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Re: Digital Books (Was "Digital Dark Age")



>
>I honestly can't understand how you can say this. A very respectable
>computer costs under $1,000 these days, and the used market is in the low
>hundreds. Many libraries have free computers with internet access, internet
>access cost from free (freenets) to perhaps $40/mnth for high speed cable
>modem.
>

Remember there are still people who must use a food shelf each week to make
ends meet.  How would they afford a used computer for a few hundred dollars
when they can't afford to feed themselves.  Yes, they could go to their
public library and use the machines there for free.  But I imagine that
someone in such a situation (having been close myself at points) would find
something more productive to do with there time; like get a second or third
job.

>Five years ago the only people on the internet were university people and
>professionals. Today its everybody. Two years ago, my carpenter cousin told
>me he was chatting about his favorite web sites with another carpenter while
>shingling a roof. Its much more widespread today.


Not admitting to too much....  When I first had a drug habit (please take
note of the past tense) I found it amazing that everyone seemed to use
drugs.  Everywhere I turned people were using.  As it turns out it was only
the environment I was in where people were using.  I think the same is
happening in your statement; everyone in your environment in online.

Yes, the size of the online community has grown over the years, but the
relative size compared to the population of the US (not to mention the
world) as a whole is small.  Growing yes, but still small and highly
elitist.


>Nothing has given power to the
>people like microcomputers.

This I do agree with, very much.  Just you wait until a *highly*
significant number of the world wide population actually gets online and
organize themselves. :)



>
>While a single book is cheap to buy, books are expensive to make, require
>expensive machinery and skill, and even more to distribute. The internet
>allows every voice to speak, and more important, to be heard. Not just those
>with several thousand dollars for printing and distribution. It is the first
>many to many system in history.

During a class I once took we looked at how polling was done and the idea
of true randomness in a poll.  If one were to place a poll in a local paper
looking for the opinion of the local population on a particular subject the
results of the poll would be subject to question.  First, only those who
answered the poll were heard.  What about all those who read the poll and
did not answer?  Second, the only respondents were those who read/received
the paper.  What about those who never saw the poll?  Even if the poll was
done by randomly picking numbers from a phone book it's still biased
against those who are unlisted or don't have a phone.  It's back the a
question of one's environment; or more accurately the segment of the
population in which one resides (i.e. computer literate / non-computer
literate, phone owner / non-phone owner, newspaper reader, non-newspaper
reader.)

I think your many to many statement should be looked at as really saying
many with access to and knowledge of the the WWW to many with similar
access and knowledge.


>
>I see a collapse of the class structure as the literacy and skill
>requirements for
>the skilled trades increase and the corresponding  need for management
>declines.
>

You say that you see the requirements for skilled trades increasing.  How
is someone who would have trouble buying a used computer for a few hundred
dollars going to increase their skill base (which I assume will cost them
money). Grants, loans...perhaps.  But, they also need the time to do so (I
am still sticking with the multiple job scenario) and there are other
hidden costs such as gas (or a bus pass) and general supplies (which are
often but not always covered by student loans).


>I see a more inclusive and less exclusive society.

Do you think the inclusivity will be conditional?  Meaning that one will be
included if one has the proper knowledge.  Similar to early suburban North
America where if you didn't keep up the appearance of a solid family with a
well groomed lawn you might be looked down upon as unfit for the
neighborhood.

*************************************

Happiness bought and paid for
is happiness none the less.

Duncan
<dmc@minn.net>

*************************************


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