On Wednesday 8 October 1997, many British newspapers chose to combine two technology-related news stories into one article. As an example, the front page of the Daily Telegraph read:
The Princess Royal gave warning yesterday of the dangers of children becoming enslaved by computers.
Her warning came as the Prime Minister announced a £100 million scheme to link schools to the information superhighway and computerise the curriculum….
The Princess was talking at a meeting of independent school headteachers in Brighton as Tony Blair shook hands at No. 10 Downing Street with Bill Gates, the chairman of the Microsoft Corporation.
Mr Gates is advising Mr Blair on the Government’s plan to link 32,000 schools to the Internet and the National Grid for Learning by 2002.
The Princess said people were already becoming more isolated by the way they lived and worked. Information technology would make them even more so, ‘only interacting with others, at a distance, down the wires’….
Mr Gates said he was ‘delighted to have Microsoft involved in helping to shape some of the fundamental strategic thinking behind making technology an integral part of every aspect of British’.
This news story simultaneously embraces both the promises and the fears evoked by information technology. It examines the fears associated with the apparently relentless integration of information technology into our everyday lives, namely ‘technophobia’.