Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Hi all, Sproull's article provides the same feel-good tones as the studies we read last week by making 'on-line' synonomous with harmonious.
On page 270, there is mention of a 1982 government program that never materialized but was intended to provide households with tax credits for purchasing computers to "keep families together more often and to strengthen loosening family ties." It is fairly obvious that computers have not brought about family togetherness, but why were they initially hoped to have that power? Has the American family become so desperate to communicate that we view new technology as a kind of saviour?

Why are computers and the Internet viewed as a level playing ground for one and all? Page 265 states, "Because using a home computer is perceived to lead to such socially desirable consequences as better-educated children and a more-informed citizenry, inequality to access is viewed as a public policy problem." Couldn't "reading a daily newspaper" or "access to books" replace "using a home computer" in that sentence? What about the 'printed-materials divide'? To reiterate my first question, why is there so much hope in the computer-age?

People communicate, form groups, insult each other, share ideas, etc. over the Internet. This isn't very different compared to how people relate to each other in person or in real communities, yet this new connectedness is praised by computer enthusiasts. The difference is that the communication is faster and can be transmitted over a larger area. How significant is the new speed and broadcast area? One example of the significance is how the Internet has changed political activism by leading to quickly organized protests and email campaigns.

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