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COMMUNET  February 1994, Week 4

COMMUNET February 1994, Week 4

Subject:

TNO 1(2)

From:

Sam Sternberg <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 25 Feb 1994 09:31:25 EST

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text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (717 lines)

F Y I   Sam Sternberg
 
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
                T H E  N E T W O R K  O B S E R V E R
 
  VOLUME 1, NUMBER 2                                 FEBRUARY 1994
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  Welcome to TNO 1(2).
 
  This issue includes an article by Leslie Regan Shade on the slow
  start of debate on information infrstructure issues in Canada.
  As with most other issues, Canadians have the risk of getting
  American solutions (and American rhetoric, info highways and all)
  spilling over the border by default, as well as the opportunity
  to look at the American example critically and choose alternatives
  that fit their own conception of themselves as a decent liberal
  democracy.  We'll see which way it goes.  The good news is that
  Canada's civic networking movement has gotten started.  Indeed,
  the civic networking movement the world over is starting to do
  its networking in earnest now, and that's terrific.  Will it be
  Home Shopping Channel the whole planet wide?  You can make the
  difference by getting involved right now.
 
  This issue also includes two more articles.  One of them, which
  was motivated by some positive comments on TNO 1(1)'s article
  on political action alerts, is a tutorial on getting help on the
  Internet by sending messages to mailing lists and news groups and
  the like.  This is a big issue right now because lots of schools
  are teaching students how to do research using the net, and by
  all indications some of these schools could use a little more of
  a textbook on the subject.  Perhaps my own notes will be of use
  to someone.
 
  The other article is a somewhat hostile meditation on the illegal
  trade in information.  I personally feel that the crusade for
  freedom and privacy in the digital age needs much better theories
  of the actual threats to freedom and privacy.  Images like "Big
  Brother Is Watching You" really are not adequate, and better
  images of both the problems and the potential solutions will be
  a crucial part of the increasingly global campaign for democracy.
 
  But first, this editorial note...
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  Setbacks for the mighty.
 
  The arrest of former counterintellence branch chief Aldrich
  Hazen Ames on espionage charges is further proof, if any more
  was needed, of the absolute incompetence of the US Central
  Intelligence Agency.  The CIA has gotten virtually everything
  wrong for at least fifteen years, from the fall of the Shah to the
  end of Communism to this ridiculous business about Jean-Bertrand
  Aristide's mental health.  It no longer serves any purpose at
  all, even within the disordered worldview of its creators, except
  to continue paying salaries to the shadow-world of professional
  paranoids who constitute an extra-Constitutional government
  unto themselves in the world's most powerful country.  The cause
  of democracy would be much better served by dismantling the
  CIA and massively increasing peer-reviewed civilian funding for
  openly published scholarship on the world's cultures and ideas.
  This openness is not simply expedient; it is a prerequisite of
  democratic life and we should be appalled that it isn't happening.
 
  Likewise, the collapse of the proposed merger between Bell
  Atlantic and TCI demonstrates what critics have been saying all
  along: that the merger was predicated on a business model that
  presupposes a perpetuation of the anti-competitive practices that
  have made TCI what it is.  Let us give credit where it is due:
  to the massive numbers of American citizens who got pissed off
  at their cable bills and complained to Congress -- and then kept
  complaining until the FCC finally exercised some kind of control
  over the monopolists, however slight.
 
  We should consider ourselves lucky to have had such a crude and
  obvious reminder of the monopolistic practices that arise in
  poorly regulated telecommunications industries.  Activists who
  are pursuing democratic models of telecommunications regulation
  in the era of digital convergence should build on this success by
  making everyone -- not just in Washington, and not just on the net
  -- aware of the deeper issues.  The cause of democracy requires
  diversity, openness, and widespread access to telecommunications.
  At a minimum this means the avoidance of monopolies.  But
  more fundamentally, it means common carrier regulation and the
  associated technical standards, so that everyone can produce
  content in all media as well as consuming it, and the iron-clad
  principle that bandwidth must be set aside for public use.  Is
  the future going to look like the Internet?  Now is the time when
  we, the people, make this choice.
 
  As a practical-political matter this process requires, among
  other things, that somebody throw some more light on the practices
  of the would-be monopolists, the companies whose business models
  are predicated on poorly regulated control of both carrier and
  content.  This is not the free market in operation.  Rather, it's
  large-scale "issues management" aimed at institutionalizing a set
  of anti-competitive regulatory structures.  Issues management is
  the high-powered synthesis of lobbying, legal advocacy, public
  relations, and the quasi-intellectual work of "think tanks".
  (One manifestation of issues management is the recent round of
  vague promises that unregulated telecommunications monopolies will
  connect large numbers of schools to the info highway, with little
  if any guarantees about the technical nature, economic terms,
  and equity of distribution of these connections.)  This process
  is furthest along in Brussels, where a truly scary anti-democratic
  system is being shaped under the guidance of Europe's largest
  trans-national companies.  Issues management is being practiced
  at a high level of refinement in Washington as well, but the game
  is much more fluid at this point, due precisely to what little
  democracy is still operating in this country.
 
  The cause of democracy would be greatly enhanced world-wide if
  the practices of issue management were thoroughly exposed and
  if clear, powerful metaphors for the process became as widespread
  as Big Brother and the Panopticon.  For basic information about
  issues management see the following:
 
  Robert L. Heath and Richard Alan Nelson, Issues Management:
  Corporate Public Policymaking in an Information Society, Beverly
  Hills, CA: Sage, 1986.  An academic book summarizing the methods
  of issues management as they existed in the mid-1980's.
 
  William Greider, Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of
  American Democracy, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.  A
  critical journalistic account of issues management in practice
  and the democratic resistance to it.  His examples are drawn
  from environmental controversies, but you can easily substitute
  telecommunications issues.
 
  Here's the bottom line: if you want the future of digital
  community-building to look like the Internet, you want the future
  of telecommunications regulation to be organized on common carrier
  principles.  Do yourself a big favor this month: say the phrase
  "common carrier" over and over until you start to like the sound
  of it.  Then get yourself going: agitate, educate, and organize.
  Without you it just won't happen.
 
  To find out how to get involved, consult the Electronic Frontier
  Foundation's excellent guide to public networking organizations
  worldwide, a copy of which can be gotten by sending a message that
  looks like:
 
    To: [log in to unmask]
    Subject: archive send eff.faq
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  The art of getting help.
 
  In the Risks Digest 15.57, Dan Yurman <[log in to unmask]>
  complained about a worrisome new net phenomenon, "the practice by
  college students of using subject matter listservs as sources of
  first resort for information they should be looking up in their
  university library".  He tells the tale of a college course in
  which students were directed to do research for term papers on
  environmental issues using messages posted to Listserv groups.
  The result was a flood of basic questions being directed to a
  group of specialists in ecology.  His note is valuable in its
  entirety, and you can fetch it from the RRE archive by sending a
  message that looks like:
 
    To: [log in to unmask]
    Subject: archive send courtesy
 
  The basic problem, in Dan's view, was that "neither the TA nor the
  students had any idea who was at the other end of the line.  All
  they saw was a computer that should be giving them answers."  That
  may well be true, but I would like to suggest that his tale raises
  an issue of much broader importance: teaching students how to get
  help -- both off the Internet and on it.  My own experience as a
  college teacher is that most students have little understanding of
  how to get help.  Many cannot seek help, for example by showing up
  for a professor's office hours, without feeling as though they are
  subordinating themselves to someone.  The reasons for this feeling
  might well be found in the workings of educational institutions.
  My own issue here is what to do about it, and how the Internet
  might (or might not) help.
 
  We should start by telling ourselves three obvious things: (1)
  that needing and getting help are normal parts of any project
  that isn't totally spoon-fed, (2) that getting help is a skill,
  and (3) that nobody is born with this skill.  What are the basic
  principles of getting help?  They might all sound obvious to you,
  but they're definitely not obvious to beginners -- maybe you can
  store them where beginners can find them.
 
   * Be able to explain your project.  If you can't explain the
  basic ideas and goals of your project in language that any given
  person can understand, then back up and figure out what you're
  trying to do.
 
   * Know what your question is.  Just because you feel like you
  need help, that doesn't mean you know what it is you want.  If you
  need help formulating your question, *get* help with that first.
 
   * Try the obvious sources first.  Never ask a person, or at least
  a person you don't know well, any questions until you've tried
  the obvious references -- encyclopedias, almanacs, card catalogs,
  phone books, and so forth.  Failing to doing so regularly causes
  great offense.
 
   * Make friends with a librarian.  Librarians have chosen
  to be librarians because they are dedicated to helping people
  find information.  If you're feeling uncertain about how to find
  information, go to a library and ask questions.  You'll get much
  better and more patient answers than you'll ever get on the net.
  If you don't know what to say, say this: "Hi.  I'm working on a
  project about X and I'm trying to find information about Y.  Who
  can help me figure out how to do this?"
 
   * Ask the right person.  Figure out whether your question is
  basic or advanced, and don't ask an expert unless it's advanced.
  It's okay to ask librarians how to find basic information.
 
   * Provide some context.  Unless your question is quite
  straightforwardly factual in nature, it probably won't make sense
  to anyone unless you explain something about your project first.
 
   * Don't get hung up on the Internet.  Think of the Internet as
  simply one part of a larger ecology of information sources and
  communication media.  Don't look for your answer on the Internet
  just because the Internet is fashionable or easy.  The Internet,
  at least as it stands today, is very good at some things and very
  bad at other things.
 
   * Do some homework.  Let's say you *do* wish to get information
  by sending a message to a discussion group (Listserv group,
  Usenet news group, etc) on the net.  If at all possible, subscribe
  to that group for a little while first in order to get a sense
  for it.  How heavy is the load?  How polite is the general tone
  of interaction?  Does the list maintainer have a FAQ (Frequently
  Asked Questions) file available?  (Do you figure your question
  might be frequently asked?)
 
   * Take some care.  Keep in mind that the people aren't obligated
  to help you; they're busy and have lives just like you.  So don't
  just dash off a brief note.  Write in complete sentences and
  check your spelling.  Avoid idioms that people in other countries
  might not understand.  Don't attempt any ironic humor; it doesn't
  travel well in e-mail.  Start out by introducing yourself in a
  sentence or two.  And wrap up with a polite formula such as "Any
  suggestions would be much appreciated."
 
   * Make yourself useful.  If your question might be of general
  interest, offer to assemble the answers you receive and pass them
  along to whoever else is interested.  You might even consider
  maintaining a file of useful information on the subject and
  advertising its availability to others in your situation.
 
   * Ask who to ask.  Consider including a statement such as, "If
  nobody knows the answer, perhaps you can tell me who else might
  know it."  Indeed, it's often a good idea to formulate your
  question this way in the first place.  That is, instead of "Can
  anybody tell me X?", try "Can anybody tell me how to find out X?"
 
   * Use the Reply-To: field.  Keep in mind that e-mail discussion
  groups are often destroyed by too much random chatter.  You can
  help minimize the amount of random chatter that your request
  generates by including a Reply-To: field in the header of your
  message, indicating that replies should be directed to your own
  e-mail address and not to the whole group.
 
   * Sign the message.  Include your name and e-mail address in the
  message, in case it isn't obvious from the header.
 
   * Say thank you.  Send a brief message of thanks to each person
  who replies constructively to your request.  Do not simply include
  a generic "Thank you in advance" in your request -- you risk
  making the net more impersonal.
 
   * Let it take time.  You won't necessarily get an answer right
  away.  You won't necessarily get an answer at all.  It might take
  a while before you learn how to use the net.  That's life.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  The economics of information crimes.
 
  Recently a hoax has been circulating the Internet, a fake ad for
  a company called BlackNet that uses cryptography to anonymously
  match buyers and sellers for illegal transfers of information.
  It's not really that great a joke, but at least it should set us
  thinking about how the illicit trade in information is actually
  organized.  This trade certainly exists.  Although it is obviously
  secretive, many instances of it have been documented by privacy
  activists and others.
 
  We might inquire into the nature of this trade in many ways, but
  I propose to sketch an economic theory of illegal information
  exchange.  Why?  In these free market times, if neoclassical
  economics is going to be made to explain family life and campaign
  contributions then surely it should be made to explain crime
  as well.  Fraud, extortion, violations of personal privacy and
  intellectual property rights, extrajudicial executions, and other
  criminal activities surely obey the laws of the market just as
  well.
 
  To my knowledge, which is of course necessarily limited,
  the market in illicit information is structured in a pretty
  conventional way.  There are roughly two market structures.
  One of them is highly decentralized and depends on very specific
  knowledge about what information is likely to be useful to
  whom (that is, knowledge about the economic uses of specific
  categories of knowledge); it thus depends heavily on particular
  professional relationships.  In particular, it has little use for
  cryptography since all the hiding goes on in the specificity of
  particular relationships.
 
  The other kind is more of a mass-market phenomenon, and more
  closely resembles the conventional image of a market, with
  well-defined commodities and sharp competition among suppliers.
  This sector of the market trades primarily in highly standardized
  personal information, and operates through a wide variety of
  what marketing people call "grey channels", distribution channels
  other than those the marketing organization intends.
 
  (An example would be the widespread practice in packaged-goods
  arbitrage; if Safeway holds a sale on toothpaste in San Francisco
  and not in Los Angeles, or if Procter and Gamble discounts
  wholesale toothpaste in San Francisco and not in Los Angeles for
  competitive or promotional reasons, then someone will buy crates
  of toothpaste in San Francisco and ship them to Los Angeles.)
 
  Aside from these two market structures, and interacting to some
  extent with them, are the very widespread and deeply rooted
  informal networks of non-market information-sharing, for example
  between the police and utility companies.  Money usually does
  not change hands, though no doubt it is worth understanding
  these informal patterns of reciprocal assistance in economic
  terms as well.  As with most favor-sharing networks, the process
  is thoroughly decentralized (although some organizations offer
  specific training in how to participate in them).
 
  One distinctive feature of the market in illicit information is
  that the principal cost is not the stolen item, which after all
  is not normally discovered to be missing, but rather the risk of
  getting caught.  Unfortunately that risk is usually pretty small,
  although the cost associated with getting caught can be large if
  civil liability is clearly defined or if professional reputations
  are at stake -- not normally the case with mass-market personal
  information, which is typically handled by low-paid clerical
  workers.
 
  But the really important thing about the illegal information
  market is that it is so similar to the *legal* information
  market.  It has much the same structure, although advertising
  and other market-making institutions don't work the same way.
  The similarity is particular striking at the commodity end of the
  market -- the market in personal information.  In practice there
  is one huge industry, all of which depends on the same basically
  immoral device: taking information that you left behind somewhere,
  for some specific purpose, and diverting it to an unlimited
  variety of other purposes.  The status of this diversion is,
  unfortunately, not very well defined at all, either under common
  law or the statutes of most countries -- particularly the United
  States.  The line between legal and illegal information selling
  is thoroughly vague, enforcement is minimal, public awareness is
  inchoate, obfuscation is rampant, and the economic incentives to
  collect information and to deceive people about its intended uses
  are massive.
 
  The next question is what can be done about this dire situation.
  For some possible answers, look out for future issues of TNO.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  What's happening up north, eh?
 
  Leslie Regan Shade
  McGill University
  Graduate Program in Communications
  [log in to unmask]
 
  One of the difficulties and risks academics face in writing
  about current developments in technology--particularly networking
  technology-- is that by the time the articles go through the
  typical blind referred mill, which averages somewhere between 6-12
  months before actual publication, some of the information in the
  articles might be painfully out of date.
 
  For instance, in my recently published article, "Computer
  Networking in Canada: from CA*net to CANARIE", (_Canadian Journal
  of Communication_, vol.  19, 1994, p. 53-69), I wrote:
 
  "So far, there has been little public discussion and debate
  on CANARIE, aside from those in the academic, industrial, and
  government sectors.  For instance, the media might mention in
  passing the need to create an 'electronic superhighway' but
  CANARIE has not become a household name" [p.60].
 
  (CANARIE--the Canadian Research Network for the Advancement of
  Research, Industry, and Education--is essentially the Canadian
  archetype of the NREN).
 
  Well, since these words were written last April, the hyperbole
  surrounding the "information super-highway" has certainly hit
  Canada.  No, CANARIE is not yet a household name, but it has
  been mentioned in the media more in the last month than in the
  whole of last year.  And, our new Premier, Jean Chretien, in his
  Throne Speech, mentioned briefly the need to upgrade the existing
  network.
 
  An apropos-to-our-current-weather (coldest January in about 50
  years) cartoon, reprinted from the Palm Beach Post by Don Wright
  (_Globe and Mail_, February 3): snowy landscape, buried car,
  voices in house say: "Another ferocious blizzard! No power!
  No phone! No TV! No computer!  We're totally cut off from
  the information superhighway!"  Another voice says: "Isn't it
  wonderful?"
 
  Is this why Le Groupe Videotron Ltee. of Montreal thinks their
  newest venture will be a hit here?  They recently announced a
  partnership with 6 companies, including Canada Post, Hydro Quebec,
  Loto-Quebec, the National Bank of Canada, and Hearst Corp., to
  build a $750-million interactive network in Quebec, whose purpose
  will be to bring home shopping and banking, purchase of lottery
  tickets, and payment of bills, to over 34,000 coach potatoes by
  1995.  It is true that Quebecers suffer from long, cold winters.
  Just think: we can comfortably sit at home programming our TV to
  feature a myriad of different camera angles of our favorite hockey
  teams, while using up more hydro, whose bills we can pay directly
  through tthe TV, and--we can hope to win millions playing the
  lottery so that we can move to warmer and sunnier climes...
 
  The ghosts of Telidon and Alex (Bell Canada's defunct videotext
  system), loom largely as I ponder Videotron's strategy.
 
  None of the editorials and articles I've read in the Canadian
  media exude any real confidence that the 500-Channel Universe is
  a Great Thing.  Most are skeptical.  And remember, many Canadians
  are concerned about maintaining Canadian content.  Jack Valenti
  doesn't exactly inspire the Red Carpet Treatment in some circles
  here.
 
  This week's 2-day conference in Toronto, "The Information
  Superhighway: Powering Up North America", brought together all
  the Big Names and Heavy Shakers (the "great minds") that will
  purportedly fashion the highway.  Like many others, I was not
  able to attend the conference--yes, the $995.00 plus GST fee was
  slightly steep for me this month.  However, I got a good, free
  sampling of what the conference was about--"Futurescape: Canada's
  Information Highway", was a 12-page advertising supplement to the
  _Globe and Mail_, January 26.  It was put out by the Information
  Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).
 
  The Great Minds included the U.S. presidents of Bell Atlantic,
  Oracle, Sprint, and Thinking Machines; the heads of Canadian
  firms such as Unitel, Newbridge, Rogers Cable; some MIT
  folks--Negroponte and Russell Neuman; Vint Cerf (typo'ed as
  "President, Internet"), and various and sundry such as Bob Rae,
  Premier of Ontario.
 
  ITAC President and CEO Janice Moyer was quoted as saying that
  the target audience for the conference "reflects the diversity
  of interests that will be affected by the Information Highway:
  enterprise leaders; corporate alliance and change planners;
  competition catalysers; information managers; policy makers;
  senior managers; telecommunications executives; and marketers."
 
  Indeed, Geoffrey Rowan, reporting on the conference in the
  February 2nd _Globe and Mail_, wrote: "[The conference] sounded
  more like a sales pitch than the visionary big thinking it was
  advertised to be".
 
  Whither the public?
 
  In my aforementioned article, I concluded by saying: "It
  would appear that, to date, however, CANARIE has borrowed
  only the technical spirit, and not the social or legal tone,
  of its counterpart, the NREN.  The lively debate in the U.S. now
  regarding access and policy issues should galvanize Canadians
  to consider how they will address such important and fundamental
  issues.  What are the implications of a predominantly privately
  owned network?  Will this increase the commercialization of
  networking resources? Will Canada's heterogeneous networking
  community, including K-12 schools, non-profit organizations,
  freenets, local BBSs, and public libraries have access to CANARIE
  resources, or will networking still remain within the prevailing
  provenance of academic and industry?"  [p.68]
 
  On the second day of the "Powering Up" conference, Jon Gerrard,
  Secretary of State for Science, Research, and Development,
  announced that Ottawa will strive to implement policies to address
  issues such as job creation; cultural sovereignty and cultural
  identity; and universal access at a universal cost.  He also
  mentioned the success of efforts such as civic freenets and
  educational networks such as SchoolNet.
 
  But, the Canadian public is still not as organized as our Southern
  neighbors.  We don't have the equivalent to the EFF or CPSR here.
  There are some small beginnings, though:
 
  *The Coalition for Public Information, an initiative of the
  Ontario Library Association, is a new group whose aims are to
  "ensure that the developing information infrastructure in Canada
  serves the public interest, focuses on human communication, and
  provides universal access to information".  The Coalition plans to
  build a broad coalition of public interest groups.
 
  *Prime Minister Jean Chretien isn't online yet, but the Premier
  of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna, is.  You can contact him at
  [log in to unmask]  Also, New Brunswick has appointed the first
  provincial minister responsible for the Information Highway.
 
  *The free-net movement in Canada is burgeoning.  The National
  Capital FreeNet (NCF) in Ottawa has been officially up for
  just a year, yet already has more than 12,000 members and over
  100 national, provincial, regional, and local organizations
  participating. (Telnet to freenet.carleton.ca).  Freenets
  in Victoria and Trail, B.C. are up; and 16 other organizing
  committees are in the works. The Toronto and Vancouver freenets
  are hoping to open up this spring.  A national organization (akin
  to the NPTN) is in progress.
 
  Future issues of TNO will feature more detailed examples of
  Canadian initiatives in public networking.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  666.
 
  Here's an excerpt from the CPSR publication CPSR Alert 3.04, sent
  out by Dave Banisar <[log in to unmask]>:
 
  The Defense Department reportedly plans to employ the Clipper
  technology in a device known as a "Tessera Card."  We checked the
  dictionary and found the results to be kind of frightening:
 
    Terrerea n. Lat. (pl. tessereae).  Literally, "four-cornered".
    Used to refer to four-legged tables, chairs, stools, etc.
    Also, a single piece of mosaic tile; a single piece of a mosaic.
    _Pol._: An identity chit or marker.  Tessereae were forced on
    conquered peoples and domestic slaves by their Roman occupiers
    or owners.  Slaves or Gauls who refused to accept a tesserea
    were branded or maimed as a form of identification.
 
  From Starr's History of the Classical World and the Oxford
  Unabridged.  (thanks to Clark Matthews)
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  This month's recommendations.
 
  John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars: State, Culture, and
  Rebellion in California, Berkeley: University of California Press,
  1992.  A history of fights over water resources in Owens Valley in
  eastern California.  The city of Los Angeles took over the water
  through dirty politics in the 1920's, and the citizens of Owens
  Valley have been fighting back ever since -- particularly during
  the 1980's, when they won a lot of the water back by appealing
  to environmental laws.  Walton's book makes two contributions:
  first, a detailed and compelling picture of the early West that
  has little or nothing to do with the classical John Wayne picture
  of individualism; and second, a longitudinal study of collective
  action and its cultural background.  The people of Owens Valley
  understood their situation in particular ways in each decade;
  this cultural understanding can be explained historically, and it
  in turn helps explain what the people did and why it succeeded or
  failed.
 
  Ralph H. Kilmann, Mary J. Saxton, and Roy Serpa, eds, Gaining
  Control of the Corporate Culture, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,
  1986.  This is a truly scary anthology of articles about how
  managers can evaluate and intervene in the "corporate cultures"
  underneath them.  Nothing's wrong with a little harmless morale
  boosting, of course, but these folks are particularly disturbed
  when workers decide that something is down-deep wrong with the
  system and start doing something about it.  I most particularly
  recommend Vijay Sathe's chilling article, "How to decipher and
  change corporate culture".  Stalin and his ilk have established
  our stereotypes of the "engineers of human souls", but they can't
  hold a candle to the forces of the market.
 
  William A. Smalley, Chia Koua Vang, and Gnia Yee Yang, Mother of
  Writing: The Origin and Development of a Hmong Messianic Script,
  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.  A perfectly
  wonderful work of linguistic anthropology about a fellow named
  Shong Lue Yang, an uneducated Hmong who invented a linguistically
  sophisticated alphabet in the late 1950s and led a messianic cult
  in the midst of a massive civil war for about fifteen years before
  he was killed by the Hmong military establishment.  A couple
  chapters of the book are the believers' stories about Shong Lue,
  told by the second and third authors who are two of his main
  followers.  Smalley then retells some history and then dissects
  the writing system.  He concludes that the writing system was
  not influenced in any significant way by other writing systems
  and that Shong Lue really did come up with it himself.  The most
  interesting linguistic idea is that an alphabet reflects a folk
  phonology; alphabets are arranged into a hierarchy depending on
  the detail to which they embody a theory of the phonology of the
  language.
 
  Dolores Hayden, Redesigning the American Dream: The Future
  of Housing, Work, and Family Life, New York: Norton, 1984.
  A fascinating and thoroughly original feminist history and
  critique of the American postwar suburbs.  The book starts with
  a vignette of a WWII-era town built for women who were working in
  a ship-building plant, where the entire town was designed around
  the coordination of work and child-care.  The suburb, of course,
  is based on different gendered images of family life, based on
  the premise of a man's "family wage".  Many of the planned suburbs
  were flagrantly racist, abetted by FHA policies.  Hayden discusses
  many largely forgotten alternative traditions and images of
  housing, for example in the temperance movement.  Many progressive
  housing movements just addressed distributing the housing rather
  than the basic assumptions underlying it.  To rethink housing, she
  argues, you have to rethink both private and public life.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  Company of the month.
 
  This month's company is
 
  R R Donnelley Information Services
  77 West Wacker Drive
  Chicago, Illinois  60601-8000
 
  +1 (312) 326-8000
 
  R R Donnelley is the world's largest printing company.  Many in
  the United States might be familiar with RRD's phone book, "The
  Donnelley Directory".  Telephone books involve large amounts
  of personal information and large amounts of printing.  And R R
  Donnelley's business is in the intersection of those two concerns.
 
  What else requires large amounts of both personal information
  and printing?  Direct mail, of course.  One of RRD's businesses
  is Metromail, which offers targeted marketing services to a wide
  range of business customers.  RRD's literature presents a truly
  amazing variety of scenarios for information-intensive targeted
  marketing, including both customized analysis of customer data
  and customized preparation and printing of direct mail items.
 
  RRD is the going to play a big role in the future evolution
  of computerized marketing, and I encourage you to find out more
  about them.  I am NOT, however, recommending that you harass them.
  Don't request the brochures on Metromail and RRD's other services
  unless you are genuinely interested in reading them.  Thanks.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  Abstract of the month.
 
  Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., African Americans and privacy: Understanding
  the black perspective in the emerging policy debate, Journal of
  Black Studies 24(2), 1993, pages 178-195.
 
  Analysis, group interviews, questionnaires and telephone
  interview responses indicate that Afro-Americans perceive invasion
  of privacy in a manner different from that of other Americans,
  due to the discrimination directed against them.  Public protests
  over direct mail and telemarketing as invasions of privacy do not
  bother African Americans.
 
  This abstract comes from the "Mags" database of the University of
  California Libraries' clunky but nonetheless indispensible Melvyl
  system, which is a product of Information Access Company (IAC).
 
  Incidentally, I recommend everything that Oscar Gandy has ever
  written.  Of particular relevance to TNO are:
 
  Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., Public relations and public policy: The
  structuration of dominance in the information age, in Elizabeth L.
  Toth and Robert L. Heath, eds, Rhetorical and Critical Approaches
  to Public Relations, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1992.
 
  Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., The Panoptic Sort: A Political Economy of
  Personal Information, Boulder: Westview Press, 1993.
 
  Oscar H. Gandy, Jr., Beyond Agenda Setting: Information Subsidies
  and Public Policy, Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1982.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  Follow-up.
 
  Jonathan Hardwick <[log in to unmask]> tells me that David Chapman's
  "How to Do Research at the MIT AI Lab", mentioned in TNO 1(1), is
  available on the WWW.  He says, "Just feed the URL
 
  http://cs.indiana.edu/docproject/mit.research.how.to/mit.research.how.to.html
 
  to your favorite WWW client (e.g. Mosaic)."  Check it out.
 
  Also, courtesy of Tom Galloway, David's how-to is also available
  from the RRE archives.  Send a note that looks like:
 
    To: [log in to unmask]
    Subject: archive send howto.tex
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  Phil Agre, editor                                [log in to unmask]
  Department of Communication
  University of California, San Diego           +1 (619) 534-6328
  La Jolla, California  92093-0503                   FAX 534-7315
  USA
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  The Network Observer is distributed through the Red Rock Eater
  News Service.  To subscribe to RRE, send a message to the RRE
  server, [log in to unmask], whose subject line reads
  "subscribe firstname lastname", for example "Subject: subscribe
  Jane Doe".  For more information about the Red Rock Eater, send
  a message to that same address with a subject line of "help".
  For back issues etc, use a subject line of "archive send index".
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  Copyright 1994 by the editor.  You may forward this issue of The
  Network Observer electronically to anyone for any non-commercial
  purpose.  Comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

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