Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
 Contemplating Roads Less Traveled, by Kevin Hunt

Life in the Fast Lane

The Road Ahead is littered with examples of the sorts of "everyday" concerns that Gates believes increasing access to computers and information will alleviate. For instance, he mentions how connecting to the information superhighway will allow you to find someone with which you can trade your Wednesday night theater tickets for their Thursday night tickets, check whether you shirts have been laundered, take a virtual look at the Champs-Elysees, or find the cheapest way to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. While the concerns that Gates discusses throughout the book range from the practical and crucial to the frivolous, most all of them are confined to a specific class of people who maintain a comfortable standard of living.

Gates uses an unusual number of examples involving the theater and international travel, again drawing on the sort of experiences gained from being a man of means. For example, in discussing the video conferencing and other communication system's information highway's potentially detrimental effect on the travel industry, Gates casually mentions that "Business travel may fall off, but leisure travel will rise because people will be able to take working vacations, knowing they can stay connected to their offices and homes through the information highway" (p. 179). Later on, in discussing the value that travel agents will have to add to their services due to increased access to information that everyone will have in the future, he writes:

"Say you want to visit Africa. You will be able to find the cheapest tickets to Kenya, so the travel agency will have to be able to provide something else. Perhaps the agency books nothing but trips to East Africa--hence, they'll be able to tell you what other customers especially liked, or that the Tsavo National Park is too crowded, or that if you're really interested in seeing herds of zebra, you are better off visiting Tanznia."
Through the use of examples such as these, Gates reveals the sort of class of people that he's thinking about when he expounds about the benefits of the coming information highway. We're left wondering about the --rest of us.

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