Re: valuables

jaxun (
Thu, 28 Aug 1997 14:38:58 -0700 (PDT)

Michael Betancourt <> wrote:
>I can understand your fears about the internet.
>I can also understand your son's fears about his own failings. It is much
>easier to let someone/thing else decide for us than to take the
>responsibility for deciding on our own.

This is indeed a pitfall of such mechanisms, social or technological. What
I now wonder is if we can find some kind of acceptable middle way.

>It is important not to lose sight of what is at issue here.

There are several things at issue here. As Scott Peck wrote, everything is
overdetermined. Among other things...

>It's a matter of access, not to the internet, but between people. The
>internet is a *horizontal* mass communication device, the only one that has
>ever been successfully constructed.

It is atleast as much a matter of access to content, which exists on the net
whether the creator is connected and creating at the time the viewer is
seeing it or not. The intent of the viewer must also be considered amidst
all this freedom. The content doesn't exist in a vacuum; it's not being
created in and offered to an all-adult world.

>That means that, ideally, anyone can communicate with anyone else who is
>connected to the network. Such a situation is very threatening to many
>people, not just those who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo
>in place -- because it proposes the potential for a judgement based on
>qualities of character and temprament, rather than physical realities.
>It is not possible to "tell" what kind of person is speaking except by their
>words, images, web pages... we do not encounter the I qua physicality, only
>the I qua geist or "spirit".

This is one of net's most redeeming qualities, as far as I'm concerned, but
still does not make the medium any more a communications panacea than TV was
predicted to be when it was developed. It still involves humans and all our
splendid imperfections and unpredictability. Why is unrestricted access to
all forms of content and communication better than limited access in the
context of a specific environment where these solutions are being
implemented (schools, libraries, etc.)?

>So when we begin to speak of any kind of limiting device, what we are
>proposing is closing the potential for generating the necessary empathy
>through understanding each other. Once we start to close this door even a
>crack, it has the bad tendency to slam shut in our faces.
>Once we turn our rights to controll ourselves and our own actions over to a
>distant authority (which is what CyberPatrol is, afterall) we become
>slaves, even if we don't recognize our chains or realize who the masters are.

Is it neccesary to take the issue to this extreme? I don't think we get any
closer to an understanding or a comprehensive solution to the problem being
addressed by taking an either/or stance.

What alternative is suggested by our "strenuous opposition"? Are we seeking
another way, or just saying NO to all such efforts and closing the
discussion? How does this represent our dedication to "open
communications"? What was that about slamming doors again?

I think that overdramatizing the issue in this case is just as bad as
ignoring it altogether. As artists who want to demonstrate compassion and
understanding to (and receive from!) our audiences, shouldn't we be working
just as hard to help address these issues as we are to knock down ideas and
tools being presented to help sort this out?

All just opinions...

j a x u n @ i d i o m . c o m . . .
. . . . . j a x u n @ a r t . n e t. .
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