Re: From shopping malls to the information highway [cr-95/10/7]


Sender: •••@••.••• (Allan Bradley)

>This was the basis for a bill advanced in the California legislature in
>1981, by Assemblyman Robinson; it was crushed by the cable interests in
>California, who were all too familiar with Pruneyard.  Later, we tried
>to clarify that electronic communications were equivalent to oral and
>written speech, via a constitutional amendment.  Such vociferous opposition
>from the bearers of the "information highway" mantle you would not believe.
>Bob Jacobson
>Former Staff Director and
>Principal Consultant,
>Assembly Utilities and Commerce
>Committee, CA Legislature, 1981-89

Alice and the Looking Glass

I have sent mail re: Communications Distribution Rights in which,
hopefully, the issue definition of physical and logical communications
modeling focusing on high-bandwidth multi-media infrastructure allocation
would incur.   It is difficult to truly express the potential impact new
communications technologies and information services will have on our
collective psyche because it is so virtual in application.  In my opinion,
new communications technologies will be the *Looking Glass*  for our new
age - on what side our society will define "reality" will really depend on
the neutrality and objectivity of the "Looking Glass" itself.  The
definition or model of this reflective medium is the most critical issue
facing our national and local community way of life. Without question it is
the epitome of access v.s. distribution.

The * Looking Glass*  may be tomorrow's fiber optics, satellite, microwave,
etc. communications as we see it through our interaction in a community,
workplace, social interaction and government interaction, etc.,
environments as implementing real time multimedia information services.
Whether or not technology is good for all of us as a society is a question
for leaders and philosophers as the application of these new technologies
and applications unfold.  Technology can solve a lot of problems - it also
can create a lot of problems.  How the issue is debated is irrelevant to
the fact that technology is here to stay and it will affect all of our

The Cultural Onion

I was fascinated by O.J. Simpson trial not necessarily on a personal level
of guilt or not guilty (I have my own opinions), but by the cultural
reflections of communities as observing a common event.  That camera in the
courtroom, in my opinion, did distort reality.  On one side the court of
justice and on the other side the court of public opinion, reflecting and
resounding off of each other affecting the affirmations of reality,
attitudes and its perceptions.

We are all a cultural onion.  In the center, the self identity - the next
layer our the family unit - the next the neighborhood identity - the next
the local community - the next the metropolitan culture - the next the
state identity, and so on until we come to that outer layer - that very
thin membrane surrounding the onion that represents ourselves as a nation
of non-distinct Americans in a society based on freedom, fairness and
equality for everyone.

Communications media has and will continue to fracture our "cultural
onions" .  Communications can bring people together, it also can segment
them apart.  Communications has the power to cut through the layers of our
individual onions and get to the core.  On the positive side this can
empower, enlighten and enhance - on the negative side it can pander,
exploit and segment.  The critical issue is that communications
technologies in its various forms is not an issue of access by choice
anymore, it is now an issue of distribution by necessity.  If it can affect
our Justice System, it can affect our government.  The *Looking Glass* must
remain objective free, uncensored and unbiased (i.e. the Internet)
otherwise our core ability to assess what is real will be artificially
manipulated and this is often the profitable alternative.

The referenced snippet is a key example.  I do wish to make clear
ConsulMetrix (CMI) is company that has high ideals and we are not trying to
exploit an issue to our self interest.  CMI worked with a phone company
(will remain unnamed) for two years.  In that attempt our services were to
define objective models so communities could define the cost effective and
positive issues related to new communications technology architectures.
Within the phone company there were two schools thought: one to relinquish
control of models and more freely empower communities to become
self-determining, the other fear of loss of communications control and lack
of revenue stream protection.  Needless to say the latter one won out and
our value to this phone company was not asserted.

I think however this issue goes beyond this point and our company
objectives, but it does serve as an example.  I don't know what our future
is either personally or as a company,  but I do know if certain
organizations have complete control over certain communications
distribution rights, it can affect in very profound way how we define our
future and ourselves as society and a community.  It concerns me because
there are no models, not from the state, local or the FCC for that matter
that defines the public trust in this new medium.  And that scares the hell
out of me.

I am writing a Paper called:  Communications Deregulation, Distribution
Rights and the Last Mile.  I also will be turning this issue into a book.
But it is up to each of us to become knowledgeable in the communications
rights surrounding us - we cannot afford to become a fractured society.

Allan Bradley

ConsulMetrix, Inc.
Setting the Standards in Technology Consulting

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
                 Moderator:  CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)

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