Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
 Do We Need Mass in the Medium?, by Chris Lapham

A Time Out from the Race

Dare I suggest a brief time out? Maybe we should shift our vision--just for a moment now--to those who aren't leading the pack (in fact, they're not even in the race!) Let's think about all those folks who may use a computer at work, who have read the hype about the Internet in the newspaper and magazines, and who have never, ever even touched a computer keyboard.

That's quite a few people. Actually, it's a pretty big majority--the mass that's missing from the medium. Advocates of the new wired world promise a global village and virtual communities but that's not going to happen until more people get access to computers and the networks that link us all together. And the most obvious place to begin to create those networks and build those communities is in our libraries and schools.

The quick and easy answer to the access issue may appear to be money, at first. Certainly money is needed to properly wire school building and libraries that are often old and in need of many physical repairs. And technology may fall low on the list of more pressing needs for funds. But I believe a larger obstacle is public perception about the purpose and benefits of online communication. Instead of greenbacks, I think warm bodies are needed to help --break down the barriers that divide the online world from the rest of humanity.


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