Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
  Information Technology Systems as Publics, by John Monberg

Renegotiation of the Boundary Between Public and Economic Concerns

As banking moves into the home and individuals become bank employees, existing tellers are redundant. Over the next five years, half of all bank branches will close, and this is a trend that will intensify as advanced technologies are adopted. These changes will not only affect total economic GNP, but they also affect social structure, as certain jobs--the teller jobs that are often located in urban areas--that do not require college education and pay a living wage, are lost, and other jobs are gained.

Bank buildings themselves have also been impressive structures, with their massive Greek temple style denoting power and authority, while displaying attractive architecture and magnificent craftsmanship--symbols of stability, permanence, a promise for the future, as well as the source of capital to make that future material.

As a public site of routine social interactions, bank redlining policies were changed when Saul Alinsky mobilized community protesters. Protesters moved from teller to to teller requesting exchange of cash to coin, coin to cash, etc. It is difficult to see how this strategy would work with ATMs or home banking screens. Technology has "public" consequences that are ignored when impacts are framed narrowly as economic questions. --

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