Participate -- Communicate -- Pontificate:

Geog 350 & 498: Collaborative Online Discussion

Fall Quarter 1997

Background Sources for Discussion

Objectives, content and format of Geography 350 and 498 overlap in various ways. The emphases on peer collaboration, the use of educational communications technologies and our common interest in cyber-age spatial structures and processes provide important links between these two classes. This on-line discussion page shall provide the forum for this collaboration and exchange of ideas related to the spatial implications of modern telecommunications technologies. The purpose should be to vent our ideas, sharpen our argumentation and work towards improving and fine-tuning the "framework" for our communications technology discussions and assessments.

Geographers have frequently been tempted to reduce spatial processes to those promoting spatial concentration and those favoring dispersion. As an initial dichotomy, this distinction serves useful purposes. Yet, spatial patterns and processes are too complex to permit such a simple division be useful for long. Our on-line discussion shall attempt to sort out some of the existing confusion and complexity and complement presentations and discussions in class.

A general controversy is "raging" as to the beneficial and detrimental societal effects of telecommunications technologies. We, geographers, are often asked to comment on their impact on urban size and congestions, sub-urbanization, the environment or their significance for the future of air transportation, telecommuting or distance education. Yet, our interests often extend beyond such practical and "obviously geographic" questions: Do new communications technologies contribute to social equity or foster greater inequities? Do they lead to (or benefit from) larger and more powerful social and economic organizations or do they permit organizational decentralization and the dispersion of power? Does modern telecommunication technology help and obstruct democratic processes and civic collaboration?

These are complex questions and topics which deserve our attention in the context of many different forums and academic disciplines. In the context of our classes, we may want to start with 'geographic' perspectives, in the sense that we may want to suggest that new communications technologies affect spatial structures and processes, and that spatial organization of the economy and society affects the use and implications of such technologies -- potentially both positively and negatively.

I suspect that many of you have strong feelings related to some particular aspects of these issues and interdependencies and are eager to air these feelings .... Well, what are you are waiting for?

All contributions submitted during the month of October have been transferred to this site: The individualized tags should still work after changing the remainder of the URL in your directory.

Please start with or sign your name at the end (and indicate whether you belong to Geog.350 or 498) Thanks!
[Should you want to or have to make changes to your contribution, send econgeog an E-mail note... at your service!]

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it" (Henry Ford).

Thu Dec 11 23:40:50 PST 1997 - Just one more comment and then I'll be on my way. Nicely worded coment down there Macy. However, the complaints I hear about the information age -- that everyone can't afford a personal computer and the internet is loaded with junk, seem to pale in comparison to the other benefits of new technology. (in my humble opinion, that is). The information age isn't just about the web or having your own PC. New technology leads to benefits for everyone that reach far beyond that. Think about medical advances possible due to new technolgy, or I think Scott mentioined all the daily activities that involve "computers" like cars and such. PC's and www are a small part of an entire technology revolution. They get a lot of press, but i think there is a lot more to it.

Thu Dec 11 23:27:55 PST 1997 - The Information Age Is Here To Stay: There's been many varied responses to this discussion on the internet, the world wide web, telecommunications, and the information explosion in general. The responses ranged from "Luddite-ish" to extremely pro-technology. Well, folks, the "cyber-world" seems to be here to stay. There's never been an example, that I can think of in history, where technology advancements on this large of a scale have been stopped or reversed. You've basically got three choices: ignore it, fight it, or run with it! It seems that realistically there is no choice but to move forward along with everyone else into the Information Age.

While, understandably, the web and new information technologies can be daunting because they are unfamiliar, confusing or costly, I think, we have no choice but to embrace the Information Age. Current information technology can make your personal life easier, is a great resource for the corporate world, and has produced an entirely new arena for communication.

New technology makes correspondence easier with e-mail capabilities. It provides a resource that links the user to a nearly infinite amount of resources with a few clicks of a mouse. (Granted often it is difficult to sort through this information, yet it's basically free. . . and since some of us have more time than money, it can be well worth it.) From home, with new technology, you can shop, bank, look for a job, post a discussion, play a game of chess with someone on the other side of the world, get the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. Basically you can get information, communication, entertainment and make commercial purchases without ever leaving your home. Of course, this is not to say that never leaving your home is a good thing. However, these capabilities give you the option to deal with the daily activities of your choice in a simple, effective and fast manner.

WWW offers a win-win situation for businesses and clients. Businesses can save money, reach a larger market, and communicate easier and faster with other businesses, within in their business and with consumers. Businesses save money by advertising and offering services/products via the web. Businesses can have information or in some cases products/services accessible twenty-four hours a day via the web. Business can avoid the delay of the postal system or the quality of a facsimile and have documents sent across the world in a matter of minutes. Helfgott, in the Demise of the Long Run, discusses the implications of new technology (specifically CAD and CAM) which will lead to greater price and labor stability. (for further information on this refer to the article.) With the ever-increasing competitive and global nature of the corporate world, businesses must take every advantage available to them. While ignoring the technology revolution may be tempting, it's could be detrimental to a business. For additional information on business benefits of the internet and some statistics on number of internet users go to: Benefits of the Internet

The internet has brought communications to a whole new level. Is there any other time where you could sit in your home and talk to someone across the world so easily, cheaply and quickly. Technology now makes e-mail, and IRC (internet relay channels for "chat") possible. If considered as a supplement to our current communication forms, rather than a substitute, I think it is very exciting and fascinating. We are living in a world where acquiring, managing and distributing information is becoming increasingly important. Newly developing technologies are allowing us to do this on a personal and corporate level with greater and greater ease. If used as a supplement and a tool, I believe the new technologies can only benefit those who use them.

Most of my contributions have been very pro-technology, but in fairness, I can understand the possible drawbacks socially due to the new technology. If you are interested, I found an article entitled: "Communication Developments: Who Benefits? Who Suffers? that describes in more detail than I have (which is practically none) the disadvantages of technology. Although it does conclude with the idea that everyone both benefits and suffers from new technologies.

For anyone interested, another site of note I found is located at: and provides links to various statistics and demographics of internet users.

Thu Dec 11 19:29:52 PST 1997 - In response to Kristen from Sunday, December 7th. She is entirely correct to say that our children are the future. Duh, they only get older. Just kidding. No, it is very important that these children are educated properly, and that means throwing a computer in front of them at an early age. Wouldn't that be wonderful to see your children on the computer for eight hours a day, rather than watching television for eight hours a day. Think about it. I couldn't agree more with Kristen that since this class begun, we have also all become more computer oriented. This entails not only the internet, but also writing web pages, searching for resources for our specific topics with search engines, using email more than we should, and also using UWIN to conduct searches of materials in the libraries, without even having to go to the libraries! This has been a wonderful experience for all of us! I feel that Brian McCall also made an interesting point about the computer training we have. We were all fortunate enough to have Wayne and Krumme to help us out. Their training and use of examples helped to lead the way to my understanding of specific areas in the computer field. Another good point was made by Scott a couple of comments down.

Won't it be easy for everyone and easier for those of us who already know, to do almost everything over internet access, either by computer or television or wrist watch? Think about it. But does it take away from the social aspect, that in one way or another, connects us all either by force or choice? What would we be like if all we did was a result of computer aid? Sex would not be as fun <-- just an example. I have no grudge with Macy and his computer links. Hah, hah. I feel computers are here to help us in the future, but the computer is only as smart as the human who improves it. Let's hope, for our sake, that humans get stupid quick. This will prevent the computers from taking over total domination of us and the world.
- David Geography 350

Tue Dec 9 03:02:21 PST 1997 - I've been reconsidering my earlier statement about the internet as the great integrator of technology (of which, communications is just one) and the limitations it will have in our society. Clearly, we have more access to information of all sorts, shapes, and sizes than we ever had before the internet crept into our lives. When I mentioned we were being "assimilated" by the internet I was referring to the subtle ways technology replaces or is replaced by new technologies in our daily lives. A simple example is automotive repair. It used to be a good mechanic could pretty much completely disassemble a car and understand exactly how it worked. Today, some mechanics use computerized diagnostic machines to "talk" to your car (if it is a newer model) to figure out where the problem areas are to be fixed. Most mechanics couldn't tell you how the computer program works because they don't need to know. Just like the mechanic, I believe we are moving in the direction of enhanced technologies; technologies that already exist and are used by everyone who today owns a home, a car, a television, or a phone. These items and many others will be enhanced or integrated by computer processors and the internet. My housemate, who is skeptical of my predictions, said forty percent of households do not own a personal computer. He countered my assimilation hypothesis with a litany of deficiencies ranging from prohibitive costs to insufficient infrastructures to a lack of computer literacy in the general population.

The human obstacles are very real and surely the number of computer literate individuals who own personal computers powerful enough to manage all the high-tech software out there is acutally much smaller than the sixty percent number of households who own computers would seem to indicate. It is the well-educated and privelegded people in our society who are raving about the "internet revolution", for in their lives (and ours) computers are changing how we study, work, and live. The real revolution will occur when the same mechanic who works on cars does his finances, book-keeping, and taxes at home on the TV via an internet connection to a small business program because it is cheaper, quicker, and easier to use than any other alternative. The vanguard of the revolution are paving the way for the rest of us to follow in digital footsteps. The young programmers, designers, and entrepreneurs are developing new exciting technology most of us will only read about AND applying it to boring everyday things we all do so that we will be able to do them in the future with computer. The advantages are declining measures of distance, time, and scope, i.e., we can instantly travel via our computer to a virtual library and select any publication available. When they can design a computer as a book-like analog then we will be on the way towards such a reality. Maybe it will be a plug-in book? (with a rechargeable battery!) It won't be computers on desks that make the revolution. It will be computers that look, feel, and act like books (any book, at anytime -- for a small fee) that will make this a revolution.
Scott, Geog 350

Sun Dec 7 12:43:58 PST 1997 - It is said, "we fear what we do not know." The gap will be closing very shortly between those of us who understand the technology and for those of us who do not understand it. The children are our future are the key to success, and how we, as adults, parents, and educators, are better able to serve them, will only be beneficial to us in the future. I admit I was quite resistant to the whole geography thing of a class being so computer oriented, but as the quarter comes to a close, I feel I have the knowledge now that I wish I had in the beginning. The computer wave that has been occurring for sometime continues to be an obtainable technological asset for our kids, but my biggest concern will be positive exposure and a discretion enforced. As long as there is a healthy balance, more support for the unavoidable computer craze and power of the future that is in our children's hands.
-Kristin, 350

Sat Dec 6 20:20:48 PST 1997 - I couldn't agree more with Scott's earlier statements about computers being extremely beneficial. I too am quite happily assimilated into this computer age we are experiencing. Although some have expressed fears of "society becoming virtual computer slaves", I think what we really need is more focus on computer training. Indeed some teachers and parents are going to be stuck in their old fashioned "back in my day" philosophy of educating, but hopefully the excuses and can'ts will give way to the necessary computer instruction that will separate those who become valuable in job markets of the future and those who don't. Taking this 350 class has opened a whole new dimension to my education, and it disappoints me that it didn't happen sooner. I'm quite jealous of the elementary students Nathan mentioned, the ones that Krumme talked about in class. At the rate they're learning, they'll be better equipped to land a good job by eighth grade than I will be after college graduation. Computers are constantly becoming a bigger part of our future, and as we allow children (and adults alike) to access them, we all benefit in the long run.
--sez Brian 350

Fri Dec 5 16:06:38 PST 1997 - George of 350 sez: Giving used tech and computers to people is a great idea. So is increased access in libraries and schools. On a related note, why is it that tech advances (seemingly) so fast and we accept it unquestioningly?

I own a 486 computer with 8M RAM and 64M memory (I think). I bought it in 1995 and it is already worthless. This summer it was in my dad's office when the place was burglarized. The thieves took every piece of electronic equipment except my computer because they knew it would have no resale value. If I attempted to run any of the advanced lab programs on my machine it would crash. Yet in all honesty it is more than I need. All I use is the word processor, which does everything I ask of it. All the other programs are superfluous. Getting more memory (3G is the standard now, I believe) would let me add more useless programs, and getting 64M RAM, which I believe is the standard, would cut the time it takes to load the word processor from 10 seconds to less than one. Is this really worth shelling out $2000 every few years? The only thing I wish I had that I don't is a fast internet connection. A recent article in the Seattle Times advised that people shouldn't get computers with all the bells and whistles, and then listed what is apparently essential: 64M RAM, 3 gigabytes memory, a 16X CD-ROM, a 20 inch monitor, full surround sound, etc. This is very useful if you are an engineer or a graphic designer or someone else who needs a large computer because you depend on programs that require that kind of power. But for the vast majority of computer buyers this technology is wasted, as it will never be used. The worst thing is you can't buy a scaled-down version of a computer. One with a regular monitor and enough memory to deliver decent-speed internet would be fine with me, but that's unavailable unless I factory order and pay all kinds of special fees.

Things like this make me wonder if the PC revolution is even real at the household level. Engineers at Boeing develop incredibly complex software to build and land planes and the like, and NASA sends rockets to Saturn. This is where the real technology revolution is taking place, and the developments in these fields eventually effect our lives in ways much more significant than what computer we have (Climate scenarios, currency markets, biotechnology, etc.) By comparison, Microsoft is just putting shrink wrap around products that were obsolete years ago and selling them at ridiculous prices to a gullible public swept up by fluff pieces in Newsweek about Bill Gates being the second coming of Christ. Word processors are infinitely better than typewriters (imagine trying to write a mistake-free term paper on a typewriter, where every spelling error required retyping the whole page and every time you wrote another draft you would have to do the whole thing over.) The internet is incredibly useful too.

Nothing else released by the PC industry has had any real impact on me, despite all the hype. It really seems like much of the "information revolution" is a bubble that needs to be popped.

Fri Dec 5 15:01:51 PST 1997 - For this last discussion, I would like to offer my insight, or lack there of, on the future. These revelations came about through direct conversations with god, whom I confide in daily. First of all, god told me to be weary of getting caught up in the internet "explosion". Rather, it may be a "glass bead game" of sorts(to steal from Hesse). That is, it could be that this integration of information is leading to a thesis that has nothing to do with its source. A never ending dialectic that is creating its own identity. Internet and telecommunications technologies are building a system that feeds on and off itself. While the content of the web is continually growing, I think it is falling short of its intended purpose. Although I have no idea of the real purpose of these technologies, my limited perception would lead me to believe that it is used to bring people and ideas together. Now, while this may be the intended purpose of the web, etc... I would ask you to search the web for a couple of hours. Like everything else, the internet has many good qualities and sites and also the opposite.

Unfortunately, it seems like I have to sift through the latter to find the former. The technology is like a tree without roots, or a glass bead. I wonder how long the internet can hold credibility as a viable source of information. That is not to say that the internet completely lacks purpose, but rather the purpose may be misunderstood or forgotten. Okay, maybe we can take the internet at face value, a capitalist tool to find product recognition. I think that this must be the real purpose of the net. It is industry which drives these technologies, keeps it running smoothly, and feeds it to the general population. All right, I'm being too critical so I'll stop. GOD=GOODALL!! -Macy 350

From the Prof: Here is my non-visionary, rather conservative and crude look into the crystal ball. In a nutshell, I tend to agree with the more cautious of your views expressed in this discussion over the past two months.

As you have found out, I am wildly enthusiastic about some of our relatively recent new communications technology. This enthusiasm has probably more to do with the fact that so little has happened during my first 30 years in education, and that I need some change & excitement to stay motivated, than it has to do with a belief that a true revolution has just started. I am convinced that in dueeeeeee time, the new technology will be accepted by more colleagues and will have a hopefully positive effect on education. But as with most new technologies, the effects will be much smaller than anticipated by those who engage in simple extrapolations. In education and elsewhere, we will adjust to the new technologies, absorb the most suitable and economic features and incorporate them readily into our daily way of doing things, almost in order to be able to continue to live as we always lived, i.e. in order to have to change relatively little in the remainder of our lives. Yes, the new technologies will permit us to respond in some measure to the pressures around us (productivity and cost pressures, congestion etc.) and will make it less necessary to adjust in more drastic ways elsewhere.

We have had a tendency to overestimate the impacts of new technologies largely due to "euphoric technological tunnel vision" and an underestimation of other (e.g. economic and environmental) constraints (You must have heard of the SST enthusiasm in the late 1960s). The new communications technologies, however, may be different in their interaction with such constraints. Thus, they will be accepted (absorbed) more readily, but will also have much less "cyber impacts" on our lives than is wi(l)d(e)ly speculated. G.K.

Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 19:08:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Jeanne
Subject: Final Online Discussion 12/4/97

Societal and Spatial Effects of Telecommunications Technologies

The recent advancements in telecommunication which have occurred at a rate far greater than any comparable phenomena have undoubtedly yielded a considerable effect on society, both psychologically and spatially.

When you consider a kindergarten student, once concerned with simple letter recognition and adding 1 + 2 or simply understanding the beginnings of social interaction, surfing the internet or competing electronically with classmates in video golf, you begin to wonder if the lack of more traditional age appropriate activities might contribute to later social or behavioral difficulties. I've also witnessed a tremendous increase in home schooling utilizing the internet as a resource promoting communication computer screen to computer screen rather than face-to-face. There must be something said for the benefits of verbal communication within the same spatial plane. If telecommunication continues to increase in popularity at the rate it has been in the past decade, society may become virtual computer slaves, determined to communicate without ever making a personal appearance. I can only imagine what might happen if a sudden blackout would occur or if a powerful computer virus would infiltrate and devour the system. We just may have a suicidal frenzy reminiscent of the stock market crash of 1929!

Of course, there are many beneficial aspects to this technological phenomenon. Students can now produce more papers more quickly than ever before and glean more information from more sources than ever before. But we have been warned by our friends in the media that all internet sources are not created equal. Likewise, businesses can exchange information, place rapid-fire orders, turn out fancy forecasts, design new facilities, and hire and fire employees all at the touch of a keypad. And you no longer have to live within the spatial reality of your employer or work for a company with a stake in your local economy; telecommuting has arrived. In many sectors of the economy, facility location and workforce supply are no longer spatially linked. Certainly, total decentralization may ultimately claim victory.

An unfortunate side effect of telecommunications technologies is the despair that many of the "older generation" may be experiencing as less and less services are accessible to them unless they possess the knowledge of and have access to the hardware and software necessary for adequate computer operation. Yes, I do realize that this knowledge and equipment can be acquired, yet it is important to remember that not everyone possesses the intelligence, stamina, willpower, nor the financial means to successfully accomplish such a task.

I can remember being in high school in the late 60's and begging my instructors to allow me to submit my term papers hand-printed because I could not afford to purchase a typewriter. I can also remember being in college in the early 70's and being forced to stand in line for hours to purchase a simple calculator for over $100 (a week's wages at that time) just to begin to compete in a chemistry class.

I am well aware that this will eventually become a moot point as all of the "older generation" will be non-existent, yet there will always be those in much less fortunate circumstances. And, although touted as global in scope, society will likely have to continue to cope with the lack of computer prowess in developing countries for quite some time. While conceding that certain aspects of these new techno-communicative wonders are quite beneficial to society, I can only hope that other personal attributes beyond telecommunication capabilities are taken into consideration when evaluating the individual as a vital contributor to society as a whole. (Thank you for listening!)

Thu Dec 4 17:21:39 PST 1997 - Actually think about three, or four weeks ago when Prof. Krumme told us about the children using HyperCard to create school projects. My mother used to work for Apple and she doesn't even know how to use HyperCard. Kids these days are learning things that you and I would have never been able to fathom twenty, or even ten years ago. Technology has made a big difference not only in business and science, but in education as well. Monique has a good solution for decreasing the gap of accessibility for all persons, in order to make things less expensive. Try telling that to Adobe, who might sell a program for $450. The solution lies somewhere in between partnerships between public and private sectors, like I have mentioned in our web page about transportation. That is a good approach as some governments, though taxing, in my mind, too high of rates, they have problems allocating their money efficiently, or in the best place for everyone. If a politician saw it fit to get money for some programs, I d on't think it would be particularly easy. Microsoft has given some things to some universities and school districts. It is not enough, though. Therefore the idea of giving old technology to people who cannot otherwise afford it is great idea and will decrease the gap between those who can, and those who cannot afford to own a computer. This class has been a tremendous help in increasing my knowledge of the internet and its related technologies. It has been a great experience and other classes ought to go with some sort of format where technology can be implemented into more class curricula. This would increase everyone's worth in the business world, and would also increase their knowledge, in general. Good discussions group!


Thu Dec 4 05:52:27 PST 1997 - Think back 15 years ago when computers were barely being introduced into the schools. Very few people could afford computers at home, let alone even wanted computers at home. People didn't want to adapt to the new frontier, thinking it might possibly be a "phase". Well, that phase is here to stay and will continue to progress with time. So, what has happened since then? Many more people have purchased computers for home use, no, not everyone can afford them or more to the point, not everyone can afford to have computers with all the bells and whistles. However, as businesses, universities, public education in general, expands, there is an "out with the old, in with the new" trend taking place. What happens with the old? Some are donated, some a re left to gather dust in a supply room. If people are so concerned about a separation between rich and poor, then continue to make technology available to those who cannot afford to buy their own computer. Old computers can be found for little to no co st, just read the classifieds. No, these computers do not come with all the bells and whistles of the latest and greatest, but they will enable people to connect to the Internet, even if that only connection involves e-mail.

Also, more options are becoming available in elementary schools, allowing kids to learn about computers, e-mail and the world wide web. Sure, some kids have an advantage because they can go home and spend hours on personal computers while others cannot. Perhaps an option would be to open computer labs of these elementary schools in the evenings with parents supervising (and learning) so that these kids can have an opportunity to spend more time on computers, heck, maybe they can teach their parents a thing or two!

The fact of the matter is that technological advances are going to continue, rather than fight it, we need to find ways to make it work for all classes of society, rather than merely pointing out how much it will separate the "rich" from the "poor".
Monique 350

Wed Dec 3 21:02:36 PST 1997 - On prior comments in regards to the division of rich and poor in regards to technology, information age, computers, etc. I note several comments throughout the discussion in regards to certain sectors of society not having financial means to join the "cyberworld". So, what is the point of this statement? Either a) the point is, it is bad, because not everyone can afford it. Or b) What should we do about this. I'm not sure which of these points is being made by the comments in regards to everyone not being able to afford to be part of the new technology.

But, in regards to the first point: It is bad because it creates a wider gap between the rich and poor. I reiterate my earlier comment, economic disparity hasn't stopped the progress of technology in the past.

Whether or not everyone could afford one, telephones, television, and rapid transport continued developing, growing, etc. In fact, they continued and in doing so, became more accessible to more people. Furthermore, many of the comments are limited exclusively to who "can afford a computer". I think this is a rather limited point. Simply because someone does not have a home computer does not mean they may not indirectly benefit from the current technologies. Although a person, does not have a computer at home (and granted this may put them at a disadvantage compared to someone who does) they may benefit indirectly.

In regards to the second point: "What should we do about it?" I'm not sure I know the answer to that one. In a prior comment, I mentioned public libraries, universities. Maybe we should funnel more tax money into publicly accessible computer technologies. I don't know. Also, of course, as with everything, the costs will drop as time goes on.
Tammy 350

Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 21:47:39 -0800 (PST)
From: Jeanne
Subject: Jeanne Taylor

Online Discussion #3

Technological Change: How has it affected me personally? 

	Having been a child in the 50's and 60's, I have witnessed great 
strides in technological advance.  To think that devices considered as 
commonplace today such as color television, video cassette recorders, 
video cameras (with sound!), touch-tone telephones, microwave ovens, 
calculators, and, of course, personal computers, were merely futuristic 
notions is hard to conceive of for those of the "younger generation."  
Although devices such as these may have saved me a significant amount of 
time in the short-run, they have in fact provided for a faster-paced 
society thus actually decreasing my overall allotment of spare time in the 
	Now as a returning college student, I am able to process
information and develop highly readable papers at a much faster rate, yet
I am also 
expected because of the presumed availability of new technologies to 
perform this task at an even faster rate than I may be physically capable 
of.  In other words, I, and many others in my "generation," have been 
somewhat left behind finding ourselves in a technologically depressed 
"black hole."  Maybe we should just sit back and allow those younger with 
more energy and stamina to take advantage of these wondrous advances 
instead of physically trying to compete and killing ourselves in the 
process!  Oftentimes we have families and responsibilities well beyond 
those of the "techno-youth" and somewhere along the line priorities are 
drawn not always beneficial to all of those concerned.

In my own situation it has been difficult coping with the demands of my family while trying to update myself intellectually, but I do not feel I have much choice if I am to be considered employable and in reality, I must admit I have a personal need to accomplish this transformation. But I certainly don't think everyone should be placed in such a precarious position, in essence having to choose between time, technology, and family. I hope a compromise can be reached allowing those of us less knowledgeable in areas of recent technological advance to saunter along at our own pace yet still contribute to society's overall worth. Although the emphasis is now on technology and what it can do for us, we must not forget how we arrived at this point in time; credit must be given to life experience and historical presence as well.

Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 21:52:51 -0800 (PST) From: Jeanne To: Telecommunication Access 11/13/97 (Online Discussion #2) I've noticed quite a number of newspaper articles lately addressing internet access and the terrors many face as they begin to grasp this new technology hoping to become computer literate. No wonder when public libraries such as Everett's main branch continue to experience technological depression promoting a computer terminal as a mysterious piece of apparatus only to be accessed by a chosen few as a last resort, fearful that a member of the "public" may gain entry into the equally mysterious realm of "telecommunication."

Those in power seem to be frightened that the security of the City of Everett may be breached if the public is allowed to surf the net on their turf. The library has said they fear books will no longer be desirable. The lack of funding for such an enormous undertaking has also been noted; quite interesting since business is booming due to record employment at the Boeing Company and that internet access can be easily obtained for a meager $20 a month. The City of Everett tells me that this is entirely a library decision; the library says the city has the final word.

Now that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled for the implementation of "universal service" allowing schools and libraries affordable telecommunication services utilizing an "E-rate" subsidized with a $2.25 billion dollar fund, I would expect libraries such as Everett's to acquiesce to the informational needs of today's users by providing an easily accessible avenue to their technological needs. It seems common sense has not yet infiltrated the City of Everett; hopefully it's only a matter of time. Jeanne Taylor


Tue Dec 2 18:07:50 PST 1997 - The discussion between the rich and poor doesn't stop the progression of other technologies. Tammy 350

Tue Dec 2 18:03:17 PST 1997 - What is going to happen to the people who are unable to afford the cost of the computer? There is a widening economic gap between the rich and the poor, so there will be a large portion left out of the cyber-circle.

Tue Dec 2 18:00:09 PST 1997 - What do you mean "quite happily?"

Tue Nov 25 10:27:06 PST 1997 - Regarding the internet wave: The internet (phenomenon?) is the latest development in a trend towards increased computerization in our daily lives. Remember the days before personal computing when kilobytes actually meant something? Today, the catch phrases are Gigabytes, World Wide Web, etc. Our culture is at the forefront of a "digital revolution". (or so I've read!) Regardless whether you have a personal computer at home or not, I'll bet most people in America have at least several computers in various guises at home. If you own a car you probably own several computers. --or if you own a microwave, a television, anything with a remote control, a camera, a security system, --you get the point.

We've already lost the war against computers. The vanguard has arrived and established more digital beachfronts than you can count. The internet broadens our capacity to interact with people on a neighborhood or even a global scale. Just as revolutionary as the printing press, the internet virtually eliminates distance from communication. The next movement will certainly involve greater integration of technologies and increased emphasis on usability/user friendliness. As a user, our home, our school, our work, and our play is irrevocably tied to computers. The internet, or more likely some mutation of the internet, will integrate most of these functions into a system from which all of us will have to subscribe for every imaginable service. Most importantly, the opportunity to connect on the internet will be inexpensive, require little "new" hardware, and become essential for living comfortably. The internet really represents a new integration between individual households, business, work, school, and government. Prepare to be assimilated! (quite happily!)
Scott, 350

Last Round:

Should you have run out of topics to discuss for your last (3rd) round, consider these possibilities:
(1) comment on one of the more outrageous statements of one of your peers...
(2) use your crystal ball to see into the future (not without stating necessary assumptions...)
(3) discuss the effects of new communications technologies on your own personal, academic and/or professional life (if you have not done that yet)
(4) comment on what you have read (there are several relevant readings on Reserve in OUGL!)
(5) formulate your own "synthesis" after having stated earlier "theses", thought about them a bit more, and learned from your peers' contributions and other sources.

Mon Nov 17 11:04:37 PST 1997 - All contributions submitted during the month of October have been transferred to this site: The individualized tags should still work after changing the remainder of the URL in your directory. GK

Sun Nov 16 18:01:10 PST 1997 - The internet is an invaluable tool, as our gaming expert has pointed to, due to the fact that you can search many databases to find a variety of topics. Most topics might not be interesting to everyone, and therefore that is why the net is so far-reaching. I am taking 20 credits this term, and have found a lot of books on the web, instead of having to buy them at the bookstore. And if there is anyway to put it to the bookstore, I'm all for it. You take back a $50 book and it is already out of print!

(Sorry about the tangent.) Anyway, there are many ways to save money and time by using the internet, and I find it much more of a help, than a hindrance.

As far as the internet being the cause of anti-social behavior, I don't think that is the main reason a person shies away from society. Moderation, folks. Would your parents, when you were little, let you sit in front of the television for hours? No, they limited your time in front of the tube- at least in most cases. I always used to hear the old adage from my mother, "Go outside, you're wasting a beautiful day." People used to think, and still do think that kids are watching too much television, and yet we get breaking news, sporting events, world events, and education television, that might help us learn something in a short block of time. If people can get a balance of exposure to a variety of things, that person will become more well-rounded and valuable to society. Someone who is shy, will tend to be shy no matter if she/he has a computer, or a television, or any other medium that might take the place of interaction. I have a great time at work receiving e-mails throughout the day, and getting a chance to talk to friends and co-workers- it makes interaction that much more fun.

I don't think that there are that many ills on the internet, that one cannot have taken off, or blocked on one's computer. The use of the internet, and its ability to unlock many sources of information, is already paying off, in my opinion, and will continue to do so. Kids have evolved, and benefited from technology, since our parents were kids, and I envision the same benefits coming from technology for my kids, when I have them. Maybe I'm just an optimist.
Nathan- 350.

Fri Nov 14 16:03:53 PST 1997 - I would like to comment on one detrimental social impacts caused by telecommunications. Keep in mind that his assertion is by no means based on factual data, but rather a hypothetical trend or scenario. That is, the widening gap between rich and poor, educated and uneducated. I'm quite sure that if some spatial analysis was composed on the dispersal of telecommunications in the United States or some particular region, we would see a rather frightening phenomenon. I'm speaking of the allocation of these technologies on different demographic populations in terms of economic welfare, race, or other criteria. Do you think one might see an equal distribution across the landscape. For the sake of this argument, we'll assume that this is not true. Computer access is unequally distributed in that the financially stabile populations have more access, more telecommunication properties, and more knowledge of their uses due to this. Adversely, those without such economic status lack all three. This is where we stand today. What will this trend hold for the future. A future that depends on these basic fundamental technological skills to succeed. What does this hold for those less fortunate in access? Will this widen the gap in economic class groupings. Quite possibly insuring a lower upward mobility possibility(awkward!). I do realize that everyone in the United States has the right to use any public library system. but I would venture to say that these libraries have a certain fluctuation in technologies as far as their respective locations. I guess this would follow that old capitalist quote"some are more equal than other". I'm losing my train of thought... someone help me!
Macy, 350

Thu Nov 13 18:29:13 PST 1997 - I agree that the Internet can be quite resourceful, however I contemplate what we are actually teaching our children. The fast and easy way to do things? They still to learn how to comfortably go outside the home to find resources and contacts to continue to learn. If we continue to put emphasis on a complete World Wide Web linkage, are we really giving them the resources they need to learn? Parents must have that censorship, and the educational system must continue to teach the "old" ways too. (Otherwise we'll have our kids with the social skills of a computer!)
Kristin- 350

Thu Nov 13 13:23:02 PST 1997 - To further the discussion on the balance between the cost of the Internet and the savings it provides, I'd like to say that I consider the Internet an invaluable tool for both work research and homework research. The amount of time it used to take me to find information about casinos used to be somewhat extensive. We had to wait for gaming publications to come out and then go page by page through them to find pertinent information. Now, with the Internet, I can search by specific casinos, products, or industry personnel and I can narrow down the reading material right away. The information is also much more primary in nature, because the timeliness of the Web versus waiting for something to come out in print.

I agree that it can be expensive on a personal basis to own a computer with Internet capabilities. Truth be told, I don't have a computer at home, I rely on the one I use at work or the lab at school. So, I do agree to some extent that it can be costly. However, if I no longer had access to my computer at work, I would definitely go out and purchase one for personal use. I have found the time savings and cost savings well worthwhile. I am able to keep in better contact with friends and relatives both in and out of the area through e-mail and don't have to wait a week or more for a reply.

As far as the social interactive aspect are concerned, I have a couple of views. For one, I think the use of e-mail as a medium to correspond can be helpful to those that have a hard time with initial introductions. It enables people to establish a rapport so that when it does come time to meet face to face, both parties feel more comfortable with each other. Children can get caught up being anti-social by being focused on video games, reading all day, or any number of activities. It the parents responsibility to help balance the time a child spends on any activity and to show alternatives to the Internet. The advantage of the Internet is that it can be a way for a child to become more social in a sense, because they can communicate with other people on-line, even classmates.

Anyway, my thoughts are yes, there is a cost to be part of the Internet "wave", however a return can be made on many of those costs if the Internet is used appropriately. -
Monique, Geog 350

Thu Nov 13 11:49:16 PST 1997 - On George's comment on the costs of telecommunications - I lean more towards Brian's view. I think that people overestimate the cost of telecommunications without taking into consideration the savings. Brian mentioned the 32 cent savings on mail, but also there's the ability the internet allows for interactive communication without long distance phone charges. (Of course, it is a different type of communication than telephone communication, however, it is effective in many instances). In addition, many public institutions are attempting to make internet and computer access easier for everyone - for example this University of providing internet accounts and computers for the use of the students, and, I believe, the some public libraries do the same thing. Furthermore, the costs of such technology in the past as telephones and televisions did not dissuade the public from purchasing them or the media from relying heavily on them. And, surely there is some money savings to be taking into account when you consider the access to free information. There is much to be found on the internet (of course, it may take some searching and some cost in time) that would normally have to be paid for.

In addition to the cost factors that can be compared between older technology of phones and television, there is also the "real-life" contact factors that can be compared such as those brought up by Kristen, Macy and David. I'm hearing a lot of concern over the fact that the internet and telecommunications will not be successful because it is impossible to replace the need for a "hand shake" or "interaction". However, I do not feel that is true. I think that the internet and telecommuting will be a useful additional tool, however not entirely replace the system of business and social interaction that we have in place now. Just as modern conveniences such as the telephone or rapid transportation has made social and business interaction more convenient and more varied, so will the internet and telecommuting.

As we move further and further into the information age, it is not only useful, but essential to embrace information technology. Business continues to move to global scales. Multinationals are big business. Both on a personal level and on a national level, it is imperative to keep abreast of modern changes to survive. While it is somewhat frightening or confusing to comprehend an entirely new arena of communication, it is essential in order to compete on a global scale.

An interesting article I came across dealing with the benefits provided by internet access and how they can overcome other "handicaps" a country may face is called: "Information is King" and can be found at

Tue Nov 11 16:54:29 PST 1997 - Very well put by Brian McCall in the last contribution to the discussion. He is indeed correct to say that computers save us a lot of time, but is it always beneficial? If you stay behind a desk all day with your monitor in front of you, how have your social skills increased? I mean to point an example at people that avoid interacting with others on a regular basis. As computers evolve into younger kids' lives, wouldn't it also be important for them to react? Computers are very expedient when it comes to simple business affairs. But when it comes to the big deal, someone who interacts with fellow employees and customers on a day to day basis will have the better social skills to persuade a customer or convince a client in their product or service. My point (if there is one): don't rely on computers to shape your future. They are, indeed, very important to know and understand, but your overall communication skills will bring you through.
David, Geography 350

Sun Nov 9 21:00:55 PST 1997 - Many people argue that internet and computer prices are too expensive, and that a lack of money limits them from joining the technology wave of recent years. I think that a comparison of computer/internet costs vs. foreseen savings will show us otherwise.

How much does a computer cost? One that is internet ready with modem and monitor is around $1000. Internet service will cost an additional $20-$30 per month, unless you are a college student in which case it's free.

What kind of savings can we expect from owning a computer? First of all, computer access gives us E-mail. That alone is 32 cents saved every time we write someone an E-mail instead of a letter, which could add up to a savings of $5-$10 a month for the average letter writer. Students can also avoid trips to see their teachers by using E-mail instead. That saves both the student and the teachers time. With the internet, access is gained to information about anything and everything imaginable, eliminating trips to the library or local book stores. People will also save on magazine and book costs. With magazines ranging from $2-$6 and books ranging from $2 to $80, we could save a substantial chunk of change very quickly. With computers, many of us can work from home one or two days per week. I realize that a lot of person to person contact will always be essential, but saving a trip to work even once a week can mean big savings in gas, wear and tear on a car, or saved bus fares. If a person worked from home just four days per month, they could save $8 or so on bus fares, or an equal amount on gas and car costs. We also reduce the chances of pricey car accidents and traffic tickets as we reduce the number of times we need to use our vehicles.

With internet banking, we can also avoid trips to the bank, saving us both time and, again more travel costs.

There are many ways to save time and money by using a computer, and soon there will be even more ways. Yes, computers cost a substantial amount of money, but before too long, if not now, it will cost more to not own one.
Brian, Geog 350

Thu Nov 6 19:49:24 PST 1997 - Has the emerging force of modern telecommunications destroyed the handshake? To what extent will modernity 'clean the slate' of traditional business practices? We have already witnessed, in out generation, the impact of such discoveries of e-mail, internet and countless other communication technologies. No doubt it has acted as a decentralization force in various forms, but what counters these forces? In order to tackle this, one way to possibly view this is through the actual demands of any business contract, as our present society is built. A business contract needs two 'players' minimum, so I will use this as an example. These two persons are seeking to separate goals, so in order to establish these goals, some degree of mutualness must be established. As we know, any personal interaction(social or otherwise requires some degree of trust. Historically, at least in the United States, these oaths were sealed with a handshake. Together with language(spoken or body), the two parties are able to find mutual ground with insurance that one is not taking advantage of the other. Back to telecommunications. Can this information be as successfully transmitted through an automated transmitter?
Macy, 350

Thu Nov 6 19:09:22 PST 1997 - George signs on and asks:

Is the Internet a yuppie scam? It's pretty stupid to expect everyone to buy a really expensive computer and upgrade it every few years to keep up with increased tech requirements for reading more advanced internet materials. I know I can't afford that an d there are plenty of people worse off than me. Internet through TV sounds like a good idea but my net junky friends tell me it sucks. There are other proposals around to have computers equipped with only basic word processing/spreadsheet etc. functions and a web connection. These would cost just a few hundred dollars (in theory). In the absence of low cost computer hookups we could develop them in inner city schools and libraries and the like, except nobody in government is going to spend a dime any time soon on that sort of thing. Another barrier in the third world is that most people on Earth, if they had a computer, have no access at all to the internet. There's nothing wrong with the net but as of now discussion is limited to those with money.

I don't see much evidence for this to change any time soon.

Thu Nov 6 16:37:59 PST 1997 - Although telecommunication can be seen a a great asset to the public, I believe it will not alleviate the problem of population density in cities. People will have more of an option to work out of the home, but with the great idea is a cost factor and availability of technology. Clearly there has been a greater income gap between the rich and the poor. For some technologies are easily accessible and for others limited. Decreasing the cost factor and increasing the availability is ideal, but how far are we really from it?
Kristin 350

All contributions submitted during the month of October have been transferred to this site: The individualized tags should still work after changing the remainder of the URL in your directory.


Literature on the Geography of the Information Economy

Graham, Stephen. Marvin, Simon Telecommunications and the City: Electronic Spaces, Urban Places. Routledge, 1996

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