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I n f o r m a t i o n, C o m m u n i c a t i o n, S u p p l y
E L E C T R O Z I N E
Established in 1993 by Deva Winblood
Information Communication Supply 10/5/93 Vol.1:Issue 8-1.
Email To: ORG_ZINE@WSC.COLORADO.EDU
E D I T O R S: Local Alias: Email: ICS Positions:
============== ============ ====== ==============
Jeremy Bek rApIeR STU521279258 Technical Director,Layout,
Role Playing Games,
Steven Peterson Rufus Firefly STU388801940 Managing Editor, Writer
Russel Hutchinson Burnout Writer, Subscriptions,
Jason Manczur GReY KnYgHT STU523356717 Writer,Poet,Editing
Deva Winblood MeTaL MaSTeR, ADP_DEVA Ask Deva, Tales of the
Ephemeral Unknown, Editing
George Sibley MAC_FAC FAC_SIBLEY Editing, Supervisor
|"Art helps us accept the human condition; |
| technology changes it." |
\ - D.B. Smith /
| ICS is an Electrozine distributed by students of Western State |
| College in Gunnison, Colorado. We are here to gather information about |
| topics that are important to us all as human beings. If you would like |
| to send in a submission please type it into an ASCII format and mail it |
| to us. We operate on the assumption that if you mail us something you |
| want it to be published. We will do our best to make sure it is |
| distributed and will always inform you when or if it is used. |
| See the end of this issue for submission information. |
REDISTRIBUTION: If any part of this issue is copied or used elsewhere
you must give credit to the author and indicate that the information
came from ICS Electrozine ORG_ZINE@WSC.COLORADO.EDU.
DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the
views of the editors of ICS. Contributors to ICS assume all responsibility
for ensuring that articles/submissions are not violating copyright laws
| \ / |
| \ T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S / |
| / \ |
| /________________________________________________\ |
| Included in the table of contents you will see some|
| generic symbols to help you in making your |
| decisions on whether an article is something that |
| may use ideas, and/or language that could be |
| offensive to some. S = Sexual Content |
| AL = Adult Language V = Violence O = Opinions |
| 1) First Word ................ By Steven Peterson |
| 2) Building a School |
| Without Buildings .......... By Ken Blystone |
| 3) Creation .................. By Jason Manzcur |
| 4) New Prejudices [O] ......... By Steven Peterson |
| 5) The Man In The Ice ........ By Mark T. McMeans |
by Steven Peterson
As Jeremy noted in the last issue (7-2), I have assumed the managing
editor role for ICS. To be honest, I have been somewhat overwhelmed by
the infinite possibilities the information diaspora of the 90's presents.
Riding my first "waves" on the net has truly been a mind expanding experience.
In my efforts here at ICS, I will try to remain true to Deva's vision: create
a 'zine which brings a variety of viewpoints and perspectives together in
order to examine the human condition and the technology which changes it.
So far, most of my efforts have centered around the background
(or administrative) chores required to gain a measure of legitimacy on
our campus. Not very exciting, but very challenging. Balancing the conflicting
desires for flexibility and stability poses a difficult problem - one I hope
Two bits about myself : I am often identified as a "non-traditional"
(and unconventional) student - one who has returned to formal education
after a ten-year hiatus with a mission. ICS offers me an opportunity
no budding writer could refuse: access to a world-wide audience.
In this issue, we lead off with a submission from one of our readers
in El Paso, Texas which describes a functioning, practical use of
tele-communications technology in education. Perhaps the lesson of this
one school district can serve the rest of our nation as a model. Print out
a copy of the article and submit it to your local school board -
we could start a movement (sing a few bars of Alice's Restaurant while
you're there). Then, Jason, our resident mystic, checks in with a poem.
After the poem, I offer the next installment in my "New Prejudices" series.
This time around, I call for the end of commercially televised political
advertisements and the beginning of efforts to bring the democratic process
into the 21st century. We wind up this fragment with another submission from
one of our readers, "The Man in the Ice", a short story which embraces the
existential and the fantastic in a tale of liberation.
P.S. Our lead quote is from "Axioms for English in a
Technical Age" by D.B. Smith, published in
_College English_, vol.48, #6, 10/86. 567-79.
Building a School Without Buildings
By Ken Blystone
Thousands of students in El Paso, Texas are going to school without leaving
home. They "travel" to school via computer modem, meeting in new electronic
hallways and classrooms not because they have to attend, but because they want
to. This summer, students from all parts of the city will attend the Academy
Virtual School. This new electronic school provides kids of all ages a fun and
exciting place to gather. It is a safe environment that can be explored from
home under parental supervision, and local public schools are starting to
catch on to the concept.
Over the past decade, telecomputing activities have become highly popular
with children. This has caused rapid growth in local, regional, and national
educational computer networks. Computers attached to modems allow computer
users to transmit and receive text files, software programs, digitized images,
and digital music over standard telephone lines. Such activities are becoming
commonplace for computer users, especially for young people who have computers
in their homes.
Public schools have recognized the need to teach students how to use
computers and have installed many machines for this purpose. But the
educational use of computers has focused primarily on using the computer
in a "stand-alone" fashion. Now, more and more schools are beginning to connect
their computers to instructional networks by purchasing modems and linking
their computers together through the telephone system. Schools have found that
it is easy and relatively inexpensive to start a campus-based computer network.
Last school year, five public schools in El Paso started educational campus
-based systems run by teachers. Del Valle High School, Wiggs Middle School,
Desert View Middle School, Indian Ridge Middle School, and Eastwood Heights
Elementary each run a campus computer their students can call. Each school
system is connected to FidoNet, a 22,000 member computer network established
FidoNet is a "grassroots" network that provides connectivity for millions
of people all over the world at little or no cost. The UTEP College of
Education sponsors a system on this network to allow future teachers the
opportunity to be mentored by experienced teachers. Since many of the
electronic conferences on FidoNet are "gated" to Internet, many non-university
people (parents and public school children) now have access to Internet
In 1990, a group of teachers in the United States and Canada started the
International K12 Network. Operating as a sub-set of FidoNet, the K12 Network
has spread to nearly 500 systems in 12 countries in only three years. By "piggy
backing" the smaller K12Net on the larger structure of FidoNet, students and
teachers are the winners.
Using school computers connected to FidoNet/K12Net, students and teachers
have the ability to form friendships with people all over the world. The
familiar term "pen-pals" is changing into "key-pals" since children now use
keyboards instead of pens to write to each other. Teachers from around the
world volunteer their time and expertise to make the system work.
The French teacher at Desert View Middle School, Toy Wong, uses the K12
Network in her classroom to help students learn the language and culture of
France. Her students are encouraged to write e-mail messages in French to
students in France or Canada. After students in France receive messages from
students in El Paso, they respond in English (the language they are trying to
learn) through the computer network. Since messages are transmitted
electronically, it is usually only a matter of hours before the mail is
"delivered." This makes the process of key-pals much more interactive than
pen-pals since hand delivered letters to distant countries can take days or
even weeks to deliver.
In addition to using computer networks for key-pal activities, schools have
found many other instructional benefits of telecomputing. Students can use
modems to tap into electronic libraries to look up information stored in
computer databases. Some systems allow students to take tests on-line that are
automatically scored and recorded. Students also use telecomputing to work
collaboratively on the creation of digital artwork and music. Most K12 Network
systems make free educational software available to teachers and students
through a process known as downloading.
On-line peer tutoring is also possible on multi-line systems. Callers type
back and forth to each other while connected to the system. This has become one
of the most popular activities for students ages 10 through 18 on the Academy
Virtual School. Students spend many hours on-line each day writing to their
The Academy serves eight school districts in west Texas. Its success can
be measured, in part, by the extent to which local teachers and students have
voluntarily embraced this computer-mediated environment. Over 5,000 students,
teachers, parents, and community participants meet in this electronic
environment without the need for a physical school building.
The Academy is operated by Academy Network Systems, a non-profit
organization dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for students
to learn and teachers to teach via modern telecommunications technology. The
system gets approximately 30,000 calls per month. Through the work of many
dedicated teachers and community volunteers, the Academy Network has grown from
a simple single line system started in 1985 into a dynamic 15 line electronic
school built out of modems and microchips instead of bricks and mortar.
The impact of computer telecommunications on how we conduct education is
likely to be greater than we can presently imagine. As a virtual school, the
Academy is radically different from traditional schools. It remains open 24
hours a day, 365 days a year. Students read lessons, take tests, ask questions
and get answers "virtually" as they would in a traditional physical school
building - but without leaving their keyboard. Instead of students going to
school, the virtual school comes to them through their computer screen.
This school, although it has no physical campus, serves thousands of
students and it only cost $5,000 to create. This is an important fact to
taxpayers and school board members who are looking for economical ways to
provide instruction to children. While a traditional school that serves
thousands of students would cost millions of dollars to build, a virtual
school can be started for a fraction of that cost.
Inasmuch as limited funding is available for desired school improvements,
it is important to understand the potential for new technologies to help bring
about fundamental educational change. By expanding our mind-set from one that
can only conceive of education taking place in a traditional physical school
building to one that includes reaching students using virtual schools, we may
actually be able to provide instruction in new ways.
I encourage parents, teachers, and school board members to work toward the
development of community sponsored virtual schools that serve all children
within their locale. A virtual school can serve the collective educational
needs of students in new and exciting ways. Yet, to be able to take advantage
of electronic schools teachers need access to educational networks. Schools
need the money necessary to buy modems and telephone lines that will allow them
to begin to explore the electronic global village.
Modems and the instant networks they create can join schools, businesses
and homes together. Every minute a child spends in an electronic virtual school
is a minute spent reading and writing--interacting with an educational
community that is global in scope. Electronic schools are interactive,
inclusionary, equalizing, provocative, and educational. Electronic virtual
schools are dynamic and, most importantly, affordable. Electronic learning
environments are changing the way in which children learn. Every day a virtual
school can present the student with new and interesting challenges that
come from a worldwide community of learners.
Love begins with life,
And life begins with love.
When I am with you,
I'm in heaven above.
When I look into your eyes,
I see a shimmering pool,
That I would loose myself in,
If I weren't a fool.
I shall ever be
With granting for you
Your house is a temple,
Your chair is a throne.
Please grant me my only wish,
With you to be alone.
I know I must myself be,
A part of your dreams.
And if I could, I truly would
Stand in your heav'nly beams.
The beams they are the light you shed
Upon the ones you love.
If I could only count myself
I'd take good care of
The warmnth and the tenderness
That come out of your heart.
I know now that I have to be,
Of your life, a part.
From you there comes a beauty,
More than I've ever known.
I'll ever wish to be with you,
And this is set in stone.
I once swore, to myself,
I'd ne'er love again,
But then I looked into your eyes,
And hope became my friend.
There are two types of creation,
One's good, and one's bad.
If I can not be with you
I'll be forever sad.
By Steven Peterson
As we head into 1994, the human race continues to pilot itself
into an unknown future. Along the way, Americans will choose navigators
(or representatives) for this journey through the democratic process of
elections - a method that stumbles over the pitfalls of mass communications
technology. The American practice of using a profit driven industry to
disseminate political information has commercialized our electoral landscape
to a degree which has become insupportable and threatens to destroy the
democratic principles our nation is founded upon.
This being an election year in the U.S., Americans can look forward
to another round of outrageously expensive paid political advertisements.
Produced for dramatic effect, these ads inevitably seem to degenerate into
sound and fury, signifying nothing. It seems obvious that capitalistic
exploitation of the various broadcast mediums undermines or prevents any
effort to present substantial messages to the voting public in our culture.
Commercial television has conditioned viewers to accept a bewildering assault
of images, and trained us to dismiss substance in order to cope with the
"information overload" we are faced with. Conditioned to readily dismiss
what is often presented as fact, television viewers often base their voting
choices on small bits of knowledge gathered from the T.V. network's chaotic
stream of images - one lacking in context and continuity.
Driven by the profit motive, commercial television networks offer a
powerful tool to those who desire positions of power, essentially
raising the price of political participation to a level only a
privileged few can afford. The resulting "industry" of televised
political promotion is consuming a rapidly growing reservoir of funds
euphemistically known as "campaign contributions", and compromising
democratic participation in the process. The relentless solicitation
of these funds by career politicians and their supporters opens a
gateway for commercial and private influences (e.g. the tobacco
industry, the American N.R.A., etc.) which are backed by monied,
minority interests. While it will remain impossible to eliminate
"special interests" from any democracy (in a sense, everything is
someone's special interest), I believe it is possible to limit the
amount of resources any one faction or candidate may squander on
The first step democratic societies must take is to prohibit all
paid political advertisements on commercial television networks. In the
U.S., this prohibition would be a radical step. It would force Americans
to re-examine the criteria we set for our political aspirants. Obviously,
the media is too pervasive in American culture to simply prohibit its
use. In the U.S., we have a pre-existing Public Broadcasting network,
PBS, which could easily serve as a ready forum for political debates
and messages. Ther difficult part is creating a neutral or bi-partisan
group to oversee the fair distribution of available time.
In areas which lack this existing non-profit television network,
democratic political pressure can be brought to bear on existing and
emerging commercial networks to "donate" time as a pre-condition for a
broadcast license. Forcing politicians to return to a literature-driven
campaign format would serve to accomplish two immediate goals: first, it
would fuel a new desire to educate a literate electorate, and second,
it would motivate political aspirants to take greater advantage of the
various computer networks as an effective tool for disseminating
information and exchanging views.
While the merits of the first goal transcend cultural and moral
boundaries, the motives and methods of attaining the second goal require
examination and some degree of control (not to mention funding). So long
as the political atmosphere of democracy continues to reflect the age-
old struggle for power, there will be those who will abuse any device
within their grasp to gain an advantage in the arena of competitive
electoral systems. Political use of computer networks must be dedicated to
interactive participation on an individual and collective level - simply
transferring the flood of hollow images to another medium would only
perpetuate the "cult of superficiality" which characterizes most of the
current political discourse.
Protecting freedom of speech while limiting the resources available to
political aspirants creates an opportunity to redefine the political process
as we now know it in America. The altruistic goals of political participation
no longer insure honest public service. The growing distance between
representatives and their constituents in America enables our politicians
to freely ignore and alter their campaign promises and party platforms
with impunity. Computer access and use offers us another tool to shape and
refine on our electoral landscape. The computer nets provide the a ready
means for widespread, low-cost distribution of official party documents
(i.e. party platforms) to virtually every major population center in our
nation. The distribution architecture could begin in the libraries of
our schools and extend into the homes of everyone who is "on-line". The
shift is one away from entertainment and toward education: using technology
to maintain an informed and aware public which can ultimately set and enforce
measures of accountability for our elected leaders.
The political potential of computer networks extends far beyond
simply distributing information, however. This technology also offers
a means to "collapse" the distances between those who govern and
those who will be governed. Once physical distance is eliminated as a
barrier, a more "direct" form of government becomes possible. Computers
can resolve the logistical problems of greater citizen involvement.
Currrent technology provides a method to digest millions of responses to
queries and create a "virtual dialogue" between individuals from
divergent world-views. Once the dialogue begins, commonalities of
interest will invariably emerge, leading our elected representatives
toward more effective courses of action.
There are, of course, potential problems that surface in any plan to
embrace and utilize this technology in the political sphere. First,
there is the issue of access - all levels of a society must be given and
guaranteed access or face a new sort of poverty. I think of it as the
poverty of influence. No matter the means, if knowledge and influence
are restricted to an elite, no democracy can hope to survive.
Maintaining a non-profit status for computer networks may be a
hopeless pipe-dream in the existential world of monetary costs, but it
is an ideal I feel we must strive for. The relentless pressure of human
avarice will, if allowed, subvert and destroy the potential benefits of
this technology, robbing our children of the opportunity to increase
their level of self-determination and stalling the march of positive
"The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy.
His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful."
- H.L. Mencken
The Man in the Ice
by Mark T. McMeans
The man in the ice occupied a small vacant corner of the bus station.
It was night and the station empty, unusual for the summer season. No one had
heard him that day, and in typical fashion he had drifted off to dreamless
He awoke to the sound of someone nearby. Looking up, he saw a stunning
young lady kneeling at a newspaper rack just a few yards away. "Hello, who
are you?" he said.
She perked up as if she had caught a strange smell, and looked around
giving him a better view.
"You are beautiful!" he said with awe.
She turned. "Who's there?"
The man wasn't sure what he was seeing was true. "You hear me?" he asked
"Yes. So unless you're gonna' mug me, come on out."
"I wish it were that easy," he answered. "But see for yourself. I'm over
here in the corner."
Squinting, she peered in his direction. "Oh no! Not another man on ice!"
she exclaimed. "This must be my lucky day," she mumbled walking away.
No, wait!" he yelled. "You're the only one that can free me!"
"Why's that?" she asked, turning.
"Because you heard me. For two god-forsaken years, I've stood here, calling
and no one has ever heard me. But, today, you came along, and, and we can
communicate. You must be my answer!"
She was curious, but her face revealed skepticism.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, after a pensive pause.
"I came here to get a ticket out of town," he said, "but before I could
board the bus, I found myself trapped in this ice."
She regarded him with raised brows, one hand stroking her chin. "What
were you leaving town for?" she asked.
He paused. He knew the answer, but he wasn't sure he wanted to share it
with this lady. For some reason she made him nervous. And yet, he had to be
"To get away," he said. "The time had come for me to be a man, to grow
up, but I couldn't do it. I ran."
"My past," he laughed, a sad sound. "And my future." As he spoke, his
face grew somber. "I never felt important as a child, a gift from parents too
busy keeping up with the Jones, I suppose. When I came of age, the only thing
I had a hold on was my insecurity. I was afraid, didn't think I could control
my life. There I was, ready to step out on my own, all of that indiscernible
frontier of life before me, and all I had to do was leave my past behind and
become a man."
He took a deep breath, gritting his teeth.
"Only when that time came, I couldn't do it. I ran. And here you see me,
"That's very sad." The way she said it, he found it hard to believe that
she meant it.
"But not now!" he exclaimed. "You've come, and you're the one who can
"Boy, you're just full of lines, aren't you."
"No, I mean it," he said trying to keep the desperation from his voice.
"Everyday, hundreds of people come walking by here. They buy their tickets,
board their buses, and live their lives. Sometimes they glance at me, but
it's like they can't see me, or see me through a veil, like I'm not
completely real to them, just a shadow. So they move on. I try to call
them, and sometimes scream 'till I think I'll explode, but no one ever hears.
"Then the seasons change," he continued. "Summer drifts into fall, and
winter on its heels. The people lessen each day; the cold is too much for
them. Those are the loneliest months. The only people I would see, then,
are the occasional young lovers come to steal a moments privacy late in the
"But now you've come, and you heard me and see me. I'm sure if you just
try, you can save me. You're the one."
"Hmmm..." she said, thoughtfully. "In spite of that, I can't help you."
His heart dropped. "Why not?"
"Because even though I may be the one, that doesn't mean you are. The
last thing I need is a frozen man."
Her words slapped his face. "What?"
"You don't think you will thaw out overnight, do you?"
Her question caught him off guard.
"Believe me, you won't. I've seen this before, and it takes time to get
back on your feet."
"But you can't just leave me here!"
"I won't. I'm gonna' board my bus. If you stay, that's you're choice."
She turned to walk away. Before he could call out to her, she turned back.
"You see, I had a rough childhood, as well. My father was very demanding.
I'd even say jealous. He wanted me always to be his little girl, and didn't
want to share me with anyone else. I lived a life of closed doors and high
fences. When my time came, I chose to live differently. I promised myself I
would never be contained by anyone again."
She looked straight at him, her deep blue eyes piercing his. "That's why
I don't have time for you."
There was a long pause.
"I don't know what to say," he muttered, ashamed. It was true, he had no
right to make her his hero. He knew whose fault his being there was.
"I'm sorry for bothering you," he managed finally. "It was nice speaking
"I'm sure," she said. She cocked her head sideways and looked at him
again. "It must be tough going through life looking for someone to rescue
"You don't know the half of it," he answered shaking his head.
"You never told me your name."
"My name?" He hated this. "I don't have one; I haven't earned it yet."
"You are Unnamed? That explains it all."
It was a great impropriety to ask of another while without, but he had to
know who she really was.
"Wh- what do they call you?"
"Amanda," she answered, nonplussed by his impertinence. "It means 'lead
into gold'." She looked at him then with more compassion than he thought her
capable of. Then, wishing him good day, she turned and walked away.
As he watched her leave, he felt the chill of the ice next to his skin.
But inside, he felt a warmth, growing, like a rain of hot tears. He smiled.
The water dripping from him had already formed a small puddle at his feet.
Copyright (c) 1993 by Mark T McMeans
[Editor's Note: Sorry for the interruption in service; we here at ICS will
strive to maintain our schedule - please forgive.]
| \ / |
| \ T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S / |
| / \ |
| /________________________________________________\ |
| Included in the table of contents you will see some|
| generic symbols to help you in making your |
| decisions on whether an article is something that |
| may use ideas, and/or language that could be |
| offensive to some. S = Sexual Content |
| AL = Adult Language V = Violence O = Opinions |
| 1) E-Mail Culture: The Subversive |
| Sweatshop [O]................ By George Sibley |
| 2) The Wraith of Love .......... By Jason Manzcur |
| 3) Thaumaturgy ................. By Jason Manzcur |
| 4) Letters to the Editor [O] |
| 5) Last Word ................... By Steven Peterson|
EMAIL CULTURE, PART 1: THE SUBVERSIVE SWEATSHOP
By George Sibley, 'Zine Advisor and Cheerleader
I comb my hair everytime before I send email hoping
to appear attractive. I try and use punctuation in
a friendly way also. I send :) and never :(.
--Bill Gates in John Seabrook's
"E-mail from Bill," NEW YORKER 1/10/94
A recent explosion in email use here at Western State College for
in-house communications has me pondering again--as is appropriate
for journalism faculty--the relationship between culture and communication.
Until just this past fall, most intracollege communication here was via
the paper trail and/or the phone; now, suddenly, everybody seems to be on
the net, locally at least; and rather than taking the usual wad of brown
envelopes from my mailbox back to the office to read, where I am usually
interrupted often by the phone, I have to try to reorganize my time to sit
down at least once a day in front of a screen to read and answer email.
This is immediately a new and slightly disorienting cultural experience
for me in a totally unexpected way. Being a pretty low-ranking person here,
I have an old Ford Pinto of a PC in my office but do not yet warrant a VAX
port, so I have to go find an open terminal somewhere else on campus in order
to stay even close to the loop, let alone be in it.
There is a "Faculty Computing Room" on campus for even lower ranking
faculty members than I who don't even warrant the Ford Pinto model of PC.
But there is one faculty person who is apparently writing a book on that
terminal, as he is almost always there. So it is usually easier just to slip
into one of the student computer "labs" to read and answer my mail--if there
is a terminal open there. That's where I am now, as I input these observations.
This process alone--finding an open terminal and then working at it in
a computer lab--has awakened me to an awareness of how sheltered my life has
been to this point. I now recognize what it has meant to grow up in a middle
class that is unconsciously obsessive about privacy. I didn't have a car when
I went to college in 1959, which marks me I guess as "lower middle class," but
I did have a typewriter, which gave me access to that which I have always taken
totally for granted: a "private place" for "thinking on paper."
Accordingly, it is something of a culture shock to go into the sweatshop
environment of a student computer lab, where everyone works elbow-to-elbow in
long ranks of machines. Every college writing teacher probably ought to spend
at least an afternoon a week in such a place to truly understand the thinking-
on-paper he or she receives.
These labs are usually orderly enough, but they are not quiet places.
The machines "breathe"; printers clatter to life, then go quiet; and a few
hundred fingers on keyboards may not make the noise they would on typewriters,
but you still hear them all. But there are people noises too, as you'd expect
in a work environment. Turfs get staked out: nodes of MUDheads cluster
around two or three machines here and there, whispering over their timeshared
fantasies; two or three students bunched around a terminal with prescreen
infofiles (books) propped beside it appear to be group-groping a class project;
a coterie of serious prehackers is chronically present communicating through
adjacent screens and reeking of contempt for everything not them. When someone
has a system problem, or maybe discovers something really clever or sexy in a
fingerprint, larger clusters form, chatter, and disperse to reform elsewhere.
When the MacIntoshs started to "talk," the noise level in the labs went
up another notch. Instead of acknowledging your stupidity with a quiet, user-
friendly beep, one day all the Macs might be mooing, the next they might all
be flushing or barfing. Once here they were all loaded up with a woman's voice
uttering a long orgasmic groan, which everyone seemed to like: for weeks
the lab sounded like a French seaside bordello with the fleet in.
Even when the audible noise level is low, however, it is not like
working alone in one's office. A kind of an elevated energy level always
wafts, occasionally swirls and gusts, through the lab. All those minds working.
And a young strong but still awkward mind just learning the disciplines of
linear thought is a little like a primitive engine starting up on a cold
morning. For one accustomed to the luxury of privacy for thinking, the kind
of uneven, not-quite-humming silence that settles over a college computer lab
when everybody in the room is intensely into whatever it is he or she is
working on--that kind of "noise" in a full room can be either more invigorating
or more disconcerting than any burble and buzz of whispers. Sometimes I seem
to be "channelling" that ambient lab energy into my work on my own terminal;
other times I find myself barely able to control the urge to shout "Fire!"
or to just break out in hysterical laughter. No one would of course even look
up; they'd just assume it was a MacIntosh.
In short, the student labs are pretty lively places, with burgeoning
communal sensibilities--maybe the most vital places you'll find on a campus
today, despite all the millions being poured into "student centers"--where
students mostly go, I think, to fulfill adult expectations that they are
indeed still just irresponsible, immature, pleasure-oriented, self-seeking kids,
growing up to be good consumers.
Growing numbers of students hang out in the labs more than they do
anywhere else, for the company, I'd guess, and access to that ambient lab
energy, but also perhaps because there they feel closer to the edge of a
future than anywhere else on campus--and not necessarily the future planned
Sitting and working in such places, I begin to wonder about their
educational--not to mention the ultimate socio-political-- implications.
Communications theorists talk about the "noise" or static that all
communications systems generate--the unintended and ultimately uncontrollable
random energy fluctuations inherent in the systems themselves. Black educator
and author Jules Henry, in CULTURE AGAINST MAN, contended that education systems
also generate that kind of "noise"--and the noise becomes part of the
educational process, part of the lessons learned: subliminally, unconsciously,
and therefore usually very well.
The "noise" in my own pre-electronic education was mostly about
competition, "personal development," the right to (and lust for) privacy
and the wealth necessary to support it, and all those other fundamentally
antisocial things that Americans have always confused with "individualism."
Most of that is still the formal and culturally sanctioned "noise" in the
system. Students still compete for scholarships and "good schools," compete
for grades in "curved" classes, compete for honors, get indoctrinated
against those forms of sharing defined as "cheating," and are otherwise
prepared to accept as "natural" the aggressive and acommunal culture driven
by self-interest: a world of winners and losers, with the ultimate winners
those possessed of or by a "terminal" existence in utter privacy (e.g., that
modern American legend, Howard Hughes), and the ultimate losers - those
condemned by "laziness" or misfortune to that terminally public life of
But . . . can it be that the computer, one of the greatest achievements
of that privacy-driven culture, is generating pockets of a subtly un-American
"noise" markable by the kind of "sweatshop camaraderie" that once led to
unionization, a communalism of shared information that is dangerously
contemptuous of "intellectual property"? Could the uncontrollable ambient
energy of such places give a new and more ominous sense to the phrase,
Reading the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, I am learn that the counter-
revolution to this is already "coming on-line." Growing numbers of schools--
as one might expect, mostly the "private" schools, where America's winners
send their kids to learn how to bear forward the torch of civilization as they
know it--are installing terminal ports in all their student dorm rooms.
Once that is accomplished, the subversive labs can be dismantled; the primacy
of privacy will be re-affirmed.
The CHRONICLE touts the advantages: students will be able to research
their papers, write their papers, send drafts to their instructors in their
cubicles and get feedback, all without the inconvenience of having to leave
their desks. One projects: it will probably eventually be possible to receive
one's entire education, get one's diploma, get a job, have a long career, and
retire, without ever having to leave one's terminal. (On retirement, one won't
even need a gold watch, since the terminals can tell you the time.)
Either that--or the unquiet, untidy, germ-infested (can you get AIDS from
a keyboard?) sweatshop revolution of the lab, like the one where I sit now,
where someone has just screamed, "Shit! Jesus saves; why didn't I!"
Memo to the administration: better get my office ported in before I'm
NEXT ISSUE: Email and the narrowing and deepening of language.
Replies welcomed at "Fac_Sibley@WSC.Colorado.EDU"
The Wraith of Love
I work to earn money,
Just to spend on you.
The gifts, from my heart,
Are for you my true.
The love I feel inside
Is for you alone.
If you find out who wrote this
My cover's been blown.
I hide myself
As a too happy clown,
But inside this person,
Is a ne'er ending frown.
The reason I mourn,
Is 'cause you don't feel the same.
'Till I feel you do,
I'll play this little game,
Of writing love poems,
And hiding my love.
As I write this,
I can only think of
The love that I feel
For you, my truest dear.
When you find out who I am,
All will come clear.
The hows and the whys,
And the reasons I care.
This unreturned love
Is almost more than I can bear.
Loving you, though,
Will restore my faith.
'Till I know you love me,
I'll hide as this wraith,
Who writes and who can
Ne'er be seen,
You alone can,
Return me to my being.
For you I would,
Any and everything do.
'Till I have your love,
I'll e'er be blue.
This feeling is real,
It just has to be.
'Till you are with me,
I'll ne'er be truly free.
By Jason Manzcur
Welcome back to the magical world of thaumaturgy, pardon the pun.
In the last installment, I discussed the science of divinatory magic.
I must apologize, as I am afraid I do not know very much about divinatory
magic. This week I will be discussing another science, enchantment.
Enchantment is a very diverse science. It incorporates all aspects of
making inanimate objects animate. It also involves the creation of "magical"
objects and artifacts and the storing of magical spells in items and people.
Enchantment is sometimes associated with the science of charm. This is not
the case. Charm is a completely different science.
The first aspect of enchantment I will discuss is that of "Lucky
coins" and other good luck charms. Now, why they are called good luck
"charms" is beyond me, as the science of charm magic only has effects
upon living things. To make a "good luck charm", first one has to find
out something about the person or thing the sorcerer intends to use the
"charm" for. Once this is accomplished, the sorcerer must enchant the
item with a simple luck spell.
Enchantment also has its uses in creating animate or intelligent
objects from inanimate objects. This is something about which I know
very little. Items enchanted to have intelligence usually have the
creator's intelligence. This can be either good or bad, as the item
usually "inherits" the creator's personality as well. In creating
animate objects from inanimate objects, the object is usually under the
complete control of the creator. Again, this is a double-edged sword.
Most of the time, objects that are created to be animate are also
endowed with some intelligence. This intelligence is instilled by the
creator to enable him or her to use many objects without having to worry
about keeping control of them all. Enchanted items that are created
to be animate without intelligence are usually minor items, generally used
for menial tasks like cleaning the house and such.
Everyone has heard of "crystal balls", but few know how they work.
The premise is fairly simple, the creator simply casts a divination
spell on a crystal sphere after enchanting it. Most items of this sort
are first enchanted to hold a spell or spells, then the spell or spells
are cast upon the item, and finally, the creator enchants the item to
keep the spell or spells on the item permanent, or nearly so.
Enchantment sometimes involves the storing of spells in objects
or people. To do this, the sorcerer must have the object in sight,
and usually in hand, or have the person in sight. If an enchantment is
used on a person, the sorcerer must have the trust of that person. Once
the sorcerer has the trust of the individual, via explaination or
trickery, he or she can begin casting. To store spells in an individual,
the sorcerer begins by "readying" the individual. This is a long and drawn
out process in which the individual must remain in sight of the sorcerer.
After this has taken place, the sorcerer begins casting the spell or spells
on the enchantment, not the individual. The spell or spells are then stored
for later use.
This concludes my reports on thaumaturgy. Although I have not
covered nearly all of it, I must be moving on.
For more information on thaumaturgy, send E-mail to:
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o E-mail Address:
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Send comments, flames, etc. to ORG_ZINE@WSC.COLORADO.EDU.
Letters To The Editor
From time to time, we here at ICS will continue to present some of
the feedback you, the audience, generate in response to our 'zine:
Responding to the article by Ted Sanders, I have been in graduate education
for some 30 years and realize that to educate someone to a discipline is a
long process. It begins with learning a lot of terms and concepts which only
later get to be applied. I have noted that there is a great leap
intellectually from undergraduate to graduate education. The undergradaute
takes a lot of courses many of which are in the same department, but does not
try to pull things together. Data is just out there. Making the committment
to graduate studies comes as a committment to pull things together and deal
more holistically with a subject field. As normal citizens in a society, we
get a lot of bits and pieces, but rarely any opportunity to bring these
fragments together. On the undergraduate level, a senior honors thesis is an
example of trying to do an integrated piece of work that carries over many
class hours. Perhaps there should be more of this in education, but
unfortunately it can come only at the end of a series of educational
encounters. The person must be ready to undergo a mind shift from data
gathering to data analysis. Many times I have sat around a campfire in the
field talking with undergraduate and some graduate students about doing
research and realizing that they did not have the right mind set to know what
I was talking about. We call it mental maturation and the like. It is a
readiness to procede on a different level of integration. Since this is the
case, we need to teach students at the level where they are currently at, not
where we hope that they would be so a 101 level course is thus quite different
than a 300 or 400 level. We do need to operate in the fashion that a student
entering higher level courses has been able to make the leap from data
gathering to data analysis or at least be prepared to do it. That is what the
higher level courses are for, to make that leap forward. In other words, we
cannot give the student what they want, but what they will need.
Robert Ackerman, Professor
Department of Anthropology
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-4910
[The old problem with Universal education; the least common denominator
often rules. Personally, I refuse to believe individuals must reach a
given age or level of experience in order to perform data analysis or
"mature integration". By conceding defeat, we prevent evolution - Ed.]
From: Gravities Angel
THAT DARN UNIVERSITY . . .
WHEN WILL THEY TEACH ME
WHAT I *REALLY* NEED TO KNOW?
[Excerpted] .... On the surface, as I have noted, Mr. Sanders "First Word"
essay suffers from a number of definitional problems that render his arguments
unclear at best. On a deeper level, I believe that Mr. Sanders mistakenly
correlates the acquisition of knowledge with the application of education.
These two endeavors are not the same activity at all, although I believe that
most universities in this country make an effort to teach both. Whether the
hypothetical Chemistry student mentioned by Mr. Sanders actually needs to know
how to save his/her money in order to buy Adidas or to pay the rent is not,
or should not be, the concern of a Chemistry teacher. His/her only concern
should be to impart the basic assumptions and knowledge associated with
Chemistry to his/her students and not information on how to balance a check
book or save money. The student who feels a need to pay the university to teach
him/her these skills could undoubtedly arrange a zero credit independent study
in the appropriate department if they feel that that is what they have come
to their particular university to learn. My guess is that mom and dad told them
how to save their money for shoes or rent long before they got to college, only
they may not have chosen to listen to them. I will leave this discussion with
an excellent quote by Neil Postman from a number of years ago which seems to
play upon the issues raised by Mr. Sanders. Postman, Like Sanders, is concerned
about the state of education in this country, however, he, unlike Sanders, does
not believe that the solution is passive acceptance or mediocrity:
Passive acceptance is a more desirable response to ideas
than active criticism.
Discovering knowledge is beyond the power of students and is, in
any case, none of their business.
Recall is the highest form of intellectual achievement,
and the collection of unrelated "facts" is the goal of
The voice of authority is to be trusted and valued more than
One's own ideas and those of one's classmates are
Feelings are irrelevant in education.
There is always a single, unambiguous Right Answer to a
English is not History and History is not Science and Science is not
Art and Art is not Music, and Art and Music are minor
subjects and English, History and Science major subjects,
and a subject is something you "take" and, when you have
taken it, you have "had" it, and if you have "had" it, you
are immune and need not take it again.
(The Vaccination Theory of Education?),
in Neil Postman, Teaching As a Subversive Activity.
If more time were spent by students trying to learn what they *don't know*
instead of trying to *avoid* what they think they don't need to know, more
progress might be made by both students and educational institutions. While I'm
not naive enough to believe that educational institutions have what's best for
the students at heart, I do believe that the purpose of education is *not* to
teach students what they already know. If a student is bright enough to
convince his/her Chemistry teacher to teach him/her how to save money for
shoes, s/he is also bright enough to ask the person to teach them who is best
suited. The Chemistry teacher should in turn be bright enough to tell them to
"shut up and learn Chemistry, and to go home after class and ask mom and dad
how to save money."
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION
BITNET ID: FFMLK@ALASKA (VIA INDIANA)
[This is a fragment of an excellent critical analysis; we'll pass it
along to Ted, if we ever find him - Ed.]
From: Howard Kaplan
Re Ted Sanders' "The First Word". I remember a lecture given by a man whose
fly was open (wide). No one attending that lecture remembers a word the poor
man said, but Everyone remembers the open fly. While it might not be an exact
parallel, the use of the word "exemplerary" in Sanders' article , especially
as it's the lead article and one designed to be thought provoking, tends to
cloud over the content.
[The Human Spellchecker has been installed - Ed.]
> "The telephone, I believe, is the greatest boon to bores ever
> invented. It has set their ancient art upon a new level of
> efficiency and enabled them to penetrate the last strongholds
> of privacy."
> - H.L. Mencken
This guy said a lot of real cool stuff. Any suggested readings
by him, or did he just toss off a lot of quotes?
[H.L. is what I consider an American literary treasure - the source of my
inspiration and the standard bearer for intellectual thought in my
universe - some highly recommended titles:
* A Mencken Chrestomathy. New York: Knopf, 1949.
* The Vintage Mencken. New York: Vintage Books, 1955.
* The Days of Mencken: Happy Days, Newspaper Days, Heathen Days.
New York: Knopf, 1949.
* For the scholar, see the "Treatise on Right and Wrong" and the
"Treatise on the Gods" - the first deals with the history of morality
while the second examines the evolution of religion.
* In Colorado, all of these titles are available through an
Inter-Library Loan program. Ask your local librarian if a similar
program exists in your neck of the woods.]
[From ICS 7-2]
> ()()The Almost Middle Word()()
> ()()()()By Jeremy Bek)()()()()
> This is a zine designed to be enjoyable to anyone in any land.
>So I am going to present a question that affects every nation, Poverty.
>Why do we let it happen? With the worlds total wealth we could give
>everyone on the planet an annual wealth of 24,000 american dollars per
>year. Is greed really that prevalent? What can we do? If any one has
>this kind of information I would really like to receive it. Thanx
$24,000 ain't what it used to be... You don't mention taxes. Governments
find ways to use about 25% - 50% of all goods and services produced.
Gotta run the Internet, etc,etc. So, I guess we are left with maybe
$12,000. In most cities, you can't even afford to be poor with that kind
of money. I guess if I had my 40 acres and a mule I might be able to
make it on 12K. But, there is another *big* problem. If you just hand
out the cash, most all people will have no incentive to produce. Nobody
to solder all those tiny parts on PC boards, nobody to grow strawberries
or good dope. Nobody to sweat blood through medical school to fix your
broken arm. Since if all money is given away equally, it is no longer useful
as a medium of exchange for goods and services. It therefore is useful only
for toiler paper and such. If you abolish money and go back to pure
barter, you are essentially in the same situation except you no longer
have a convenient medium of exchange.
What you say reminds me that the average human height and weight are about
70 inches and 160 pounds. Should we give a few inches to all the short
(whoops, vertically challanged) people, and take a few pounds from the
gravitationally impaired? (fat) Such is contrary to The Way Of Things,
and that which is against the Tao cannot long endure (So they keep telling
Another point is that some of us expect more of some things and less of
others. We have different needs and abilities. So the way we interact
with our surroundings naturally produce differing results.
... So much for the 'stock answer'. Now to address your question on it's
merits. Most of us know people very busy acquiring more money than they
will ever need, and miss out on life. They do not know the joy of giving,
and so we call them greedy and foolish. An article this year in Scientific
American shows that most recent famines have been the result not of lack
of supply, but of fear of shortage, which drives up the price through
speculation. Even in very poor areas, education, particularly of females,
has the effect of improving life and reducing artificial shortages.
I suppose the 'bottom line' is to realize that life can be a
non zero sum game, meaning that instead of fighting over the same
sized pie, we can make a bigger pie and share it better.
But never forget, SOMEBODY has to grow the wheat, bake the pie, etc.
And those somebodies will expect to be PAID for their trouble.
My $.02, submitted for your approval. ;-)
[Thanks for the Reality check, Joe. There are, of course, no simplistic
answers to the greed Jeremy asks about. Thoughtful dialogue does,
however, present the opportunity to promote change - Ed.]
By Steven Peterson
As I sit here, more than a little burned out from the end-of-the-term
crush of Academic composition, I can palpably feel the residue of fear,
hope, and tensioned effort in this here "electronic sweat-shop". Our
eminent Faculty Advisor, George Sibley, continues to provide us with
that essential "outsider's" perspective. If anyone out there has
witnessed an atmosphere of consolidation in their computer labs, feel free
to write us and tell all about any "emerging consciousness" developing
among the toiling workers on your campus. Jason, our resident mystic,
offers us his last installment of his "Magic" series in this issue -
he'll be back next term to explore new terrain. As the Editor, I deeply
enjoyed assembling the "Letters" section - thanks to all for their
thoughtful responses. I look forward to future installments - keep the
E-mail coming. In our next issue, I will return with another of my
"New Prejudices" columns, while the rest of the staff will be back to
offer the products of their individual Spring Break Inspirations.
ICS would like to hear from you. We accept flames, comments,
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