|Published by NetAction||Issue No. 30||November 18, 1997|
I've heard the same speech twice, now, from John Parry Barlow, and it sounded just as absurd the second time as it had the first. According to Barlow, the Internet is making it possible for every human being on the planet to speak his or her mind freely. Everyone!
Apparently Barlow isn't aware that there are millions of people on this planet who live without electricity or telephone service, millions who are illiterate, millions -- even here in the U.S. -- who cannot afford a computer. And, more to the point, there are still many places on the planet where people risk death or torture for speaking their minds. The Internet is about as useful for these people as Barlow's overblown rhetoric.
While universal access is a worthy goal, we're a long way from a fully wired world. And for those of us concerned about public policy, the issue of information technology literacy is among those still to be resolved.
The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council has extended a broad call for public comment on the issue of information technology literacy in an effort to define what everyone needs to know about information technology. CSTB is attempting to develop a consensus for the appropriate definitions of such basic concepts as "everyone, know, and information technology."
CSTB has issued a set of questions for which it hopes to generate a broad response. The questions and details on how to submit comments to CSTB can be found at: http://www2.nas.edu/cstbweb/549a.html. (NOTE: This URL is no longer valid as of 05/23/2001).
Social Justice Connections, an Arlington, VA-based organization that advises groups working for progressive social change, has posted a Movement-Building Test for State and National Organizations on its Web site, at: http://www.shentel.net/sjc/test.html.
The test is intended to help organizations assess how well their contributions of time, energy and money are helping to build a grassroots-based progressive movement. The site also provides links to Web sites for organizations working for social justice, commentary on the role of progressive organizations, and information about the organization's services.
The site is at: http://www.shentel.net/sjc/home.html.
NetAction is now an affiliate of the Electronic Policy Network (EPN), which is sponsored by The American Prospect magazine.
EPN is a network of think tanks, research institutes, and advocacy groups which put their policy information on the Web to make it more accessible. The site is used by students, journalists, legislative staff, and researchers interested in non-partisan, progressive public policy. It serves as a convenient starting point for obtaining information on a range of policy issues.
EPN will be featuring NetAction's recently released White Paper on Microsoft in an upcoming edition of Media Old & New. The White Paper, "From Microsoft Word to Microsoft World: How Microsoft is Building a Global Monopoly," is a comprehensive examination of Microsoft's business strategy. The report is on NetAction's Web site, at: http://www.netaction.org/msoft/world/.
NetAction Notes is a free electronic newsletter, published by NetAction. NetAction is a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting use of the Internet for grassroots citizen action, and to educating the public, policy makers, and the media about technology policy issues.
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