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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  January 1995, Week 1

COMMUNET January 1995, Week 1

Subject:

Gingrich vs. Clinton crowd on hardware

From:

"David H. Rothman" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Communet: Community and Civic Network Discussion List

Date:

Fri, 6 Jan 1995 04:44:35 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (110 lines)

     Folks, here's more proof that the White House has been clueless on the
hardware question. While the Clinton people fixate on computers for post
offices, Newt Gingrich is talking about *home* computers for low-income people.
     According to a dispatch from Reuter, he gave the House Ways and Means
Committee "what he called 'a nutty idea,' to get members 'thinking beyond
the norm.'
     "'Maybe we need a tax credit for the poorest Americans to buy a
laptop,' he said.
     "'Now, maybe that's wrong, maybe it's expensive, maybe we can't do it,
but I'll tell you, any signal we can send to the poorest Americans that
says, "We're going into a 21st century, third wave information age, and so
are you, and we want to carry you with us," begins to change the game.'"
     Of course, I'd argue for a school-and-library-based, TeleRead-style
program to give low-income folks the support they need to get started at
home--but Gingrich has the basic idea right.
     Gingrich isn't making low-income Americas adapt to the needs of a
bureausaurus like the post office. He wants the hardware right there on the
kitchen table.
     Heck, Gingrich may even be keen on Communets. We know already that he's
much friendlier to the idea of government info online than many expected
(though we're still a long way from nirvana).
     Sooner or later, maybe my fellow Dems will finally figure out why they
lost so big last November. Americans want help for themselves, not just the
usual institutions and special-interest groups. Like many others on the
list, I see important roles for schools and libraries in the NII, but let's
not forget the home. Gingrich didn't. Al and Bill, it's *your* turn. What
about that little neighbor-girl of Al who's supposed to be able to dial up
the Library of Congress from home?
     --David Rothman
          [log in to unmask]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
At 02:52 PM 1/5/95 -0800, Tom Karwin wrote:
>>Actually I see there's a yet better definition lurking around: "without
>>haste, slowly."
>>
>>Exactly! That's how an informative book or a Net should be absorbed, and why
>>I *hate* the idea of computers in  post office lobbies (at least as the main
>>show!), as opposed to libraries.
>>
>>-David Rothman
>> [log in to unmask]
>
>I know this is an old thread, but I'm just catching up after a period of
>intense activity, and I'd like to add my two cents to the debate over the
>relative appropriateness of post offices and libraries as public points of
>access to the information highway.
>
>My impression of the the post office, like that of many others, I think, is
>that it is a relatively cold and impersonal local manifestation of the
>federal bureaucracy that gets a lot of flack for occasionally losing or
>mangling mail and too-frequently raising its rate. My experience with the
>post office, on the other hand, is that it is the cheapest and most
>reliable way of get information and "stuff" from one place to another. As I
>imagine the post office of the future, I cannot visualize as something
>separate from the info hwy. Telecommunication really must be a major part
>of the PO's future.
>
>Libraries, on the other hand, are essentially local institutions with
>really helpful people that one gets to know over time, who are information
>specialists (not delivery specialists), and who have been thinking about
>and working with digitized information for many years. However, libraries
>traditionally have been essentially archives, not delivery services. While
>I would expect libraries to use a wide range of digital resources -
>including telecommunication technology - to upgrade their services
>continually, I would not necessarily expect them to assume a major role in
>all aspects of public networking: e-mail, for example, seems much more
>appropriately supported by the post office than the library. (Electronic
>file transfers might appear analogous to inter-library loan, electronic
>fund transfers might seem more like an up-dated version of the Brinks
>delivery service, etc.)
>
>So (thinking aloud, so to speak), both institutions might well have a role
>in broadening access to the info hwy.
>
>In imagining alternative scenarios, by the way, we should free ourselves
>from the vision new kiosks in old places, i.e., the lobby of the post
>office or the reading room of the public library. Really, that's a very
>limiting perspective. Post offices already have input-output points (public
>and private mail boxes) all over the community, and do not require people
>to come to the lobby, so why should we assume that post offices would put
>info hwy kiosks only in their lobbies?
>
>Public libraries, including branch librarie (being respositories of
>physical materials), tend to be more facilities-bound but they too strive
>to improve their accessibility through inter-library loan programs,
>bookmobiles, etc. They might very well place their kiosks in schools,
>community centers, etc.
>
>VP Gore's suggestion that post offices should provide access to the highway
>is completely unsurprising, because (a) post offices are federal facilities
>(unlike the vast majority of public libraries), (b) at least some of the
>more important uses of the highway are logical extensions of the post
>office's historical role, and (c) if the post offices were to be barred
>from offering telecommunication services, they probably would go into a
>long, slow downward spiral, at considerable cost to the taxpayers.
>
>Tom Karwin
>Coordinator of Educational Advancement
>Division of Natural Sciences
>University of California, Santa Cruz
>[log in to unmask]
>

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