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Undoing Monopoly by E-Mail

          Let me offer a 2d modest proposal.  The first was a question:  Does
  computer technology now permit the combining of the E-mail addresses of our
  100 U.S. senators (and our 435 congressmen, and our 1,000 federal judges)
  into a 'mailing list' format such that any U.S. citizen (or anyone around
  the world) could send a 'post' to the full 'list' with a single 'send'
  command?  And, of course, are those E-mail addresses available?  The answer
  to both questions, as I understand it, is 'yes.'
          That answer tells us that every citizen now has a potent new tool
  for exercising his rights of citizenship in a democratic society--an
  EFFICIENT means of actually communicating his views to those who wield power
  in his name.  Half of us don't even bother to vote every 4th year.
  Certainly less than 1% of us write a letter to our senator or congressman in
  a given year.  Scribble out a message.  Address an envelope.  Pay for a
  stamp.  Take the letter to a post office.  Wait weeks for a reply. Puzzle
  over the form letter that comes back.  After all this trouble, just 1 of 535
  lawmakers have been reached, hardly the beginning of a change in public
  policy. Only those who're seeking help in getting an indigent brother-in-law
  on the federal payroll have a sufficient incentive to go through an exercise
  of this sort.    
          Now, though, we're presented with a wholly new technology.  The
  citizen who can write to 100 senators with the stroke of a computer key--and
  to 435 members of the House with another click--will be another kind of
  person.  He will have real power--and will know that he has it.  He'll have
  the means to spell out his policy concerns.  He can join discussion groups
  that share them.  He can work out the details, the political strategies, the
  tactics with those he trusts.  Then he can write to the powers that
  be--easily, quickly, en masse--and most importantly, at zero cost.  Write
  individually, write collectively.  Both can be powerful tools.  
          What would be an effective way for the members of this group to let
  the U.S. senate, for example, know what they think about the Microsoft
  monopoly?  I'd like to see both a 'group' letter and a lot of individual
  ones.  I view them as essentially complementary:  The former (drafted,
  perhaps, by group leaders) could outline in considerable detail the history
  of the problem with Microsoft and its economic and other effects on the
  public and on particular segments of the industry--while the individual
  authors expand on areas of special interest to them.  Both, in my view, can
  powerfully influence Congress.
          How would you go at writing your individual lettter?  Here's my
  suggestion.  Go back and PULL TOGETHER ALL OF YOUR POSTS ON MICROSOFT.  Line
  them up, from first to last, chronologically, in a single new-post format.
  Then edit.  Take out any duplications.  Divide into paragraphs of, say, 10
  lines on your screen.   Check spelling, grammar, etc.  Re-read from start to
  finish.  Add any points you think need more development. The finished
  product--a tightened-up version of all your posts to this group, plus your
  latest thoughts--will be a full and accurate reflection of your views on the
  Microsoft problem.  (You might also want to send a copy to Janet Reno.)  
          After all 270 of us have given the 535 members of Congress our
  individual experiences and thoughts on the Microsoft monopoly (and its costs
  to the country), will they know everything we know about it--and everything
  they need to know to cure it?  If not, it'll be our fault.  We have the
  means.  We just didn't do our jobs as citizens.
          Charles Mueller, Editor