3
Societal Implications

Digital convergence is expected to transform every field and every aspect of U.S. society, from business and education to health care and libraries, from the structure of the nation's economy and laws to the psychology of the individual. Samuel Ginn observed: "At a minimum, [digital convergence] is going to impact how we work and play, and that is to say that it's going to affect our standard of living. Indeed, it will influence our competitiveness as a nation. It's going to influence how we relate to one another, how we educate ourselves, how we administer health care, how privacy is protected. Even the whole concept of national sovereignty is going to have to be dealt with."

Advanced communications services, fostered by digital convergence, are seen by many as key contributors to social and economic prosperity (Egan and Wildman, 1992). Several trends make this possible, including the development of powerful new technologies, growing pressure to address social problems such as inadequacies in public education and rising health care costs, and a new appreciation among businesses, other organizations, and analysts of the role of information and communications in economic productivity (Egan and Wildman, 1992). The Internet demonstrates some of the possibilities: for example, there are a growing number of efforts (e.g., OncoLink from the University of Pennsylvania) to use the Internet as a kind of electronic "Patient's Desk Reference"—a source of hard to find or anecdotal information for people with rare or serious diseases such as cancer or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—or for self-help discussion (Bulkeley, 1995; Foderaro, 1995); there are the network pedophiles (among the first, it would appear, to exploit both the anonymity possible through electronically mediated conversations and the vulnerability of precocious adolescents);



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3 Societal Implications Digital convergence is expected to transform every field and every aspect of U.S. society, from business and education to health care and libraries, from the structure of the nation's economy and laws to the psychology of the individual. Samuel Ginn observed: "At a minimum, [digital convergence] is going to impact how we work and play, and that is to say that it's going to affect our standard of living. Indeed, it will influence our competitiveness as a nation. It's going to influence how we relate to one another, how we educate ourselves, how we administer health care, how privacy is protected. Even the whole concept of national sovereignty is going to have to be dealt with." Advanced communications services, fostered by digital convergence, are seen by many as key contributors to social and economic prosperity (Egan and Wildman, 1992). Several trends make this possible, including the development of powerful new technologies, growing pressure to address social problems such as inadequacies in public education and rising health care costs, and a new appreciation among businesses, other organizations, and analysts of the role of information and communications in economic productivity (Egan and Wildman, 1992). The Internet demonstrates some of the possibilities: for example, there are a growing number of efforts (e.g., OncoLink from the University of Pennsylvania) to use the Internet as a kind of electronic "Patient's Desk Reference"—a source of hard to find or anecdotal information for people with rare or serious diseases such as cancer or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—or for self-help discussion (Bulkeley, 1995; Foderaro, 1995); there are the network pedophiles (among the first, it would appear, to exploit both the anonymity possible through electronically mediated conversations and the vulnerability of precocious adolescents);

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there are the first "experiments" with attempts to use the great efficiency of the information distribution capabilities of the Internet for advertising—and the first squeals of protest from those who (probably rightly) see a whole new world of electronic junk mail opening up; there is an Internet "radio station" broadcasting music from Santa Cruz, California, and beginning to strain the current limits of copyright law and performance; and there are merchants ranging from a small used clothing store in Los Gatos, California, with World Wide Web/Mosaic access through which customers can query a database regarding available stock, to Digital Equipment Corporation, which derived some $100 million worth of sales for a particular product line from publishing product literature and enabling benchmark testing over the Internet.1 Although many activities and products will not change, there will be new options in various arenas, and corresponding changes in market share for options on how to spend time as well as money. The frenzy of activity and "hype" noted in Chapter 1 points to the problem of differentiating a long-term vision from unrealistic promises of near-term products. The expectation for change in many quarters raises questions about what can be done as a nation and a people to learn from past mistakes with other media. Discussion at the colloquium underscored a fundamental reality: while many executives and scholars recognize the potential for achieving social good, actual offerings of goods and services will depend on what sells, and perhaps as well on some broader vision of what is possible. While the profit motive is expected to promote multimedia programming for entertainment and various business applications, many colloquium participants emphasized the importance of developing other applications (e.g., for health and education). Their reasons were cultural, intellectual, and altruistic, and, in the context of debate over telecommunications policy reform, politically astute. By way of illustration, Richard Notebaert outlined a number of applications of telecommunications and information infrastructure to the improvement of health care. For example, the Wisconsin Health Information Network (WHIN) enables at least seven hospitals, over 250 doctors, and insurance companies to send and receive patient information electronically, through the public network.2 3 While such experiences arouse interest in advancing the information infrastructure, the goal of maximizing benefits for health care, education, and libraries as well as more business-oriented domains raises practical questions of how to achieve sufficient scale, affordability, and interoperability. Perhaps the most important theme of the colloquium discussions was the recognition by technologists, industrialists, and social scientists that there is no one way that digital convergence technologies and applications will or must develop. This variability is a principal reason that the social consequences of new media are among the most difficult of all effects to predict. Who, for example, would have predicted the emergence of "The Patriot Network" of the 1990s (Farley, 1994), which links ad hoc citizen militias, based on looking at the

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uses and users of networking as a preferred means of communication in the 1970s and 1980s? The existence of alternative paths for development of content and programming and for the mechanisms by which they are delivered will allow a variety of businesses to emerge and grow. Public policy, in turn, can affect the appeal of specific alternatives. This chapter outlines some of the social issues raised by digital convergence. It focuses on issues where colloquium discussion clustered, including the enhanced flow of information, the shape that technology and applications may take, and the contrast between multiuser games and education as instances of the use of digital convergence technology. The chapter is intended to illuminate areas where choices by industry, consumers, and government will influence the benefits received from digital convergence. THE FLOW OF INFORMATION Even excluding entertainment, the proliferation of computing systems and their integration with communication systems has led many to predict that people will increasingly face a deluge of information. The human information processing system clearly is limited in capacity, leading many to wonder how growing information processing burdens will affect society. The social phenomena associated with TV and radio (e.g., the emergence of the "couch potato" in modern society) seem to signal a risk of potentially stupefying effects of sensory signal overload. The tighter integration of entertainment will compound that situation by providing more attractive packaging and delivery as well as more creative forms for that information. Eli Noam remarked that the challenge will be to sort through all the options. To date, he observed, computers generally have been used to produce new information rather than to manage it. He predicted that the technologies and business of systems integration will help process and reduce the glut of information. Others speculated about a need for wholesale rethinking of the business, public policy, and cultural aspects of information generation and management. Most elaborate in his analysis was Richard Lanham, a professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles, who called for a "new economics of human attention" (a somewhat different usage than customary in psychology). Information used to be more difficult to locate and assimilate in commonly available raw and often bulky formats, but no longer: technology is facilitating access to information. Today, the rarest fundamental resource is human attention, which gives information meaning and direction. Lanham's use of the word "economics" emphasizes the problem of allocation of attention as a scarce resource. As the market for multimedia products develops, manufacturers must analyze human attention structures to learn what sells. Thus, the filmmaker and the literature professor who are skilled in getting attention, whether from viewers or

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students, assume central roles in the new economics. "What is converging is not only the technology of digital computation with the technology of mass entertainment. A larger conversion has occurred. … The arts barter the crucial economic good—attention," Lanham said, principally because digital-electronic expressive space differs from the printed page and analog-based icon and sound. Lanham argued that it is time to rethink and reorient our approach to the information marketplace—in terms of both structure and social implications. "We have to bring the new economics of human attention to focus—now," Lanham advised. "We can't afford to study the problem to death." In defining the economics of human attention, Lanham outlined five fundamental differences between print and digital information: Print, being fixed, is more authoritative than digital information, which is volatile, interactive, conversational. The transition from print to pixel alters the text from a two-dimensional printed surface to a three-dimensional mixture of word, image, and sound, and thus requires a new mix of human attention skills. These new skills introduce the process of modeling, with dramatic results. The viewer is encouraged to contemplate "what ifs." The meaning of "originality" changes radically, with the result that current intellectual property law becomes obsolete. (This issue is discussed below in the section "Intellectual Property Issues.") Finally, as ideas move into the rich space and sounds of digital expression, human motives change, with competition and play animating practical purpose in a fundamentally new way. This particular concept appears to emphasize the positive contributions that entertainment may bring to otherwise more serious endeavors. As discussed below in "Entertaining Education," however, achieving a net positive effect will not be automatic. To benefit the most from digital convergence, society must acknowledge and respond to these transitions, Lanham warned. In education, for example, Lanham argued that the campaign to improve literacy is based on the old economics: no multimedia-based attention structure has yet been chosen to replace the traditional textbook, and there has been no accord on how to train librarians, or how to reconceive school "buildings" now that information is disembodied rather than fixed. Nevertheless, there are indicators that these conditions may be changing, however slowly (CSTB, 1994b). There is, for example, a substantial corpus of work developing on "constructive learning," which does begin to challenge the centrality of the hardbound textbook and does begin to explore and exploit new ways to "manage attention" through, for example, use of simulation and "construction environments." Experiments with electronic publishing and the elements of digital libraries may provide other examples. Lanham identified two fundamental barriers to addressing such issues. The

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professional barrier, recognized by a number of colloquium participants in other contexts, is the rare and awkward nature of communication among the various disciplines involved. That challenge was noted by musicologist Robert Winter in commenting on his demonstration of multimedia music exploration applications: "I almost never do this in front of musicians. They're converted and they love it and they go do it. I preach to surgeons and physiologists and groups like this because what I'm addressing here and what Bob [Stein] showed you in his very exciting new projects are issues that are cross-platform, cross-discipline, cross-whatever." The second obstacle is cultural. At one extreme is the camp that resists transforming the arts into commodities, while the opposing contingent seeks to maximize profits above all. "Just networking these two warring camps together is no solution," Lanham said. "Optical fiber, no more than twisted copper pairs, cannot heal a religious war." Diversity of Information Robert Stein of Voyager related the influence of profit-making strategy to the level of diversity in the information products delivered, building on his status as a publisher in both entertainment and education as well as on his personal philosophy. He said multimedia software appears to be developing along two tracks, the movie model and the book model, with the former prevailing. That is, Hollywood movie companies and game companies, and some traditional publishers, are focusing on expensive, large-scale productions—equivalent to movies costing tens of millions of dollars to produce. As a result, the number of U.S. films produced is limited;4 the figure has been consistent at about 300 a year, Wildman has written (Wildman and Siwek, 1988). By contrast, approximately 150,000 new book titles are published in the United States each year,5 thereby ensuring diversity in the marketplace. "It is extremely important in society to have this breadth and diversity of material," Stein said. "Wouldn't it be a shame if there were only dozens of new things produced in new media and that was how our entire culture was being distributed … as a society, I'm not sure it's in our long-term interests to focus only on the blockbusters where you can make the money. I think you also have to have some diversity of thought. …" Compounding the need for diversity is the greater ability to exploit aftermarket opportunities, as discussed in Chapter 2, afforded by digital convergence technology. The impact of any one idea may be amplified by the ubiquitous, attention-commanding power of recursive delivery systems: the movie is the television show is the video game is the magazine is the cereal box is the talk of the schoolyard and the office. True or full diversity of information is not necessarily an unmitigated good. Some observers have warned that, if the medium is the message, othen advanced technology is bound to undermine cultural values. Such a concern was implied

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by Janice Obuchowski, president of Freedom Technologies Inc., who noted that in simpler times the cultural message was clearer. ''As we move into this distributed, interactive, somewhat under-surface, almost anarchic environment," she said, "we need to at least concern ourselves to some degree—without becoming hysterical—about the issues of our society and who will communicate the cultural center." Although that center may become obscured by the ability of emerging systems to deliver an ever widening menu of cultural inputs and outputs, that diversity and pluralism are also positive developments, as noted by Robert Johnson of Black Entertainment Television (BET) in a late-1994 interview. Johnson related the proliferation of programming options to the recognition that the audience need no longer be assumed to be in one place, or homogenous. Others put on the table the fact that greater flow of information in general implies greater (and qualitatively different) flow of information that some find undesirable. Ethical questions concerning programming shadow all the new conduits and forms of delivery, some of which, like the electronic theater, naturally attract social pressure. Society finds itself moving unwillingly into an uncomfortable, open-ended, and confrontational discourse to define "pornography" in media and calibrate damage to the young, the psychologically unstable, and the economically vulnerable.6 7 In the same interview, Johnson observed that while a rough consensus may exist on the inappropriateness of pornography for children, it does not for other material that might be considered undesirable by some because of its political or hate-mongering character.8 The potency of pornography, violence (Kilberg, 1994), and gambling demand that mechanisms be developed to satisfy the ever-changing parameters of social values and government regulation, Alexander Singer has said.9 Indeed, there is a skeleton at the feast of the entertainment industry's success, because its most profitable segment is the "action" genre, usually a euphemism for violence/sadism. Also chafing to get into the starting gate is the $30 billion gaming industry (including lotteries, off-track betting, and local bingo games).10 With its deeply addictive overtones and its appeal to vulnerable populations, this industry is not likely to enhance the reputation of interactive services, although it may enhance profits. Singer has warned that if the private sector is unable to regulate itself then political and social extremists will impose rules from outside (Harmon, 1993; Jensen, 1994; Lippman, 1993). Singer has predicted that the complicated questions posed by new technologies will lead to the emergence of professional specialists in communications ethics. Recent announcements about voluntary standardization and labeling by the video game industry illustrate the kind of self-regulation that is possible, especially when the threat of government regulation appears imminent to an industry.11 The telephone industry has also responded with mechanisms to control access to certain 900-number services.

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Esther Dyson of EDventure Holdings Inc. commented in a late-1994 interview on the interplay between private ground rules and individual choice: Private organizations have a strong role in creating and managing environments where there are rules. People can decide for themselves which kind of environment they prefer, and go into those, as long as there are competing sets of rules where people can go. One of the nice things about cyberspace is that you can easily pick your environment. In the physical world, if you don't happen to like where you're living, it's hard to move. It's expensive, and there may not be room where you want to go. But in the Internet world, it's fairly cheap to change your environment, and I think it's very important that the government allow different outfits to set up places with different rules and then people can just decide where they want to go. … There should be some way to keep kids out [of inappropriate environments]. But I hope that's going to be more the job of the parents than of the government. Singer emphasized at the colloquium that, regardless of attempts at control, the market will be flooded with information products of questionable value. This phenomenon will not spell the extinction of artistic merit, but it will exploit business opportunities and consumer demands. The existence of demand for digital pornography is already well in evidence.12 Noting that pornography was the driving force behind VHS videocassette technology, Singer said the sheer volume and diversity of new products may obscure the quality work. "None of those groups will control anything," he said. "This is not a controllable phenomenon. You will get a tidal wave of garbage, of excitement, education, penetrating intelligence and appalling degeneracy. Count on it. … It is appropriate, I think, for regulatory agencies to have certain limits on obscenity, privacy, and so on. All of that seems well advised, but you cannot stop the flood of junk. …" Intellectual Property Issues The supply of information available will reflect a variety of environmental factors and incentives, which relate to risks, rights, and responsibilities for buyers, sellers, and others (CSTB, 1994c). The most identifiable and at the same time most controversial area of incentives is that of intellectual property protection.13 Intellectual property rights command special attention because the content dimension of digital convergence consists of intellectual property.14 The discussion below highlights some of the issues; a comprehensive assessment is beyond the scope of this report. The issue of intellectual property elements in associated technical standards is noted in Chapter 2. As many have observed (CSTB, 1994c), digital technology effectively invites piracy: audio, video, and textual material can be copied perfectly, easily, and inexpensively. Broadcast networks, for example, have begun to face the problem of finding images to which they own rights (e.g., from programs that they own) rebroadcast over the Internet, where they are accessed for viewing and

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other uses on personal computers.15 This situation is one of many that raise questions about how rights owners will be able to track down or even find out about infringers. Some suggest that it may be time for a new model of intellectual property rights that takes into account these changing conditions; others observe that copyright, introduced for printing, has been successfully adapted for cameras, radios, player pianos, and so on and will adapt yet again. Multimedia introduces unique problems into the copyright arena, because its various components have different legal traditions. For example, the book publishing industry relies on comprehensive contracts, while the movie industry frequently employs short "deal" memos, and the computer industry has little experience with copyright issues such as "performance rights" (Radcliffe, 1993). Whereas the movie industry typically asks for compensation up front, the music industry has traditionally sought royalties based on performances. Compounding these differences among producers of multimedia materiel is the new control afforded the customer: the number of times something is performed, displayed, or distributed is up to the user, and therefore hard for the producer to measure or estimate in advance. For example, new video-on-demand systems that allow viewers to watch a program any time of the day could involve thousands of ''broadcasts" a day of a given program (Chartrand, 1994). Such patterns are driving media industries (e.g., publishing, TV/video, movie, music, and software) to explore new approaches to collecting money for use of their intellectual property, including various kinds of blanket payments in lieu of paying at each instance of use. A related issue pertains to enforcement and administration. For example, the distribution of songs through databases offered by such commercial providers as CompuServe has raised questions about who is liable for copyright infringement: the person who provides a copy of the copyrighted material may clearly be infringing, yet the owner of the database may be much easier to target (Woo, 1993). Case law is beginning to define or refine expectations, although the possibility of legislative reform remains. The very nature of interactive media—its malleability—can make it difficult to pinpoint the original "author" or even the confines of a "work" itself. As one expert in the field has observed, "In a certain way, the distinction between the author and user of material becomes blurred, if not obsolete. Therefore, in the not-too-distant future, there might hardly be any more authors, but a multiplicity of 'contributors.'"16 A fundamental issue is the interplay of creativity, communication or sharing, and compensation. This was illustrated by Singer, who recounted the networking experience of the Writer's Guild of America (WGA), an association of scriptwriters. WGA members developed a network for conversing and exchanging ideas. According to Singer, the network fostered "witty, bright, and rich interchange between some hundreds of people who were rather isolated and need one

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another's support." But after a year and a half, uproar over alleged theft of ideas led to the dissolution of the network, Singer said. A new arena in which existing law may be tested is that of fine art. Computer and software companies are negotiating with museums around the world for rights to scan images of famous photographs or paintings for distribution of copies via CD-ROM or electronic networks. Technology allows both high-resolution image storage and display plus copying via printing by users. To date, a typical arrangement has been a nonexclusive license to reproduce the high-quality photographs museums make for other purposes (Hudson, 1995). U.S. copyright law was strained even before the digital revolution. In practical experience, originality involves borrowing elements of the past, blending memory, repetition, chance, and invention in a new mixture, Lanham said, offering insights based on his own experience as an expert witness in some 50 copyright violation cases. By contrast, copyright law is based on the premise that there can be absolute originality. "In this view, the 'original' is the poet, alone in the garret, coming up with something absolutely new and, of course, redemptive for mankind. The history of copyright law in America has been a series of attempts to adjust this exaggeration to how originality actually works in human life. The new space of digital expression now forces us to make this adjustment in theory as well as in practice," he said. Copyright law could constrain multimedia development, Lanham warned. He identified three problems that need to be resolved. The first problem is how to define "substantial similarity" of visual images. That is, if a generative code can create images, and those images can change in an interactive environment, then what is being compared to what? When this issue arose in a case involving an Apple Computer user interface, the judge invoked an even stronger standard of "virtually identical," which is even more difficult to meet for images, such as computer-screen desk-top representations, that change all of the time as a function of their use. Increasingly, that dynamism is characteristic of user interfaces as well as multimedia titles. The second problem is structural. Multimedia technology, by enabling the reader to rearrange, rewrite, and link text in a nonlinear manner, has eliminated the fixed concepts of beginning, middle, and end, which traditionally have been the principal points of comparison between two works. Third, any discrimination between idea and expression is impossible when a digital code can generate music and images, Lanham said. "What emerges, for better or worse, from the multimedia environment as it has operated on young people and as I think it is going to operate in the future, is really a redefinition of human reason," Lanham asserted. "It's a redefinition of the nature of propositional thought. … If that changes, then the whole nature of the relationship of expert testimony, for example, to how a jury thinks about the ordinary common reader, common viewer, common listener experience—and how they judge a case—is going to change."

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In the information age, the law of real property may become secondary to the law of intellectual property, Lanham suggested. Inasmuch as digitization broadens and increases the volume of information access, there may need to be a rethinking of whom rights owners really want to protect against. Thus, for example, according to Lanham it may be appropriate to establish two levels of intellectual property, one for software professionals and another for amateurs that extends the principle of fair use (i.e., a copying that is not an infringement). Given scholarly traditions regarding proper citation and crediting correct sources of ideas and other inputs, questions arise about prospects for greater flexibility and acceptability in situations that involve "borrowing," say, of pieces of film or text for student projects. The act of borrowing is becoming easier; the context, constraints, and culture are therefore becoming stressed. The debate over compensation for intellectual property revolves around the fundamental premise of intellectual property protection: that compensation induces production, and that therefore intellectual property issues must be addressed if new information technologies are to be developed fully. As suggested above, interesting and vexing intellectual property issues are associated with multimedia "material" other than content or interactive titles, such as the multimedia interfaces of computing or other digital information systems. In the area of computer interfaces, courts have weakened laws over the past few years. Can copyright and patent laws be evolved to protect what in many cases are vastly expensive research and development investments in, for example, human interface design? These issues are actively being contested in courts today—if the "look and feel" of a human-computer interface cannot be protected by current copyright statutes, as many have argued, will it be possible to protect multimedia content or interactive "titles"? Or is content easier to produce than interfaces, suggesting a different set of issues? The intellectual property conundrum is compounded when the issue of patents is added in, although patents have received less attention in this context than copyright (because of the volume of activity involving some form of publishing or expression of ideas, which is the domain of copyright). However, a few controversial patent cases illustrate the potential for small businesses to substantially influence industry directions as well as costs. For example, in 1989 Compton's New Media, a division of the Tribune Company, applied for a patent relating to indexing functions that could apply to both CD-ROM and on-line services, described as the "multimedia search system using a plurality of entry path means which indicate interrelatedness of information." A patent was awarded in August 1993 and announced, together with Compton's intentions to collect royalties, in November 1993 at a major trade show, Comdex/Fall (Lewis, 1993b). The legitimacy of the claim was reevaluated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), and the patent was disallowed shortly before the 1994 session of Comdex (Chartrand, 1994). Another recent patent case involved data compression technology, affecting a variety of software and electronic communications

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and resulting in a settlement combined with equity interests between the parties, Microsoft and Stac. A recent change in PTO hiring policies to increase the computer science-related skill level in its work force is a step in the right direction. So is PTO's own moves to exploit information technology by creating a digital library of patent information. THE SHAPE OF TECHNOLOGY Precisely how new information technologies will change American culture remains a matter of conjecture, but also a matter of choices to be made by many parties. Noam observed that, historically, analysts have been overly optimistic about the short-term impacts of technology but have underestimated the long-term effects, such as the extent to which the automobile or the television has changed how people live, work, and interact. Stein, who questioned whether, in hindsight, the automobile in its present form was a positive invention, emphasized the need for a long-range vision in technology development. He acknowledged that, No doubt technology is going to get better and stronger and we'll find lots of uses for it, but fundamentally, it comes down to where we want to go. These are questions which I think particularly this society, the American society, is not very good at asking. We don't usually ask ourselves where, as a society, do we want to be—which machine do we want to build, and for what purpose? … [E]specially because we've had so much experience now with technology in the 20th century, it's the question that, it seems to me, we could start to ask ourselves. What is the long-term meaning—not just in terms of next year's profits, but the long-term in terms of decades and centuries—of the machines that we're going to build? I don't believe for a minute that machines are neutral. Colloquium participants suggested that intelligent management of new information technologies is the key to maximizing their benefits. This view was most optimistically advanced by George Gilder: I think the technology is enormously beneficial … I don't think there is any significant downside. I think that technology is what we are as human beings. We create new tools. That's how we emerge from the muck. This is the adventure of our lives and our culture. To pretend that it's somehow an optional or negative force is to deny the very essence of human beings. I just think that it's a positive force that has to be intelligently managed, but it's entirely positive. It's particularly an egalitarian force. These technologies are getting cheaper and cheaper, and they will be most beneficial for poor people, who currently suffer most from our school system, for example. These technologies really will allow any person [in any neighborhood] to take instruction from the best professors on the face of the Earth, or to walk through the halls of the Louvre with close examinations of the paintings. The world opens through this door ….

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across channels, Wildman said. He suggested two possible paths: programming services offering a preselected menu of different types of shows (i.e., prepackaged video magazines), and set-top converters or "intelligent" television sets, which would help viewers make their own selections of programs and services. In a variation on the latter concept, the cable television industry is developing interactive program guides that viewers will be able to operate using a remote control device (NCTA, 1993c). Interactive program guide work at CableLabs will enable consumers to search for programs by time of day, channel, and theme, and facilitate selection for taping. The StarSight program guide technology, drawing on broadcast control codes, is being licensed to TV and VCR makers as well as satellite and cable TV operators (Fleischmann, 1995). In a late-1994 interview, Robert Lucky cautioned that the design of program selection technology will affect its impact: Even if all content providers have equal access to a telephone line, if the person that builds the interface to your set-top box is making it difficult for you to choose someone's programming, you're not going to ever get there. And there's going to be such a plethora of material that the way you're gently steered, one way or another, is going to make all the difference in the world. This is something even more than a technical problem. It's going to be a problem for ethics and culture to truly make this open. Actually it will be very difficult. Although too new to receive much attention at the colloquium, the explosive growth of the World Wide Web and its Mosaic interface suggest a computer network variant of the user selection concept, one that has even spawned business ventures aimed at helping individuals and businesses to use the Web (Churbuck, 1994). The contrasts between the Internet and emerging television-based interactive environments underscore that "interactive" and "two-way" may be matters of degree. Argued Stein in a late-1994 interview, The thing about the Internet is that is isn't two-way communication, it's everyway communication. That's where the big struggle is going to be, to maintain that kind of environment, because we're going to have very different kinds of programming if we maintain every-way communication than if we go to simple two-way communication. Other speakers stressed that technology should be related to context. Stein noted that, in Pacific Telesis' conceptual video of life in the year 2005, advanced technology was in wide use but apparently had not improved the quality of life: the neighborhood was run down, workers suffered job stress, and student skills and parent-child relationships were poor. "There is no sense that people's actual experience has changed at all … the reality is, unless we are conscious of the kind of society we are building, the machines are not going to make equality for us. They never will," Stein declared. Stein's comments underscore the importance of making improvement of the quality of life an explicit objective in introducing new technology. But they beg

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the question, Whose objective should that be? Stein, an entrepreneur, acknowledged that businesses competing in the information marketplace focus on objectives supporting the quest for profit and growth, raising yet other questions about the role of government and other players. A History Lesson: The Evolution of Books as Mass Media In an ideal world, technology would be available on an equitable basis to all. One model for achieving universal access is the distribution system for print media. This infrastructure includes a taxpayer-supported system of postal carriers and roads for the physical movement of publications, as well as public libraries. The far-reaching system has provided for a richness and diversity of print resources, encompassing a wide range of perspectives and unfiltered sources of information.18 Whatever the possibilities of an idealized future, Paul David warned against overlooking near-term realities. The issue is not the technology itself, David said, but the need to develop and apply it by acting within social organizations, to address problems of trying to mobilize resources, especially other people's money and talent, for the uncertain and unproven. And the difficulties don't end there, David said. "When all the foregoing daunting challenges have been met, and when the innovations and questions are perceived by others to be potentially competitive with and, therefore, disruptive of their established interests—as all important innovations turn out to be in some respect or other—then there may ensue the life-and-death struggle against seeing the whole venture aborted by hostile takeovers, or crippling regulatory restraints, or outright suppression of its use by political authority." As an example of tortured evolution of technology, David recounted the history of the book as a platform. It is a tale of long delays, significant technical advances in multiple fields, and strategic intervention by authorities. Movable type was invented around 1440. But initially the Gutenberg revolution transformed the reading habits of only elite European society, not the masses. It took more than two centuries for the first popular novel—Pamela, by Samuel Richardson (1740)—to be printed, ushering in the era of books as mass media, David said. There were difficulties concerning standards, concepts, and layout, and the book's ultimate form was shaped by its development under a set of monopoly privileges that had nothing to do with authorship, but rather protected an industry that was unstable because of high first-copy costs, David said. Predictably, the monopolists focused on the luxury market, packaging books with bindings and other expensive attributes. "In that sense, they delayed the development as a mass medium, which could have been developed at an earlier stage using graphics," David said. "Graphics was available, and there was a market for it. Cheap books

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were available, too, but the market structure … that existed pushed it in a different direction." The evolution of printing hinged on technical progress in various trades; these advances set the stage for eventual exploitation of the small market that had created the culture of the manuscript book. Developments in the linen industry provided an inexpensive paper medium, and advances in optics made reading glasses possible for the far-sighted. The practice of metallurgy was affected as well, because Gutenberg's invention essentially signaled a breakthrough in foundry work and processes, David said. Finally, the Venetian aristocracy promoted development of the printed book by underwriting and financing the work, coping with related political problems, and using books for government publications. "They developed the book to govern what was Venice's growing empire, as an aid in that as well as in pursuit of a set of humanistic values which were embodied in the culture of the book," David said. USING THE TECHNOLOGY The nature of the content and the delivery system will evolve more or less together, in the context of the ways in which they are used. Games and education capture two ends of the spectrum and yet are increasingly discussed as elements of common applications. Games, Play, and Life The growth in the popularity and profitability of electronic games has inspired interest from many quarters. Indeed, cable industry moguls John Malone and Ted Turner have speculated publicly that games may be an ideal vehicle for encouraging consumers otherwise accustomed to passive television watching to become more interactive users of TV (Lippman, 1993). A variety of entrepreneurs have begun to find business opportunities in the new means and mechanisms for play, providing striking echoes to the scholarly description by Huizinga (1950): Summing up the formal characteristics of play, we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside "ordinary" life as being "not serious," but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means. (p. 13) Interactive games and services delivered over computer and other networks

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expand the potential beyond that offered by stand-alone game platforms. Advanced information technologies allow individuals who have never met, who are separated by thousands of miles, to get to know each other. For example, many students use the Internet to participate in Multi-User Domains (MUDs), virtual communities that were designed initially as sophisticated role-playing games. Since the first MUD program was written in 1980,19 several hundred similar games have been developed based on various concepts, such as the television program Star Trek: The Next Generation. Researchers and scientists also are becoming interested in these communities. As identity workshops for issues related to control and mastery, MUDs can serve a therapeutic purpose, according to Sherry Turkle, who called the phenomenon a ''deadly serious" game world, "precisely because they are not simple escapes from the real to the unreal, but because they're betwixt and between, they're both in and not in real life." Turkle has argued that a computer is like a Rorschach test20 in allowing for projections of the self, but that the computer goes even further than a standard psychological test because it is part of daily life. Extending this metaphor, virtual communities not only enter into daily life, but can also become daily life, because unlike conventional games, they do not have an end-point. Explained Turkle: The boundaries are more fuzzy. The routine of playing them becomes part of their player's real lives. Such blurring of the boundaries between role and self presents new opportunities to use the role to work on the self, and not the least of these is the opportunity to play an aspect of yourself that you embody as a separate self in the game space. Thus, virtual communities extend the potential value of role-playing games by blurring the line between the game and the real world, she said. In the Star Trek MUD, more than 1,000 players spend up to 80 hours a week engaging in intergalactic exploration, creating new roles for themselves, and interacting with others. A player explained the attraction of the game to Turkle: You can be whoever you want to be, you can completely redefine yourself if you want. You can be the opposite sex. You can be more talkative. You can be less talkative, whatever. You can just be whoever you want really, whoever you have the capacity to be. You don't have to worry about the slots other people put you into as much. It's easier to change the way people perceive you because all they have is what you show them. They don't look at your body and make assumptions. They don't hear your accent and make assumptions. All they see is your words. … The situation is a little more complex, since through grammar and diction words can be quite revealing, yet there is evidence that at least among school children the desire to present the best appearance to one's peers can promote greater attention to writing skills (CSTB, 1994b). The MUD experience has transformed Peter, an isolated physics graduate

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student whose life revolves around his work, Turkle said. Peter never has traveled. MUDs offer him an opportunity to interact with people, travel, and create an ideal self. "His favorite MUD is actually located on a computer in Germany. He calls this travel. It's from MUDs that Peter has learned what he knows of politics, economics, and the differences between capitalism and welfare state socialism … the room [space] he inhabits on the MUD is elegant, romantic, out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. Beyond expanding his social reach, MUDs have brought Peter the only intimacy and romance he has ever known." In a larger cultural context, such role playing provokes examination of not only individual identity, but also cultural identity. Using MUDs, Turkle said, "… people are exploring, constructing, and reconstructing their identities. They are rethinking social issues about gender, about privacy, about property, and about what constitutes legitimate authority in a community." The MUDs, their parallels in computer group gaming, and virtual reality technologies doubtless provide a unique and invaluable laboratory for social psychologists. This utility comes at a price, however. Unlike the withdrawal into the interior, reflective world of the book, the new environments vastly amplify their effects. As systems become more refined, complex, and compelling, their explorers enter terra incognita. Some of the less stable pioneers may become addicted or, as biologists say, "lost to the gene pool" (O'Neill, 1995). Indeed, one incident that generated media and cyberspace attention involved the suicide of a young man who immersed himself in electronic network environments, environments that close observers maintained had sustained rather than alienated him.21 More recently, attention flowed to a situation in which network users were able to mobilize assistance from afar to avert a suicide (Bowles, 1994). Turkle underscored how rich the concept of digital games really is: Sometimes, this dismissive notion of "all they'll do is play games" [ignores the fact that these are] a very serious and, in many ways, very constructive kind of game. … [What] I'm describing is a mixture of the creation of text, the creation of literature, and programming. It really is the first best example that I've ever seen of [the] potential for an entertaining crossing of the two-culture divide. People who are working in these worlds need to create objects with the programming language and also create text as they work. Many of them are kids. They are learning by building objects—they're actually learning to construct and make things—which is the best way to learn. They're forming communities of people with whom they remain in contact, often breaking their anonymity and finding another setting. So, if you allow this revolution to reach people, they're going to do what kids enjoy: at this point, what gives people joy is communicating with other people. The social dimension of interacting over a network and the combined entertainment and educational value of that interaction were recurring themes in late-1994 interviews with Esther Dyson, Stephen Case, Samuel Fuller, and David Nagel.

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For example, Samuel Fuller of Digital Equipment Corporation commented on the value of a distributed learning environment where a group of a dozen people could work on a topic, maybe moderated by a teacher, but where the content that is flowing back comes from asking questions or responding to other questions, so that they as a group of a dozen people begin to learn about a topic. In addition, the individual and group interactions that take place over networks have important secondary effects. Observed Nagel in another interview. You are seeing new cultures, new forms of journals or magazines, which are devoted to a growing, and I think an avant garde, subculture of people who spend a lot of time in what they refer to as cyberspace. It's becoming, in the same way that MTV did a few years ago, … a general understanding among the general population, even if they don't participate in it. … The idea that it's an important phenomenon is becoming part of the popular culture. Entertaining Education The potential benefits of interactive multimedia in education are perhaps obvious, and colloquium participants were poetic about the possibilities. Singer, who developed entertainment programming concepts for virtual reality, foresees breathtaking applications of this technology in education: "Imagine taking a trip through the brain, for example, for a group of surgical students. A brain the size of a cathedral, in the presence of a master surgeon or a master teacher. …" Such applications could be all the more stunning in an electronic theater, he has noted. Progress toward this vision is under way with release for access via the Internet of a three-dimensional, computer-generated body produced by the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project (RSNA, 1994). As Paul David said, just as the printing press has done, multimedia learning environments will "empower individuals, unlock worlds of knowledge, and forge a new community of ideas." See Box 3.1 on the benefits of interactive media. Publishers, news services, cable companies, software companies, and others have been experimenting with PC-based, on-line, and broadcast multimedia programming for education, with mixed success. On a broader level, several participants emphasized the promise of long-distance learning, which could bring the best teachers and latest techniques to even the poorest districts. The telephone and cable industries are involved in interactive distance learning projects, as are various segments of the Internet environment (state and regional networks, supercomputer centers, universities, an d so on).22 Notebaert pointed to Ameritech projects as illustrations of the potential. For example, the SuperSchool traveling demonstration model involves more than 30 applications for education available through the public telecommunications network,

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Box 3.1 The Benefits of Interactive Multimedia Some interactive products permit the type of reflection and experimentation that Donald Norman describes. A successful purveyor of this approach is the Voyager Company, which has published electronic books, plays, and music on CD-ROM and movies on optical video disk. Managing partner Robert Stein focuses on the "experience that is developed for the reader or user in conjunction with the author," rather than on the nature of the medium. Interactive multimedia offers a number of advantages over conventional media, according to Stein: It allows the user to experience history. Voyager's CD-ROM version of a U.S. history book adds approximately 5,000 original documents to the basic text, along with audio, video, and animated graphics. History books are essentially a filter of the author's analysis of original documents, Stein said, whereas CD-ROM provides for a dialogue with the author and "allows the reader to become much more of a participant in the process of history." Of course, CD-ROM does not eliminate biases. It can further understanding of cinematic history. Voyager's optical disk version of the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night contains added material such as film outtakes, script excerpts, background information on songs, and profiles of the cast and crew. It can attract a new audience to an old art form. Voyager's interactive version of Macbeth allows the user to play a chosen character's role, a karaoke feature that could make Shakespeare's play come alive for reluctant readers. Similarly, a CD companion to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 allows music students to experience and learn by "browsing'' through the composition, repeating sections as desired and calling up information about particular instruments. including distance learning classes between the United States and the Montreal World Trade Center, a user-controlled weather laboratory featuring a thunderstorm simulation, a computer-simulated voyage through the human body, and a homework hotline.23 Another project, ThinkLink, connects the classrooms of 115 Michigan fourth-graders to their home television sets via fiber-optic cables.24 Ameritech has an agreement with the school district to procure programming, schedule it, and package it; local teachers select the programs, such as a drama series on solving math problems (Ameritech, 1993a).25 Observed Notebaert, "It's hard for me to accept the fact that children go to school today in a 19th-century classroom and then go home to Music Television (MTV), which I think is far more entertaining and educational, although on the wrong end." Expanding on that concern, Donald Norman, a cognitive scientist who is an Apple Fellow, warned that the MTV model is not entirely appropriate for education, in that television programming and advertisements are divided into very small segments so as to retain viewers' attention. "The experiential mode of thinking that this creates, I think, is the opposite of the reflective mode, which is

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what is required for new thoughts. What I am afraid of, as we merge these industries, is that this fun and enjoyment of the experiential mode might tend to dominate and take over from the reflective mode," he said. The ease with which multimedia can incorporate recreation and fun into educational material is well established, but that capability may not be an unequivocal benefit. Educational applications should be longer term and deeper in substance than entertainment applications. "MTV is a good model for the entertainment industry, but school isn't meant to be entertaining; it's meant to be educational, profound, and deep," Norman said. "It's meant to allow people to reflect and to experiment." BET's Johnson pointed out that "edutainment" is not new—there were occasional instances in 1950s and 1960s television programming—but that the new media are fostering more of this kind of programming. Norman explained that what is at issue is how capabilities presented by new technologies are selected and used: This is not really a statement for or against technology. This is a statement about the ease of doing something with one technology that may drive out other things. We know that we can create technologies that lead to reflection and we saw a wonderful example at the prior lunch demonstrations. Robert Winter's demonstration of a music program, which allows you to reflect, to compare, to play this segment of music and play that segment of music and go back and forth and compare and contrast them, and to count the rhythms and watch the score and to read an analysis is a kind of reflective medium that comes out of that technology. What I'm trying to argue for is that when we develop our technologies, we worry a lot about what they make possible, whether it is easy to do and whether it is hard to do. What I'm afraid of is that we will be too easily driven to a machine-centered view and to this experiential view. Several speakers argued that, if distance learning is to be successful, entirely new approaches must be developed. Notebaert explained that new media drive the need for new approaches: "We are currently working with Indiana University in teaching distance learning in Indiana. The professors that are doing the course development, the curriculum, have had to go back to school using what the entertainment industry already knows and redefine the content and the methodology for delivering the content in this different medium." This teaching method can have a remarkable effect, he said. "Each student is then able to interact at his or her own pace and own speed, so those kids that normally would have been called hyperactive, all of a sudden we find being different individuals," he said. Similar explorations are being applied to adult education and (re)training.26 Another factor creating a need for new networks may be the increasing emphasis on visual material. In a late-1994 interview, Janice Obuchowski explained, People are reacting much more to the visual than to the textual. You see that in the declining readership of newspapers. That is very much a generational thing . … In fact, I've heard it said that video has become the language of the home.

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That's going to present a real challenge to teachers. They're going to need to communicate more visually. At the same time, they're going to have to persuade their students that there's still some value in something other than that more right-brained visual response. To make it in a highly competitive world economy, you have to be analytical, you have to be literate, you have to be numerate and some of that doesn't get learned just visually. Despite the emergence of the technical capabilities, however, it is not clear whether they will necessarily resolve the motivational issues that underlie reflection and learning—and that drive the markets for the goods and services that embody these capabilities. Educational experts have noted, for example, that the supply of good software and other content materiél for computer- and communications-based education remains limited—there are lots of products, but the quality is often disappointing. Moreover, the relatively limited penetration of personal computers into both homes and schools and the difficulties experienced by educators in incorporating computer- and communications-based technologies into schools underscore the fact that a range of financial, cultural, programmatic, administrative, and technical hurdles must be overcome for these technologies to achieve the potential envisioned by Gilder and others (CSTB, 1994b). As Johnson observed, the profit remains in the business market, which serves sophisticated customers willing and able to pay for new technologies; the pace of implementation in education will continue to be slow, reflecting the existing technology base and limited availability of funds. Winter of UCLA, who developed the Beethoven CD with Stein, was enthusiastic about the new technology, asserting that, while education is indeed a matter for "serious, profound, and deeply appropriate" work, it is also true that children learn by having fun. The traditional method of teaching novices to read music is about as captivating as giving a beginning swimmer "a lecture on fluid dynamics," Winter said. Winter's goal is to attract new customers, "people who absolutely hated high culture, who hated Beethoven. … I think this technology, in a sense, is a way of getting new customers for whatever you're doing. … We're hearing Beethoven or Stravinsky or Dvorak or anybody's music in ways they couldn't hear it." NOTES 1.   Samuel Fuller, Digital Equipment Corporation, late-1994 interview, characterizing a late-1993 new product line launch. 2.   A doctor can fill out a generic insurance form, for example, which the software translates into the particular form required by the patient's insurance company. The system is expected to improve patient care and to reduce paperwork generation and administrative training needs. Administrative costs have been reduced by over 19 percent, according to Notebaert. Information concerning WHIN was drawn from Notebaert's presentation at the colloquium as well as Ameritech (1993b,d).

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3.   The cable television industry also is involved in the health care arena. For instance, nursing students and faculty members in Idaho can watch live surgery under way at a local clinic on a cable system originally designed to broadcast college basketball games; the students also can ask questions of the operating team. See NCTA (1993b). 4.   Approximately 800 hours of cinema production compare to some 8,000 hours of television production in Hollywood (Flaherty, 1993). 5.   Reed Reference Publishing, New Providence, New Jersey, personal communication, November 8, 1993. 6.   Some research has provided examples of TV-linked increases in violence (Kristol, 1994). 7.   This concern must be considered within the current context of extreme intergenerational conflict. While it always has been true that the primary injunction for younger generations seems to be to agitate and defy the establishment, contemporary variations on this theme suddenly make the game meaner-spirited (imagine interactive "gangster rap") and oddly disquieting. The cacophony not only has turned nasty but also suggests a questioning of values hardly seen since the years of the flower children and the Vietnam War. For instance, a popular rap song encourages murder of the police; a syndicated cartoon show, Beavis and Butthead, has incited mimetic behavior resulting in suicidal arson and delivers its enormously popular message in a form seemingly "dumbed down" to witlessness; and within a two-week period the three major television networks broadcast competing versions of the same murderous teen-aged sexpot's "real life" story. The principal changes in moral values and particularly in pop culture across the last half century may be less fundamental than the result of a confluence of symbiotic phenomena. These phenomena are readily identifiable. Also consider the very real cultural chasm between age groups. The propensity of successively younger age cohorts to live increasingly in electronic environments accentuates the erosion of cross contact between age groups: 12-year-olds cannot make contact with 16-year-olds, who have little in common with 20-year-olds. Clearly, the familiar 25-year generation separation is splintering into shortened cycles of generational change, reflecting the shortened cycle of technology development. Older forms of expression are beleaguered and seem ill-suited to the times. The discourse sometimes seems to be in an unfamiliar tongue, given the profound impending cognitive change in the way humans think about and use language (see Lanham, 1993). 8.   See Schwartz (1993); CSTB (1994c). 9.   The material in this and the next paragraph was drawn from Alexander Singer, personal communications, February 1994. 10.   In March 1995 St. Martin (Caribbean)-based Internet Casinos Inc. announced plans to launch a casino accessible through the World Wide Web by mid-1995 (IISR, 1995). 11.   Video game cartridges will be rated by the Interactive Digital Software Association, and PC software and CD-ROM games will be rated by the Software Publishers Association (Farhi, 1994). 12.   At the major computer trade show Comdex in 1993, hundreds of new software titles were on display, moving beyond early generation of reference books to include children's games and X-rated items. "One Japanese computer dealer, who asked that his name not be used, said it appears that pornography may be the long-awaited 'killer' application that will spur the sale of CD-ROM drives" (Lewis, 1993a).

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    "'In the privacy of their own home, people will try things and do things that they would never be caught dead going to an adult bookstore for,' said Howard Rheingold, author of Virtual Community" (Garreau, 1993). Interactive entertainment over a network has unique properties: "Computer sex has obvious similarities to 900-number phone sex, not to mention magazine sex. But this new medium is also quite different. After all, these are real people finding each other in cyberspace, not a paying customer calling a professional." 13.   There are several legal issues associated with the evolving national information infrastructure (NII), such as privacy, security, free speech, and intellectual property rights. Considerable attention was paid to these issues in 1994, through the administration's Information Infrastructure Task Force and its Information Policy Committee and through congressional hearings. 14.   Disney, for example, is noted as recognizing the value of its copyrights for creative content as a critical asset, one giving it relatively high levels of flexibility; see Turner and King (1993). 15.   Personal communication with Minna Taylor, Fox Broadcasting Company, October 10, 1994. 16.   See Dreier (1993); Dreier is department head at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and Competition Law in Munich. 17.   Alex Singer, personal communications, Februry 1994. 18.   This analogy is drawn from Kapor (1993). 19.   A brief history of MUDs can be found in Kelly and Rheingold (1993). 20.   The Rorschach test, named for Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Roschach, is a personality and intelligence test in which a subject interprets inkblots. 21.   "[Nathaniel Davenport's father] eventually understood how some people have found something so compelling in this on-line computer world that they have all but pulled up stakes and moved into cyberspace, paying little attention to what most of the rest of us think of as real life. And in the end, Davenport came to believe three things: That computers did not kill his son. That he had not known his son. And that his son had been a bold and gifted pioneer in something exciting and creative and scary and cool, a still-furtive revolution in art and expression …" (Schwartz, 1994). 22.   An extensive listing of cable projects, including those related to the "Cable in the Classroom" initiative, may be found in NCTA (1993c). 23.   The applications have been used by students in Washington, D.C., and the Great Lakes region (Ameritech, 1992, 1993f). 24.   The system is based on the "video dial-tone" concept. A switch in the neighborhood telephone center feeds signals between the homes and the two schools; televisions and computer are connected to data sources by high-speed telephone lines. The system includes a set-top box and special remote control unit and "mouse" pointing device. 25.   Sixty-seven percent of the homes accessed the ThinkLink system at least 20 times during a two-week sample period; parents indicated the material not only has enhanced their child's learning but also has allowed them to be more involved. See Ameritech (1993a,d) and Lashinsky (1993). 26.   In work settings, electronic training systems involve virtualizing tasks with intensive use of simulation, and providing just-in-time knowledge and learning systems (including groupware) to front-line workers (Perelman, 1993).