by way of <t byfield> on Sat, 8 Aug 1998 19:14:06 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> what if...

just inspired by yesterdays news [5 August], a little dark scenario:

what if...

that's a game i still like. what if the (overrated) dow jones
would fall due to a mass panic and massive use of uncontrollable
online trading systems, detached from the centralized autotrading
instances at wall street, fall and fall as if there would be no
end. free fall induced by out of control digital economy. the
deep fall after the long boom, the deregulated down of the curve
bionomics are unable to conceptualize. everyone wanting their
ecash back at once. sell!

so, many people will be poor suddenly, but the net won't die and
probably route around it. people will likely have more time also,
but they won't buy more books. it will be a time for the big
philantrophes to prove their generosity.

a billionaire may buy the library of congress, (exchange it with a
TV network as the dollar is not much worth for a while) digitize
the books and put it on the net. which , as all other digital
technology will have to be loserfriendly suddenly.

other billionaires won't sell any copies or licenses as everbody
is "economically disadvantaged" now and will copy or get it for
free. you can imagine that in such times prisons, police and
courts are unable to deal with such 'small illegal activity'.
even if they use automated judgement already today. while first
china declares Windows as national shareware, others care more
about how to get organized their daily dinner.

so, with the help of many volunteers (free food), the library is
digitized within a scaleable timeframe. suddenly all the books
ever published in english will be available for free. so what?
billions of people will have other problems they simply won't
care. while some find a new life in the nets. i'm sure it will be
a time were people develop new text processing tools, interfaces,
groupware and the like. were the net becomes a true environment
for new ideas and better tools.

today creative people develope tools like 'theBrain' applauded by
Esther Dyson, one calls the net the web and many are expecting
e-commerce to change their live. (meanwhile everyone uses e-mail
and listservers which weren't really updated for the last 20
years) the PC is an outdated model and TV, game-machine, juke box
and banking terminal becomes one, a mintel like 'free service'.
interfaces are not very much text based. education is in a crisis.
people tend to group around mass hysteria. the moon gets its own
domain name and outsourcing of capital enters a new round.
etc.etc. many people gamble a bit at the stock markets, there's
less state control and zero taxes of the global financial markets.
Soros makes a lot of money and warns the world of an upcoming
baisse etc. etc.

(btw. Soros could be a sponsor of a free cultural groupware, in
fact he has even an implementation environment. all the offices in
east europe. it will have a menu point for 'open dialogue' and a
helpfile on 'humanism' and will likely run under windows)
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