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Society and Computing (was new book on same)

  	In his message earlier today,  Subject:  new book on 
  	society and computing,  Louis Proyect <lnp3@columbia.edu>
  	offered us a URL to comments from the book. At their end,
  	they said, as follows:
  	     "Unfortunately, this volume can only hint at the possibility 
  	of a world free of want, where the promise of science is fulfilled, 
  	and where knowledge is unleashed as a social force. We believe 
  	that such a future is visible on the horizon of history. For this 
  	vision to seize hold, it must be taken up, struggled over, 
  	articulated, popularized, and made into a material force.
  	     "The questions we are posing here we think are the proper 
  	questions. They will take us forward, not just towards under- 
  	standing the world that we live in, but towards changing it. 
  	For too long, the debate about social change has been bound 
  	up with old concepts of a world fast disappearing. A sharp
  	edge of new ideas is needed to cut through the accumulation 
  	of exhausted ideas. These essays are a contribution to that 
   	     Jim Davis 
  	     Tom Hirschl
  	     Michael Stack "
  	Louis Proyect, subscriber here, and Davis, Hirschl and Stack,
  	(who have done the book but may not be on this List), see the
  	connection between Microsoft, IT, and the question -- not unlike
  	monopoly and domination by an ambitious oligopoly in IT and
  	media, -- namely, "of a world free of want, where the promise of 
  	science is fulfilled, and where knowledge is unleashed as a 
  	social force."
  	John Behrman, our prolific thinker from Texas, has likewise
  	raised general economic and political issues rooted in history
  	and possibly ready for current appreciation by people in
  	the IT community who have an economic and political interest 
  	in solutions to age old problems. Ones like making a living and
  	reducing corruption, pollution and poverty that persist against
  	the desire of all of us.
  	Because it is so hard to unite voters around complex economic
  	issues, there has always been a strain of belief that economic
  	concentration of the kind that produced William Gates, and
  	skilled operations of the kind that produced Warren Buffet,
  	might result in a benefactor from the aristocracy of the rich
  	who would take up the cause of reform -- like Perot and
  	Forbes may be credited with trying (even if wrong-headed
  	in some respects by my personal standards).  Such benefactor 	might help
  to finance a better political party than the one's now 
  	financed by so many discordant interests.
  	This is not to defend Gates as a future benefactor. It is only
  	a thought experiment where by we might spend some time
  	here to outline what it is such a "good" Gates ought to do, if
  	he survives another decade with plenty of money.
  	I do not think it enough to bring down Microsoft to make
  	room for a thousand competitors.  They might be no better
  	off  than the thousands of writers, artists and coders who 
  	compete in the open WEB page creators market. The
  	emergence of Microsoft from so small a beginning to where
  	it now is, albeit some of its tactics -- say most of them --
  	were illegal in my eyes, did happen, and it does represent
  	opportunity that sweat shop competition cannot duplicate.
  	Microsoft is in a position, like IBM is also, -- and their
  	record of illegality is worse than Microsoft's --, to make
  	a mighty effort to bring on rational digital money that
  	would underwrite a Keynesian attack on flaws in our
  	national financial, employment, and production systems.
  	I would like some of us to leave in the record of these
  	proceedings not just criticism of everything past, and
  	not just an unsympathetic view of Microsoft, but a
  	charge to that firm to justify its existence in terms of
  	reforms, based on information science, in our systems
  	of money, education, production, distribution, elections,
  	          Not a library of reform -- we have no room for
  	it. But a hint of what Bill Gates and his team, and we
  	and our teams, ought to be thinking about when time
  	comes around to bail out Asia (we must), develop
  	our own undeveloped regions and central cities (we
  	must), coach Russia, India and Europe (we must),
  	all at a world class level of thought and strategy,
  	no less than is now applied in the software wars to
  	stay alive.  Most of the needed solutions will help
  	software professionals first; and all of it will be 
  	necessary to make winning any of its wars lasting
  	and rewarding to anyone.
          John Gelles                   email  address: myturn@vcol.net
          http://www.myturn.org   ;    http://www.rain.org/~jjgelles/
          URL's above seek enactment of an economic bill of rights.