Richard Moore

[part 1]

                     DEMOCRACY AND CYBERSPACE

                Copyright 1997 by Richard K. Moore
                         Wexford, Ireland

               Presented at International Conference
      "Discourse and Decision Making in the Information Age"
                      University of Teesside
                         18 September 1997

Digital cyberspace: a quick tour of the future
Let's stand back for a moment from today's Internet and from the
temporary lag in deployment of state-of-the-art digital technology.
>>From a longer perspective, certain aspects of the future cyberspace
are plain to see.

As regards transport infrastructure - the pipes - cyberspace is
simply the natural and inevitable integration/rationalization of the
disparate, patched-together, special purpose networks that make up
the nervous system of modern societies.  Besides the _public_
distribution systems such as terrestrial and satellite broadcast,
cable, and telephone (cellular and otherwise), this integration will
also extend to dedicated _private_ systems, such as handle point-of-
sale transactions, tickets and reservations, inter-bank transfers,
CCTV surveillance, stock transfers, etc.

The _cost savings_, _performance gains_, and _application
flexibility_ brought by such total integration are simply too
compelling for this integration scenario to be seriously doubted.
Just as surely as the telegraph replaced the carrier pigeon, and the
telephone replaced the telegraph, this integration is one bit of
progress that is bound to happen, one way or another, sooner or

Significant technical work is still required on the infrastructure,
to provide efficiently and reliably such mandatory features as
security, guaranteed bandwidth, accountability, authentication, and
the prevention of "mail-bombs" and other Internet anomalies.  But
these features don't require rocket science - they are more a matter
of selecting from proven technologies and agreeing on standards,
interconnect arrangements, and implementation schedules.

The global digital high-bandwidth network - the hardware of
cyberspace - will in fact be the ultimate distribution mechanism for
the mass-media industry: it will subsume broadcast (air and cable)
television, video-tape rentals, and perhaps even audio cd's.  These
familiar niceties will go the way of vinyl records and punched cards.

Cyberspace will be the universal connection of the individual to the
world at large: "transactions on the net" will be the the way to
access funds and accounts, make purchases and reservations, pay
taxes, view media products (films, news, sports, entertainment, etc),
initiate real-time calls, send and receive messages from individuals
and groups, query traffic-congestion patterns, etc. ad infinitum.

Each transaction will have an associated price - posted to your
account - with some portion going to the ultimate vendor (eg, content
provider) and some going to the various intermediaries - just as with
credit card purchases today.

[to be continued]


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