Life After Television
Television has long been identified as a dead hand on culture; but as George Gilder so brilliantly reveals here, this centralized, authoritarian institution is also a dying technology whose grip on our imaginative and economic life threatens to impede American competitiveness in the next century. What will replace the television set in your living room? The telecomputer, a powerful interactive system connected by fiber-optic threads to other PCs around the world. It will change the way we do business, educate our children, and spend our leisure time. It will imperil all large, centralized organizations, including broadcasting and cable networks, phone companies, government bureaucracies, and multinational corporations. The important questions are: who will build these things, and who will control the future of such a system? America is presently at the forefront of telecomputer development, but government restrictions--such as those that limit the wide use of fiber-optic technology--may hinder American companies in the vanguard, as will the pursuit of less crucial but higher profile developments, such as high-definition television (HDTV), where Japan holds the technological advantage. Gilder's optimistic message is that the United States has only to unleash its industrial resources to command the "telefuture", in which new technology will overthrow the stultifying influence of mass media, renew the power of individuals, and promote democracy throughout the world.
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