Abstract - The Information Society 12(1)

Who will we be in cyberspace?

Langdon Winner

As the 20th century draws to a close, it is evident that, for better or worse, the future of computing and the future of human relations - indeed, of being human itself - are now thoroughly intertwined. Foremost among the obligations this situation presents is the need to seek alternatives, social policies that might undo the dreary legacy of modernism: pervasive systems of one-way communication, preemption of democratic social choice corporate manipulation, and the presentation of sweeping changes in living conditions as something justified by a univocal, irresistible progress. True, the habits of technological somnambulism cultivated over many decades will not be easily overcome, but as waves of overhyped innovation confront increasingly obvious signs of social disorder, opportunities for lively conversation sometimes falls into one's lap. Choices about computer technology involve not only obvious questions about what to do, but also less obvious ones about who to be. By virtue of their vocation, computer professionals are well suited to initiate public debates on this matter, helping a democratic populace explore new identities and the horizon of a good society.

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