33 Gould St.
West Roxbury, MA 02132 USA
Innovative or improved ways of doing things ; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Creation of new ideas, products, or services ; Technology transfer
I work for Digital Equipment Corp., as a senior communications consultant in Corporate Employee Communications. But this article was not written for work and does not relate to my experience in work.
The attached article is 3450 words — far longer than your maximum. But I believe it will help you accomplish your stated goals.
The attached article shows my individual perspective on the value of the Internet. It does not involve any organization or project.
This was translated into Russian and published in the Oct. issue of ReNews, an electronic computer magazine put out by RELCOM in Moscow. I’m still trying to get it published in the U.S.
I hope this helps you further your goals.
Please let me know if and how you intend to use it.
PS — Note the paragraph I have appended to your “Copyright License and Warranty.”
SCANNING FOR GOLD — EXPERIENCES IN THE GLOBAL ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT
By Richard Seltzer
Today, many people at universities and high tech companies work and play in a vast interconnected electronic environment. As a writer, I am fascinated not by the whiz-bang technology that makes this possible, but rather by what people do with it and the kinds of relationships people build with one another as a result.
Soon these resources should become available to the general public. The vast, government-subsidized network — Internet — is going to be privatized and eventually opened to individual consumers. Already, some people are investing in expensive alternatives that provide some of the same kinds of services. Perhaps a few anecdotes, based on my experience on the Internet, can help show how these new capabilities can be useful and fun, and what this change in human relations might lead to.
Creative Writing Groups and Peer Review of Articles
A Notes File at Digital (PROSE) and a newsgroup on the Internet (alt.prose) are both devoted to creative writing — serving as the electronic equivalent of self-help writers’ groups. Participants post their own stories and comment on those of others. They freely and openly give their time and effort to help one another improve their writing and find markets. Because this isn’t a face-to-face encounter, and because most of the participants do not know one another personally, the criticism tends to be painfully honest, which is what most writers need and crave. The words are judged on their own merit.
Sometimes participants who live close to one another arrange for face- to-face social get-togethers. Then when they move back to the electronic realm, their messages take on a more personal tone. But when it comes to critical judgement, the network still seems to foster impartial candor.
Many of the joys of the Internet come from the fact that everything doesn’t have to be structured and organized. You don’t have to ask and wait for permission from some authority. In many cases, you can simply exercise your imagination and initiative, within the the bounds of good sense and good taste.
When my son Bobby wrote a high school history paper on “The Role of Bobby Fischer as a Cold War Symbol,” I thought that maybe some of the people who read rec.games.chess might be interested in reading it. So I posted a brief note there asking if anyone would like me to send a copy electronically. (He had written it using our word processor at home, so it was a simple matter to transfer it up to the network and send it.) About 70 people from all over the world asked for it. A couple dozen replied directly once they had read it. Most were complimentary and grateful. Some pointed out minor inaccuracies: a typo in a date and a footnote number omitted from the text. One person took issue with a peripheral statement in the footnotes and started a discussion on that in the newsgroup. Bobby fixed the mistakes, acknowledged them in the newsgroup, and offered to send the revised copy to any who asked.
In other words, in the electronic environment, it is possible for an article or paper which deals cogently with a topic of general interest, to undergo informal peer review on the network, to be forwarded and copied many times all over the world, and to be shared freely by all who are interested.
But the real source of my enthusiasm is far more impractical. I like to look up at the shelf above my personal computer and know that in those floppy disks I have Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Aesop’s Fables, The Heart of Darkness, The Federalist Papers, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. Somehow, irrationally, I sleep better at night knowing that electronic copies of works like these are scattered throughout the world, and that they can be sent in seconds to thousands of new destinations. It gives me a sense of comfort to think that as long as there are free and open international computer networks, book burning is a futile exercise.
Richard Seltzer is an employee communications consultant for Digital Equipment. Before that, he was editor of such technical trade magazines as Electronics Test. A graduate of Yale (’69), he has an MA in comparative literature (Russian, French, and German) from the U. of Mass. His historical novel, The Name of Hero (set in Russia, Ethiopia, and Manchuria in 1900) was published by Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin. He successfully self-published a satirical fable The Lizard of Oz and a collection of children’s stories Now and Then and Other Tales from Ome. He recently finished a screenplay, Spit and Polish, which deals with reservists during the Viet Nam War, and a contemporary novel, Sandcastles. He lives in Boston with his wife and four extraordinary children.