NETFUTURE Technology and Human Responsibility -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Issue #76 Copyright 1998 Bridge Communications September 15, 1998 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Editor: Stephen L. Talbott (firstname.lastname@example.org) On the Web: http://netfuture.org You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes. CONTENTS -------- Quotes and Provocations I'll See You in Court Is E-trash Necessary for a Good Education? Can We Sing through Email? America Screws Up DEPARTMENTS Tech Knowledge Revue (Langdon Winner) The Real Millennium Bug Correspondence In Search of Reality (Gary Davis) Mixed Reactions to Participative Knowing (Stephen Keith Sagarin) Multitasking, or Attention Deficit Disorder? (John Thienes) On the Importance of Our Powers of Attention (Gavin Ferriby) Announcements and Resources Physicians and Scientists against Genetically Engineered Food Who Said That? About this newsletter --------------------- ** What Readers Are Saying about NETFUTURE ** I have been reading NETFUTURE since #53, and wish to say how much I now look forward to each new edition. I have been for some years now working in the management of Waldorf schools in Australia, and find your publication both highly confirming of the attempts many of us in this field are making to find truly human ways of working, and extremely stimulating in the quality and carefulness of the published thinking. (For the identity of the speaker, see "Who Said That?" below.) ========================================================================== QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS I'll See You in Court --------------------- Given the movement toward patenting facts, databases, programs, and genetic code -- what I will call "informational structures" -- I've decided it is time for radical action. I'm patenting that particular informational structure known as the syllogism. Oh, I know: syllogisms have been kicking around in the public domain for a couple of millennia, thanks to Aristotle. But I don't mean the syllogism in general. What I'm patenting is a special and truly innovative class of syllogism. It runs like this (Hofstadterites and self-reference fans take note): All new informational structures are patentable. X is a new informational structure. Therefore X is patentable. You will note my cleverness, which lies in this: from now on, anyone who seeks, based on sound logic, to patent a new informational structure will be making use of my informational structure, thereby violating my patent. Of course, for a reasonable fee I will let you patent your good ideas. (And if you come up with an information filter that can sift sincere truth from the words of politicians, I'll gladly waive my fee in the public interest.) Is E-trash Necessary for a Good Education? ------------------------------------------ Mention the heavy weight of trash on the Net as one of the reasons for not shipping young students off to cyberspace for their education, and you're guaranteed to hear the retort: "How can kids learn to discriminate good things from bad, or sense from nonsense, if we don't expose them to the junk as well as to the high-quality stuff?" Well, to begin with, when you're looking for reasons to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on wiring every classroom to the Net, you'll probably want to put the fact that "it's a great way to expose kids to garbage" somewhere near the bottom of the list. Nor is the textbook committee likely to require a certain minimum percentage of junk in each textbook, so that students can learn to recognize it. Nor will the violin teacher have his student play lousy music for the sake of the exposure. Actually, students have no problem producing lousy music, lousy reasoning, lousy judgment, quite on their own. It doesn't require much instruction. What's needed educationally is an ever more profound grasp of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Given such a grasp, you can recognize junk, but it doesn't work the other way around in quite the same way. Can We Sing through Email? -------------------------- It's common in discussions of computer-mediated communication to mention the absence of various "non-verbal cues". But there's one aspect of this non-verbal communication I've not seen discussed. David Abram describes it this way: If ... one comes upon two human friends unexpectedly meeting for the first time in many months, and one chances to hear their initial words of surprise, greeting, and pleasure, one may readily notice, if one pays close enough attention, a tonal, melodic layer of communication beneath the explicit denotative meaning of the words -- a rippling rise and fall of the voices in a sort of musical duet, rather like two birds singing to each other. Each voice, each side of the duet, mimes a bit of the other's melody while adding its own inflection and style, and then is echoed by the other in turn -- the two singing bodies thus tuning and attuning to one another, rediscovering a common register, remembering each other. It requires only a slight shift in focus to realize that this melodic singing is carrying the bulk of communication in this encounter, and that the explicit meanings of the actual words ride on the surface of this depth like waves on the surface of the sea. (The Spell of the Sensuous, New York: Random House, 1996, pp. 80-1) I would love to see that depth of awareness brought to bear upon computer-mediated communication. In fact, NETFUTURE was founded partly in the hope of stimulating sensitive inquiry of this sort. (An article in the inaugural issue was entitled, "The Phenomenology of Computing".) But neither I nor anyone I know has been able to make much of a contribution. Perhaps that itself is significant. As we sit immobile, staring into the tunnel of our monitors, do we train ourselves in the reduction of our awareness toward one-dimensionality and abstraction? Do we establish the habit of closing ourselves off from our environment (internal as well as external)? Certainly the range of what we need to notice is frightfully narrow. It might be useful to compare our typical "online consciousness" with the kind of multi-faceted awareness a trained outdoorsman must cultivate. America Screws Up ----------------- It seems we have no choice but to endure yet another promotional stunt designed to lure more kids online. This one's called "America Links Up", and since it's all too obvious that the Net isn't an especially healthy place for kids, the new promotion tries to show how the online experience can be safe and educational. Sponsors range from Walt Disney and Time Warner to the U.S. Department of Education, from Microsoft to the National PTA, and from the Urban League to America Online. Everything comes to a head with a national townhall meeting on Sep. 15, but meanwhile you can go to the website (www.americalinksup.org) and read the "Tips for Kids", with advice like this: Tip #2: If I see or receive something online that looks weird or bad or that makes me feel uncomfortable, I won't respond, I'll leave that area right away and tell my parents. (Do the "America Links Up" sponsors live on Mars, or what?) Actually, it's worth citing the other four tips here, since they suggest a single, overriding truth. Tip #1: I won't give out my name, age, school, address, phone number, picture or any other information about myself or my family without getting permission. Tip #3: I won't get together with anyone I meet online without getting my parents' permission first. I know people sometimes aren't who they say they are online. Tip #4: I won't open or accept e-mails, files, links, URLs or other things online from people I don't really know or trust. Tip #5: I won't give out my password to anyone but my parents or guardian, not even to my best friend. In other words: the world we're inviting these kids into is by nature a strongly anonymous and depersonalized place. "America Links Up" offers a closely related set of tips for parents. But the most striking thing about the site is all the common sense advice it does not give. Therefore I offer these TIPS FOR "AMERICA LINKS UP" SPONSORS: Tip #1: We won't encourage children to spend time online at the expense of their immersion in the world around them, their time spent playing with other children, or their formative experiences with caring adults and mentors. Tip #2: We won't ask children to become adults before their time -- adults who can detach themselves from their own feelings of discomfort and react "objectively and reasonably" to those feelings. Tip #3: We will steer children away from the onslaught of ads on the Net, since our aim is to see children educated rather than conditioned. Tip #4: Given the unhealthily sedentary existence from which many children already suffer in the era of television, we will try to reduce the overall time they sit in front of screens. Tip #5: We won't push children unnecessarily or prematurely into environments where we must ask them to be wary of shadowy, unseen human beings who are vaguely suggested to be capable of dark and unmentionable crimes. Tip #6: Come to think of it, maybe we'll just urge kids to stay offline until they're at least into junior high school. SLT Goto table of contents ========================================================================== THE REAL MILLENNIUM BUG Langdon Winner (email@example.com) TECH KNOWLEDGE REVUE 1.2 September 9, 1998 The approach of the new century offers an occasion to ponder the condition of humanity and of the planet that sustains us. How many of the world's nearly six billion people live well or in circumstances that are even marginally agreeable? How many still suffer poverty, war, disease, illiteracy, and the other scourges of our species? Will the policies of global civilization merely magnify well-known ecological, economic, and social ills? Or will the next century find ingenious remedies? Alas, as the symbolic stroke of midnight speeds toward us, the opportunity to rethink the situation of humankind and renew our sense of purpose is rapidly being frittered away. When people hear about the year 2000 these days, the first thing that springs to mind is the computer glitch that threatens to disrupt computer systems and send our institutions careening toward chaos. Because programmers in earlier decades economized on space by cleverly dropping two digits, we are now obsessed with the problem and the costly challenge of minimizing its possible damage. Yes, the Y2K troubles are real. But there's a pungent irony here. Our society has become so slavish in its dependence upon digital equipment that it seems unwilling to face squarely the health of the planet and humanity's future. To my way of thinking, this is the real millennium "bug," the urgent "Year 2000 Problem" that our systems planners, corporate elites, and political leaders have overlooked in recent years. One indicator underscores how grave this deficiency has become. At a time in which most societies around the world have committed themselves to technology as the one true path to improvement, the common understanding of what "technology" means and what it includes is now rapidly shrinking. Not too long ago "technology" referred to the whole range of tools, techniques and systems people use to achieve practical ends. This definition arose during the nineteenth century, replacing earlier, more limited definitions. While the concept was overly broad, it was far richer than the one gaining prominence today, the notion that "technology" is just information technology, nothing else. Other kinds of instruments, methods, technical arrangements, and devices are grouped under more specialized rubrics. Social issues, both promising developments and gnawing problems, that involve the broader range of technical means, are fading as matters for public attention and debate. This warped view of technical matters first gained prominence on Wall Street, where the category "technology stocks" has taken on a particular significance. The technology stocks are, of course, shares in computing, digital communications, Internet services, and the like. When one hears that "technology" is soaring or sinking on the stock exchange, one knows that we're talking about Microsoft, Dell Computer, Lucent Technologies, Netscape, Seagate, Sun Microsystems, America Online, Cisco Systems, and the like. In this context, the term no longer refers to automobiles, airlines, chemicals, agriculture, or anything of the sort. The word "information" has been dropped as a modifier, leaving "technology" as a pure, seemingly self-evident label. This innocuous linguistic convenience for busy stock traders has now spread, infecting contemporary journalism and everyday speech, signaling a narrowing of awareness and care. Oddly enough, this constriction of focus happens at a time in which, to all appearances, there is an explosion in sources of news coverage on "technology," hundreds of magazines, newspapers, paperback books, television programs, and on-line sources filled with stories about people's involvement with technical things. For serious technology watchers, this would seem to be a godsend. But if one looks closely at the content of this burgeoning news coverage, the vast bulk of it is limited solely to the computer industry and the Net. What first appears to be a wealth of useful information conceals a profound poverty of outlook. Within today's "technology" beat, the press typically follows stories of just two kinds. First are reports on the activities of business firms in the computer and communications field -- the latest deals, mergers, acquisitions, new product introductions, and strategies of corporate movers and shakers. News of this sort used to be confined to the pages of Business Week, Fortune, and the financial section of your local newspaper. But under the rubric of "technology" the machinations of CEOs, managers, and lawyers in the information corporations have now been elevated to a status and glamor not unlike that attached to sports heroes and rock stars. Will Bill Gates stave off the Justice Department? Will Steven Jobs stay on at Apple? Will the leaders of Bell Atlantic and GTE bring off their corporate marriage? Apparently, the reading public has an endless appetite for stories of this kind. Also favored in this approach are reports about digital hemlines -- late- breaking fashion trends in the design, marketing, and consumption of computer hardware and software. Which new gadgets does Silicon Valley have in store for us this season? How much computing power will I need to run the next-generation programs? Should I buy the latest Windows upgrade? What colorful services and diversions can be found on the World Wide Web? People who follow rapidly changing info-styles now find a great torrent of chatter about such matters in both print and pixel. Commitment to this approach seems all but universal. The "Technology Alert" from the Wall Street Journal that arrives in my email each day is never about anything other than computer and communications firms. If one turns to the on-line version of the New York Times and clicks on "technology," dozens of articles about the computer biz and digital hemlines begin scrolling by. Much the same holds for the hundreds of newspapers and magazines that print the latest gossip from the Internet grapevine. Day by day, the dull uniformity of it all raises the question: Why bother reading this dross at all? Here, for example, are some recent items from the Times' predictable stream: * "Oracle Announces Online Challenge to Microsoft" * "Web Erotica Aims for Female Customers" * "Braindump on the Blue Badge: A Guide to Microspeak" * "Flat Screens: Good But Costly" * "Videoconferencing Stage Fright" * "PC's for the High End Crowd" * "Putting A Virtual Doggy in Your Window" * "Hurricane Watchers Clog Web Sites" * "Gossip Sites Target Music and Film Business" Of course, the mood and outlook of such stories in the Times and elsewhere is strictly "upside," often totally euphoric, Viagra for the mind. In both the giddy writing and glitzy neo-neon illustrations, the model for "technology" journalism in this mode is, of course, Wired magazine. The recent sale of that publication to Conde Nast, publishers of Vogue, confirmed what many of us had suspected all along, that the magazine was less a serious discussion of the transition to a digital society than a never ending barrage of excited promotions for ephemeral electronic products and the personalities who hawk them. Now that Wired is owned by those adept at selling cosmetics and couture, its role is at last thoroughly transparent. What's remarkable is that so many supposedly respectable publications have decided to mimic the tawdry self-indulgence that has become the hallmark of cyber journalism. An obvious shortcoming of this odd focus for reporting and thinking is the vast spectrum of interesting and important topics it systematically neglects. If one is interested in solar electricity, for example, the second fastest-growing energy source in the world, one can read for years and never find it in today's "technology" coverage. Although the biotechnically driven "second Green Revolution" will likely affect billions of people in years to come, its arrival goes all but unnoticed. If one is interested in the rapidly evolving techniques of flexible production in global factories and offices, don't bother looking in the local newspaper or its on-line edition; from all indications, "technology" doesn't include such things anymore. How about the ecological disasters caused by "advances" in the technologies of fishing and acquaculture? What? Where? When? Why wasn't I informed? An illustration of a significant piece of news that has gone all but unnoticed amidst the hoopla of American "technology" coverage is the raging controversy about the introduction of genetically modified food in Great Britain. One study by British scientists, reported recently by BBC and the Guardian, found that rats fed genetically engineered potatoes suffered stunted growth and weakened immune systems. Whether or not the study turns out to be reliable, concerns about it and about genetically modified food have sparked citizen protest and disputes among the political parties in Parliament. While you can be sure that the emerging biotechnology firms around the world are closely watching this flap and its possible ramifications, the American reading public is kept in the dark, nourished by hundreds of Olestra-rich puff pieces about Internet fun and frolic. Perhaps aware of the growing vapidity of today's techno-news reporting, some prominent publications have recently decided they need a larger theme, a Big Picture within which to frame their topics. The startlingly brash, unprecedented, and illuminating context many of them appear to have settled upon is "Innovation." Yes, folks, here it comes! Out of the research labs, into the hands of entrepreneurs, from there to the global marketplace, and into your lives -- technology! What matters in this perspective is simply an appreciation of the dynamic flow and process. Never mind the social contexts, broader consequences, or policy choices at hand. Behold the surprisingly colorful people engaged in cutting-edge university and corporate research (and you thought they were just cold and grey!). Follow those far-sighted venture capitalists as they seed the landscape with promising start-up companies. Be the first on your block to catch a glimpse of all the gadgets and new media that will shape the offices, homes and schools of the future. Given the long history of campaigns to promote technologies of one kind or another in this century, it's amusing that anybody would find this emphasis on "innovation" the least bit novel. In one guise or another, this idea has been the bread and butter of industrialists, advertisers and reporters for eighty years. Ideas and images celebrating innovation were already current in visions of modernity of the 1920s when automobiles and electrical appliances (rather then Palm Pilots) were all the rage. From its very first issue, Henry Luce's Fortune magazine (1930) regaled readers with high-tone stories and photographs depicting links between emerging technology, business initiatives, and social transformation. Then as now, the arrow of causation always pointed in one direction. As the motto of the International Exposition held in Chicago in 1933 boldly proclaimed, "Science Finds -- Industry Applies -- Man Conforms." As we receive our daily dose of this threadbare mythology, updated for the age of cyberspace, the problem is not merely that the scope of reporting on technology and human affairs is dwindling. Resourceful readers can always search out diverse, substantive sources of news and information about all kinds of technology-related events. The far more urgent problem lies in the fact that, at a crucial moment in human history, public discourse about matters of consequence has been reduced in its outlook, trivialized in its grasp. Since people's awareness of what matters is strongly influenced by what news sources highlight as current and noteworthy, the shrinking perspective of technology journalism is a serious loss. Among the issues that cry out for attention as a new era dawns is the widening gap of inequality that characterizes the world's population. Our much heralded global economy has been very good at producing a handful of billionaires and millionaires. But for roughly a third of the Earth's people, especially children in the less developed countries, grinding poverty is an everyday reality, a situation already evident even before the economic crises of the past year. Can it be that we find the suffering of hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings insignificant when compared to the puzzle of finding a Y2K fix? While we're at it, why not tackle some of the "bugs" that threaten the environment we will hand to our children? How about fixing the technologies that spew millions of tons of CO2 into the air each day, exacerbating global warming? How about replacing the systems that pour toxic chemicals into the air, water and land, slowly poisoning human populations and other species? Let's eliminate the errors in our tax laws that encourage energy waste and other ecologically destructive practices. And let's fix the development bug that destroys good farmland and devastates the world's forests. These are among the steps that would be taken by those hopeful about Earth's future. I'm told that if all goes well, if enough time, money, and effort are invested, our computers will actually remember that a new millennium has arrived. Alas, we humans may forget to update our spiritual clocks, ignoring a momentous turning point and the challenge it presents. --------------------- Tech Knowledge Revue is produced at the Chatham Center for Advanced Study, P.O. Box 215, North Chatham, NY 12132. Langdon Winner can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and at his Web page: http://www.rpi.edu/~winner . Copyright Langdon Winner 1998. Distributed as part of NetFuture: http://netfuture.org. You may redistribute this article for noncommercial purposes, with this notice attached. Goto table of contents ========================================================================== CORRESPONDENCE In Search of Reality -------------------- Response to: "Following up" (NF-75) From: Gary Davis (email@example.com) [Regarding:] the story of a boy and his father who, walking along a trail in the mountains, came upon a rattlesnake. The two of them savored this creature's beautiful and fearsome qualities and then went on their way. Later, the boy remarked that "this has been the best day of my life" -- a reaction you will not likely hear in response to the most exotic wildlife on a video screen. Quite a few years ago, I had an experience consistent with your surmise. The San Diego Wild Animal Park is a large collection of exotic wildlife living in artificially natural conditions. I joined a group of visitors on an open observation train that runs around the perimeter, separating the park from the native chaparral. (This was the case several years ago. The park may have changed.) During our journey around the park, the guide pointed out examples of many exotic species. Like the other visitors I found them interesting enough, though few of us craned our necks much. About half way around, the guide mentioned that a native white deer could be seen in the brush outside the park. Almost everyone in the train jumped up to get a better view of this prodigy and stood gawking for some time as we left the deer behind. I can't claim that I was having the best day of my life, but I was quite struck by the power of a realer real reality over a more artificial real reality. Thanks for NETFUTURE, by the way. Go ahead and ask for money! I'll contribute. Gary Davis Mixed Reactions to Participative Knowing ---------------------------------------- Response to: "Why is the Moon Getting Farther Away?" (NF-70) From: Stephen Keith Sagarin (firstname.lastname@example.org) Dear Steve, I recently included "Why is the Moon ... ?" as required reading with a class in the history of education in the United States at Teachers College, Columbia University. I thought you might be interested in some particulars and responses. Your piece was one of four readings assigned for the day. The others were a selection on the history of the use of radio, film and television in education from Larry Cuban's book Teachers and Machines; the first chapter of Seymour Papert's Mindstorms; and John Davy's review of Papert's book, "Mindstorms in the Lamplight". The class consists of twenty Ed.D. students in school administration, part of the INQUIRY program run by Tom Sobol, former Commissioner of Education for New York State. The program allows students to continue working full time while pursuing their degrees on weekends and in the summer. Most of them are public school superintendents and principals from all over the U.S. Responses ranged from "pie in the sky" (that world -- of communicating with animals -- is long gone and we have to deal with what's here now) to "the best thing we've read this summer". Some were eager to explore the possibilities of participatory knowing, while others seemed simply unable to conceive it or to acknowledge its value. In general, those who found it most useful focused on a brief bit in which you indicate the value of participatory knowing for human relationships; I believe the phrase you use is something like "with sympathy and intimacy". All of my students are from urban or suburban schools, and all feel the social mission more strongly than the natural. This is not to draw a line between the two, but to indicate a difference in emphasis. I also felt the need to point out that, while the transformation necessary to accomplish active participation in knowing the world is a gradual process, it needn't take vast amounts of time away from more conventional studies to begin work in this direction. Thanks again for the use of the piece. Yours, Steve (Stephen Sagarin is a Ph.D. candidate in History and Education at Columbia University. His dissertation will be a history of Waldorf and Steiner schools in the U.S.) Multitasking, or Attention Deficit Disorder? -------------------------------------------- Response to: "Multitasking Ourselves to Death" (NF-75) From: John Thienes (email@example.com) It strikes me as amusing that multitasking should be so highly regarded. Indeed, I have seen job advertisements for programmers where the ability to "multitask" is sought after as eagerly as is facility with a number of programming languages and operating systems. And the story of young Jai Mani, "multitasking" at television, computer games, and piano lessons, brings this whole business to a point. In some venues Master Jai would be promptly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and thus become the recipient of no end of angst from his parents, frustration from his teachers, and study by psychiatric specialists instead of journalistic accolade. I ask: How are we to distinguish between multitasking and ADD behavior in our bosses or children when the outward manifestations are patently the same? When are we expected to celebrate their lack of attention to detail, and when should we console them as pitiable victims? I hope that those who cherish singleness of heart and singleness of eye are able to find others of like precious faith in the midst of what appears to be madness. Perhaps you will appreciate this quote attributed to Soren Kierkegaard: Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing. John Thienes "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" Mentor Graphics Corp. (503) 685-1847 firstname.lastname@example.org On the Importance of Our Powers of Attention -------------------------------------------- Response to: "Multitasking Ourselves to Death" (NF-75) From: Gavin Ferriby (email@example.com) Mr. Talbott: Your recent writing on multi-tasking and attention (NF #75) sent me back to re-reading a brief and remarkable essay by Simone Weil, "Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God." Weil writes that "prayer consists of attention .... The quality of the attention counts for much in the quality of the prayer." If we concentrate our attention on trying to solve a problem of geometry (for example), "we have nevertheless been making progress each minute of that hour in another more mysterious dimension." Our concentration "has brought light into the soul. The result will one day be discovered in prayer." This concentration is mysteriously redemptive: "every time we really concentrate our attention, we destroy the evil in ourselves." Of course, multi-tasking persons are completely opaque to the possibility of true good and actual evil, so bent are they on their own power of control: homo incurvatus in se. (My interpolation!) For Weil, "attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty, and ready to be penetrated by the object; it means holding in our minds, within reach of this thought, but on a lower level and not in contact with it, the diverse knowledge we have acquired which we are forced to make use of .... Above all, our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it." "Every school exercise, thought of in this way, is like a sacrament." This sacrament is a communion with reality itself, with God. "Not only does the love of God have attention for its substance; the love of our neighbor, which we know to be the same love, is made of this substance .... The capacity to give one's attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle." "Only" the one "who is capable of attention can do this." Well, I've gone on too long already, and could never do justice to the supple beauty of Weil's thought. I do note the very nearly erotic language she uses (all that waiting and penetration!) which is a direct contact with the danger and beauty of Plato's Socrates in the Symposium and the Phaedrus. Your essay -- and Simone Weil's -- have convinced me even more that the scattering of attention which information technology seems to make so much more easily possible could be one of its most damaging long-term cultural effects. I speculate that the only true way to combat this is to compellingly commend (how difficult!) genuine and difficult study: classical texts, Middle English poetry, Netherlandish portrait painting, the wonderful attentiveness of Thoreau and Emerson, the blinding concentrated prose of Kierkegaard or Simone Weil -- merely for example. If liberal arts colleges have any function, it may be to use information technology in such a way as to relativize it, to render it essentially moot to the most human of tasks, which is to live a life of creative attention to physical and spiritual reality itself. This is utter nonsense, I realize, to those completely immersed in Anglo-American analytic philosophy and the problems of the overly psychologized, multi- tasking information marketplace! My two cents. May you find joy in your studies. Thanks for your attention -- Gavin Ferriby, M.L.S. Editor, Union List of Serials The Consortium of Rhode Island Academic and Research Libraries Brown University, Providence, RI Gavin_Ferriby@brown.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org As of October 1, 1998: Head of Technical Services The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary in New York City email@example.com Goto table of contents ========================================================================== ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESOURCES Physicians and Scientists against Genetically Engineered Food ------------------------------------------------------------- A Swiss-based organization calling itself "Physicians and Scientists against Genetically Engineered Food" is conducting a signature campaign to mobilize opinion in favor of a global moratorium on the release of genetically engineered organisms and their use in food. Scientists in all fields, not just biology and medicine, are invited to participate, on the grounds that some of the fundamental issues at stake are clear and nontechnical. Nonscientists are invited to play a role as well. To sign the declaration, see http://home1.swipnet.se/~w-18472/lmgreg.htm. Goto table of contents ========================================================================== WHO SAID THAT? Michael Layden works in the administration of Waldorf schools in Australia, where his focus is necessarily on organizational and financial concerns. But he finds the general consideration of educational values essential to keeping his managerial work meaningful. Layden has provided little additional information about himself, but he offers a comment that is among the favorite of all those I have ever received from readers: Oddly, though there is a great deal of common ground between the positions taken by yourself and other contributors to NETFUTURE, and those of Steiner [Waldorf] education, I find myself referring to your work quite often in an attempt to counter a certain unthinking Luddite tendency among many of my teaching colleagues. There being a great deal of qualitative difference between a position of ignorant hostility and one of reasoned and informed challenge to new technologies. It is one of my hopes that those battling for more sensible curriculum choices in this area will use the very high quality "insider" argument NETFUTURE provides in their dialogue with governmental education bodies and other educators. It particularly tickles me to find NETFUTURE used in a struggle against uncritical technology refusal. I have always thought of the newsletter as a call for the restoration of certain lost balances, and Layden's comment helps to confirm that view. It is only because society as a whole is currently so unbalanced that the call for balance must seem one-sided to many. SLT Goto table of contents ========================================================================== ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER Copyright 1998 by The Nature Institute. You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes. You may also redistribute individual articles in their entirety, provided the NetFuture url and this paragraph are attached.
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To subscribe or unsubscribe to NetFuture:http://netfuture.org/subscribe.html.Steve Talbott :: NetFuture #76 :: September 15, 1998 Goto table of contents