow it was like…like…
Just as in a sudden thaw,
Of the thing snow-buried (in
unsuspecting guise) yearns
For the fullness of its plan.
From the murky depths
in continuing rhythmic movement
emanating from within
she greets with grace
clear, faceless face
Her music sounds the space
in sweet cadence
creating harmonic tones
the ever-present changing place
where joyful beings
breathing as one…each
and as we…one
in constant dynamic motion
toward renewed realities
the relativity of
and the universal promise
by B. R.
are days of outrage and conspiracy theories. Everywhere I
turn, I am bombarded with high pitched whining about the
revelation. It's not easy to step out of the way in this age
of sound bites and digitally altered video images.
since the fiasco of election 2000 coverage, I cannot sit
through the evening news without alternate feelings of
outrage, paranoia, and despair. Instead of giving me
information from alternative points of view that I can
critically consider, the media seem to present the most
provocative, seductive, or threatening take on any story. And
everything ends up seeming somehow sordid and perverse.
step in the stream
but the water has moved on.
The page is not here.
there is the Internet, the great equalizer. Just about any
zany with a theory can inform me about it at the speed of
light. My daily routine now includes sorting through and
trying to make sense of a hefty volume of electronic-mail
warnings about ever-so-brief opportunities and
ever-so-immanent dangers. I have found the adage of pundit
Esther Dyson to be true: "the Net is great for conspiracy
but terrible for propaganda."
While the information frenzy on
the Internet might give the impression that the pace of change
has accelerated, it's more likely true that the Web has simply
removed natural barriers between people and the information
they would otherwise never see. It's always been out there,
but now it is easily accessible. As we lurch from one bit of
info to the next, we must keep reminding ourselves that just
because it's available does not mean it's important, accurate,
useful, or valuable. Because anyone can and seemingly everyone
does publish on the Internet, the responsibility for quality
control is on the receiver. What is particularly frightening
to me is that some people readily accept information obtained
through a computer screen as somehow more reliable than that
from any other source.
Paradoxically, for others, the
attraction of the Internet is its independence from authority.
The lack of centralized quality control and the expansion of
access may nurture the democratic process, but it requires a
degree of responsibility and a commitment of time on the part
of users to judge the quality and accuracy of sources. It is
through deep reading and thought that we discover the truth in
information. The Web encourages breadth over depth. As with
any information source, critical information literacy is
Is ready access to all this
information improving the quality of our lives? In his
landmark book, Data Smog, David Shenk, considers the
dangers of information overload. He says, "At a certain
level of input, the law of diminishing returns takes effect;
the glut of information no longer adds to our quality of life,
but instead begins to cultivate stress, confusion and even
According to some psychologists
and researchers, "data smog" is the newest culprit
in brain drain. Research suggests that the "data
smog" that bombards us every day may be making us ill by
interfering with our sleep, sabotaging our concentration, and
undermining our immune systems. David Lewis, Ph.D, a British
psychologist, calls the malady "information fatigue
syndrome." He says that the fast flow of facts motivates
people to a point, but once it pushes past a critical
threshold, our brains rebel and we experience "paralysis
Technologies are not neutral.
great misconception of our time is the idea
that technologies are completely free of bias
-- that because they are inanimate artifacts,
they don't promote certain kinds of behaviors
over others. In truth, technologies come
loaded with both intended and unintended
social, political, and economic leanings.
Every tool provides its users with a
particular manner of seeing the world and
specific ways of interacting with others. It
is important for each of us to consider the
biases of various technologies and to seek out
those that reflect our values and aspirations.
The Internet is revolutionary, but not
Net is an extraordinary communications tool
that provides a range of new opportunities for
people, communities, businesses, and
government. Yet as cyberspace becomes more
populated, it increasingly resembles society
at large, in all its complexity. For every
empowering or enlightening aspect of the wired
life, there will also be dimensions that are
malicious, perverse, or rather ordinary.
Government has an important role to play
on the electronic frontier.
to some claims, cyberspace is not formally a
place or jurisdiction separate from Earth.
While governments should respect the rules and
customs that have arisen in cyberspace, and
should not stifle this new world with
inefficient regulation or censorship, it is
foolish to say that the public has no
sovereignty over what an errant citizen or
fraudulent corporation does online. As the
representative of the people and the guardian
of democratic values, the state has the right
and responsibility to help integrate
cyberspace and conventional society.
standards and privacy issues, for example, are
too important to be entrusted to the
marketplace alone. Competing software firms
have little interest in preserving the open
standards that are essential to a fully
functioning interactive network. Markets
encourage innovation, but they do not
necessarily insure the public interest.
Information is not knowledge.
around us, information is moving faster and
becoming cheaper to acquire, and the benefits
are manifest. That said, the proliferation of
data is also a serious challenge, requiring
new measures of human discipline and
skepticism. We must not confuse the thrill of
acquiring or distributing information quickly
with the more daunting task of converting it
into knowledge and wisdom. Regardless of how
advanced our computers become, we should never
use them as a substitute for our own basic
cognitive skills of awareness, perception,
reasoning, and judgment.
Postman, chairman of the department of communication
and culture at New York University, thinks that what
started out as a liberating stream has turned into a
deluge of chaos. Way back in October 1990, in a speech
to the German Informatics Society, he said he thought
we were "informing ourselves to death."
from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to
the silicon chip in the twentieth has amplified the
din of information, until matters have reached such
proportions today that for the average person,"
Postman argues, "information no longer has any
relation to the solution of problems. The tie between
information and action has been severed."
Information is now a
commodity that can be bought and sold. It is used as a
form of entertainment.. It comes indiscriminately,
directed at no one in particular, disconnected from
usefulness. We are glutted with information, drowning
in information, have no control over it, don't know
what to do with it.
Dr. Postman posits that
there are two reasons we do not know what to do with
it. First, we no longer have a coherent conception of
ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one
another and our world. We no longer know where we come
from, where we are going, or why. That is, we don't
know what information is relevant, and what
information is irrelevant to our lives.
Second, we have
directed all of our energies and intelligence to
inventing machinery that does nothing but increase the
supply of information. As a consequence, our defenses
against information glut have broken down; our
information immune system is inoperable. We don't know
how to filter it out; we don't know how to reduce it;
we don't know to use it. According to Postman, we are
suffering from a kind of cultural AIDS.
Is the world in which
we live very nearly incomprehensible to most of us? Is
it true that we are willing to entertain the notion of
almost any fact, actual or imagined, because we have
no comprehensive and consistent picture of the world
with which to compare it that could render it an
unacceptable contradiction? Do we believe because
there is no reason, no social, political, historical,
metaphysical, logical, or spiritual reason, not to
believe? Perhaps the computer just distracts us from
facing what we most need to confront, i.e., that we
live in a world that, for the most part, makes no
sense to us.
In her book, Release
2.0, Esther Dyson points out technology has, and
will continue to, fundamentally impact our lives and
institutions, but it will do little to change our
natures. Even as dependence on, and addiction to, our
machines has increased exponentially over past 100
years, our need for community, family, meaningful
work, and dignity has changed little over the past
1000. In fact, it could be argued that most of our
societal ills could be traced to the loss of these
things, not on our lack of access to gadgets and
So what are we seeking?
The truth is, what ails us, what causes us the most
misery and pain, at both personal and social levels,
has nothing to do with the sort of information made
accessible by computers. The computer and its
information cannot answer any of our fundamental
questions or provide an organizing moral framework.
Maybe what we are seeking is a way to make our lives
more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot tell
us what questions are worth asking and using computers
will not make us wiser, more decent, or more noble. In
this age of vast and instantaneously available,
digitally-enabled information, the highways to
knowledge of ourselves, each other, and our world
apparently are still the ones less traveled.
* * *
Wiring the schools will not save them.
problems with America's public schools -- disparate
funding, social promotion, bloated class size,
crumbling infrastructure, lack of standards -- have
almost nothing to do with technology. Consequently, no
amount of technology will lead to the educational
revolution prophesied by President Clinton and others.
The art of teaching cannot be replicated by computers,
the Net, or by "distance learning." These
tools can, of course, augment an already high-quality
educational experience. But to rely on them as any
sort of panacea would be a costly mistake.
Information wants to be protected.
true that cyberspace and other recent developments are
challenging our copyright laws and frameworks for
protecting intellectual property. The answer, though,
is not to scrap existing statutes and principles.
Instead, we must update old laws and interpretations
so that information receives roughly the same
protection it did in the context of old media. The
goal is the same: to give authors sufficient control
over their work so that they have an incentive to
create, while maintaining the right of the public to
make fair use of that information. In neither context
does information want "to be free." Rather,
it needs to be protected.
The public owns the airwaves; the public should
benefit from their use.
recent digital spectrum giveaway to broadcasters
underscores the corrupt and inefficient misuse of
public resources in the arena of technology. The
citizenry should benefit and profit from the use of
public frequencies, and should retain a portion of the
spectrum for educational, cultural, and public access
uses. We should demand more for private use of public
Understanding technology should be an essential
component of global citizenship.
a world driven by the flow of information, the
interfaces -- and the underlying code -- that make
information visible are becoming enormously powerful
social forces. Understanding their strengths and
limitations, and even participating in the creation of
better tools, should be an important part of being an
involved citizen. These tools affect our lives as much
as laws do, and we should subject them to a similar
Principles of TechnoRealism were first published
on-line at MEME on March 11,1998 and are still posted
on the Web site www.memex.org.
This "set of declarations" was written by a
group of 11 prominent journalists in the computer
industry. According to David S. Bennehum, editor of
MEME and first-listed author of the document, this
"set of principles was meant to go beyond the
bi-polar visions of cyber-utopianism and neo-Luddism."
The work was signed as a show of support by thousands
but it received some scathing opposition in the press.
to its authors, "Technorealism demands that we
think critically about the role that tools and
interfaces play in human evolution and everyday life.
Integral to this perspective is our understanding that
the current tide of technological transformation,
while important and powerful, is actually a
continuation of waves of change that have taken place
throughout history. Looking, for example, at the
history of the automobile, television, or the
telephone -- not just the devices but the institutions
they became -- we see profound benefits as well as
substantial costs. Similarly, we anticipate mixed
blessings from today's emerging technologies, and
expect to forever be on guard for unexpected
consequences -- which must be addressed by thoughtful
design and appropriate use.
technorealists, we seek to expand the fertile middle
ground between techno-utopianism and neo-Luddism. We
are technology "critics" in the same way,
and for the same reasons, that others are food
critics, art critics, or literary critics. We can be
passionately optimistic about some technologies,
skeptical and disdainful of others. Still, our goal is
neither to champion nor dismiss technology, but rather
to understand it and apply it in a manner more
consistent with basic human values."