Hold on ...let's think LO11559

Benjamin B. Compton (bcompton@geocities.com)
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 15:12:09 -0700

Replying to LO11539 --

Diana Mordock wrote a wonderful message about the impact of technology.
I have just a few thoughts that her message brought to my attention.

> I suppose I have other concerns about technology, even though I thank
> myself daily for getting wired and finding this group. I suppose I have a
> concern for the widening gap between "them that have" and "them that
> don't." Ben, you are one of the most connect people I have ever heard
> of-I still marveled today at the little girl in the checkout line at the
> supermarket who was calling home for additional items to buy-but we are
> not all like you. I don't think any time in forseeable future that the
> poor, disadvantaged or the majorities in the third world countries will
> have such technology.
> These machines are expensive and exclusive to a very elite group. Those
> that have, I don't believe, want to share the advantages of such
> technology, with them that don't. So the gap widens. Until we experience
> a major paradigm shift that breaks down the thinking that sharing and
> giving are bad and that there is not enough of "whatever" to go around,
> the toys will be kept for those who can afford it. Technology is power,
> like knowledge is power-only the 1996 version. I see a widening gap
> between rich and poor and this gulf will widen further as technology
> increased.

Diana I'm afraid you have a valid point. At the same time, however, I
take hope because technology is finally becoming widespread. Case in
point are Cyber-Cafes, where there are computers connected to the Web
that anyone can use. Public libraries are also starting to provide
access to the Internet. The problem here, however, is that those who are
"without" probably don't spend much time at the library or the
cyber-cafes. The question, then, is how can we help these people find
their way to places that provide public connections?

> Another thing that concerns me is the loss of culture in each country.
> Yes, I believe that sharing values is great but much cultural richness has
> been lost already. McDonald's in Peking? The same chain stores all over
> the world? The tapestry of music, art, costume, design and language must
> be preserved and integrated into the future for the future to remain rich
> and passionate. Doesn't the tradition of Christmas unite all of us in the
> world, low these many years?

What's wrong with a McDonald's in Peking? We have Chinese resturaunts in
America. At the same time I think I hear what you're saying: Culture
plays such an important part of who we are, that its may leave us
bewildered. I've lived in a few cities where there is great cultural
diversity (Vancouver, British Columbia, being one of them), and I found
it to be a great adventure. I got to know the Sikh's from India, the
Chinese from Hong Kong, and the British who had immigrated to Canada. It
was a real thrill to be able to learn so many traditions, customs, and
beliefs from so many people.

I'm going to start putting more "soft" stuff on my homepage: Poetry,
plays, lists of books, and so forth that represent me and "my" culture.
This way people can get to know "me" through the Internet. It's taking
me longer than I wanted because I've been so incredibly busy, but I want
my homepage to be a reflection of me. Yesterday I put some of my
favorite poems on my page; I'll work on it off and on over the holidays.

> One more gripe-about twenty years ago, I purchased a portable typewriter
> instead of an electric. Even though I felt very uncool, I reasoned that
> if the electricity were to go out, I could still write my poetry. My
> point: What if the electricity went out and all of a sudden we had to
> depend on our local communities for information and our own brains for
> creativity. Would we still have the ability to depend on ourselves after
> years of technological tutoring and dependence?

Very good point. A number of questions pop into my mind:

Why aren't we pursuing alternative, self-contained sources of energy
such as solar power? Why are we so dependent on a network of power grids
to live? My wife's grandfather is an inventor, and he built his home to
be "self-contained" back in the 1970's when the oil crises was going
strong. He has solar power, a wind mill, his own well, and a wood
burning stove for heat (he also built an electric car; I remember when I
was a kid I was home from school and my wife's grandmother stopped by to
"plug in" her car so she would have enough energy to make it home). When
he built the house the city refused to give him a permit because he
wasn't connecting to the power lines and the natural gas lines. He
argued he didn't need them, but the city forced him to at least make the
proper "connections" even if he capped the connections. For over 20
years the sun has been his power source. His well is still going strong.

In this instance, technology has given him greater independence. Since
he moved into his house he has never lost power during a power outage,
and never been without heat when the natural gas lines freeze. There's
something to be said for that.

> After all of this, I want to say I hope someday the participants of this
> forum can teleconference and do powerful things together in the world.

I too look forward to the day when we can intensify our communication.
I've been working with a company who is very interested in my "Internet
conference" idea. We're working out the final details, and should be up
and running in a month or two. When we're ready, we'll see how many
people on this list are interested in such a thing. It should be

Ben Compton
The Accidental Learning Group                  Work: (801) 222-6178
Improving Business through Science and Art     bcompton@geocities.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>