Public Journalism and Public Life: Why Telling the News Is Not Enough

By Davis "Buzz" Merritt | Go to book overview

TWELVE
Cyberspace: Finding Our Way

Somewhere down the Information Superhighway lives Harold, the Rutabaga Man. He's not a bad sort, just overly internalized. Harold cares only about rutabagas, and he cares intensely about them, everything having to do with them: their history, how to cultivate them, cook them, their genetic composition, and their role in various cultures. It is his singular concern and passion as he sits in his cubicle with its electronic tentacles reaching anywhere in the universe. Empowered by modems, bemuscled with gigabytes, his blood hot with the power of interconnectivity, he can know anything known to humanity.

The technology that provides Harold's unbridled intellectual reach, however, also provides his personal opiate, for Harold is in sole command of the information he sees, and he wants to know only about rutabagas. Because he wills it, nothing else can impinge on his consciousness; he controls the keyboard and modem. The problem is, Harold can vote. Wouldn't probably, but could.

Harold and his cyberspace friends will redefine community, and perhaps democracy. Each is in electronic touch with a handful of similarly obsessed brothers and sisters, but there is no whole. By realizing their dreams of self-interest, they have fulfilled public life's most horrific nightmare.

Yet even worse, suppose that Harold's world is not the Information Superhighway and its already cliched spaghetti mix of off-ramps, on-ramps, and rest stops. That widely accepted metaphor of the information future is disarmingly comforting, for it implies a universe in which routes are clearly marked, directions are two-dimensional, and destinations are obtainable if only we follow the map properly from Point A to Point B. It is a technocrat's vision of people zipping confidently along predetermined routes to predetermined places.

-131-

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Public Journalism and Public Life: Why Telling the News Is Not Enough
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition xi
  • Acknowledgments xiv
  • PART I 1
  • One Why Change? 3
  • Two Understanding A Peculiar Culture 17
  • PART II 33
  • Three Learning to Not See 35
  • Four Soaring Toward a Crash 44
  • Five The Limits of Toughness 60
  • Six Connect And Disconnections 68
  • Seven Making a Break 83
  • PART III 93
  • Eight The Value of Values 95
  • Nine The Value of Deliberation 103
  • Ten So Far, So Good . . . Mostly 112
  • Eleven Some Tools and Their Uses 121
  • Twelve Cyberspace: Finding Our Way 131
  • Thirteen So What's It All About? 139
  • Epilogue 146
  • References 148
  • Index 150
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