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With Heart and Mind

Saturday May 15, 1999

Trinity Western University


"The Metalibrary and Higher Education: A Conversation about the Implications of and Suitable Christian responses to New Internet-Based Technologies"


by R. Sutcliffe, TWU
rsutc@twu.ca

Abstract

The Internet reaches most citizens, but remains primarily a tool for enhancing Industrial Age techniques. As with all technologies that reach a critical mass, it is metamorphosing into a catalyst of large-scale social and educational change, becoming (and making us) far different than the originators and pioneer users envisioned.

We will explore in a Christian context

- the nature of the new Metalibrary and its users

- its potential for altering society and institutions in the Information Age

- the future of higher education in general and the university in particular in a closely connected world.


About the Author


Rick Sutcliffe is Professor of Mathematics and Computing Science at Trinity Western University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1983, following twelve years as a high school teacher in Langley. He is currently also the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences. His research interests are in Computing Languages, Software Engineering, and ethical and social issues in technology.


Outline


1. Technology and Change

2. The First Three Civilizations

3. The Fourth Civilization

4. The Role of the Internet

5. Disintermediation and Commerce

6. The Metalibrary

7. The Metalibrary and Academe

8. The New Government

9. The New Education

10. A Christian Response

11. Specific Questions to Consider:

12. Conclusions


Questions

1. What do we have to say to a spiritually fragmented world?

2. Are we providing leadership in the transition to an electronic medium?

3. Have we set up web pages?

4. Can we effectively model the New Renaissance person?

5. Have we begun the process of redeeming the new media for our disciplines?

6. How will we use information age tools and techniques to advance the kingdom of God?

7. Have we learned to filter information for value?

8. How aware are we of other issues in communications, robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering?

9. How easily are we carried away by Internet hoaxes?

10. To what extent is our reliance on electronic gadgetry mere technicism and materialism itself?

11. Have we a voice in the ethical debates over the use of technology?

12. Can we speak to the human spirit?


Technology and Change

A new technology is often conceived as a means of automating or simplifying some routine task. In many cases, however, the technology takes on a life of its own, with initial uses rapidly transforming into ones the originators never imagined, and in so doing, eventually altering the very social context that birthed it.

Perhaps the most often cited example is the invention of the printing press. Originally a means of copying texts (particularly the Bible) quickly and more accurately, it became the first vehicle for mass distribution of information. The printing press not only enhanced the spread of the Gospel, but had the corollary of making it difficult to keep the population ignorant, and creating the possibility of upward mobility through education. Ultimately it destroyed the class structure based on birth, replacing it with one based on image, learning and money (beauty, brains and bucks).


The First Three Civilizations

The plow brought about the agricultural revolution, and with that came towns, trade, and the means to support kings, armies, scholars, and other non-productive people. Likewise, the steam engine ushered in the industrial age, huge population shifts, big cities, consumerism, big government, and general literacy. Thus, in the few thousand years since humankind was created, society changed from being dependent on and characterized by hunting and gathering (the first civilization) to agriculture (the second) to mechanized industry (the third).

More recently, the automobile began as a luxury toy for the rich, replacing the carriage for occasional trips to places of business or worship. It introduced assembly lines; its industry became the single most important employer and the modern economic engine; and cars mobilized society as never before. An individual's job market expanded to a wide radius, and ultimately included the entire continent as unrestricted mobility became a key factor in shaping North American society. In the process, the automobile displaced the steam-driven automatic loom as the totem of the industrial age. One could make comparable comments about the way television, radio, the telephone, and other ubiquitous icons of modern life have re-shaped both themselves and the milieu in which they began.


The Fourth Civilization

In our day, the computer has provoked similar but more profound transformations. Conceived as a device for automating ordinance computations for the navy, and thought in the 1940s to have a potential worldwide market of perhaps four or five units, the electronic computer and related devices have become harbingers of the fourth civilization--the information age.

In the economy of the fourth civilization, the fundamental commodities are service and information. Ten years from now, most current students will work sitting before a computer screen. They will receive information inputs, dictate added value to them, and pass the modified materials on to others--all without leaving their desks, making paper copy, or in many cases travelling to an office. While the basic agricultural and industrial structure will still exist, and still provide food and consumer goods in ever-increasing numbers, such activities will be automated to the point of invisibility. It will be as rare to know or even meet someone who works on the factory floor or the farm fields as it is today to make the acquaintance of a professional full-time hunter. The engine that drives the economy, shapes society, defines the chief arenas for work, will be the collective software and hardware tools used to develop and transmit ideas and information. For the most part, human beings have transferred physical labour to the automatons, creating a society more dependent on mental work, and the very degree of connectivity we have with one another is largely responsible for this. The new communications medium, while perhaps not the message, is certainly the basis for today's society.


The Role of the Internet

The Internet began as a tool for exchanging messages among industrial and academic colleagues. As recently as the early 1980s, its scattered computers linked only universities and a few companies who were their research partners. At that stage it probably had fewer than a thousand computers and only ten to fifty times that many terminals.

Today, the Internet in its various forms reaches into nearly all offices, and most homes, via telephone, satellite, and cable. It bids to incorporate all older electronic forms of communication, replacing mail, telephone, television, and to a great extent the print media as well. It already allows access to information on a scale never before imagined. Citizens can discover what their governments are doing; companies can advertise to a worldwide audience (whether they are mega-corporations or individuals working out of a room in their basement); academics can collaborate on papers with colleagues all over the globe with instant turnover of research results; and everyone can deal in consumer goods, real estate, stocks, insurance, or airplane tickets, do research, and take courses electronically without involving the traditional middlepeople.


Disintermediation and Commerce

Consider this last point a moment, and use it as a starting point for new ways of thinking that go beyond mere resurfacing of old, well-trod paths with a bit of academic asphalt. We'll begin with commerce.

When the seller of goods, a village craftsman dealing with friends and neighbours on a one-to-one basis, became a multinational company with hundreds of products and millions of end users, it was impossible to deal with each customer individually. Thus, the late industrial civilization created complex patterns for the distribution of goods and services. A manufacturer sold to a limited number of regional distributors, who in turn re-sold in smaller bulk lots to local distributors, who moved product to retailers in case lots, who then sold to the end user in one-of quantities.

The advantage of the distribution pyramid is its simplicity at each stage. No one level creates an unmanageable number of customer records. The disadvantage is that the price may increase by three or four hundred percent by the time an item reaches an end user--this without value added to the product along the way.

Already, many home-based businesses are built on short-circuiting this process. They offer soap, jewellery, clothing, cookware, and other goods directly from the manufacturer to the consumer through in-home sales representatives. However, these schemes can be much improved, for most still have distribution chains, and only the physical overhead is reduced.

Information technologies such as automated ordering/billing and computer assisted manufacturing (CAM) enable a more efficient system. Customers could view sample goods on-line or in a local showroom licensed by a manufacturer and/or order items to personal specifications from a catalogue. The goods would then be made to order on demand by automated assembly lines receiving computerized instructions for each item, and then shipped directly from the factory to the customer.

Electronic ordering and funds transfer enable manufacturers to deal directly with millions of customers. No paperwork need be handled, for none is created, and building to order cuts out distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and inventory, while reducing costs and increasing profits. This method might be best applied to goods requiring customizing--clothing, automobiles, and computer hardware. There is less to gain in the production of general hardware, household items and tools, for they can be mass produced. However, all makers of consumer goods would benefit from shortening the distribution chain.

There is nothing new in these ideas; indeed, they are obvious extrapolations of older methods of doing business. Direct distribution coupled with automated ordering, manufacturing, and paperless payment is a natural outgrowth of information age technology applied back to the problems of the industrial age. However, such developments do contribute to making the industrial infrastructure as abstract and invisible as is the agricultural one today.

If this is not so far revolutionary, how will information age techniques create new distribution models? How will data, information, ideas, and the (software) tools needed to create, manipulate, and access them be distributed and accounted for? After all, the number of contributors to a particular database or manipulation tool may be legion. In an age of reusable software components, the intellectual creations of scores or hundreds of people may be involved in a single information transaction. The industrial age method was that such techniques were licensed or purchased outright by a manufacturer, and the cost spread out over the number of items. If the new product was a success, not only did no further payment go to the creator of the enabling techniques, but the law allowed the new owner of the technique to restrict its use in other products. This may be an acceptable stopgap for hard goods in a society that is limited in its ability even to record the sales of goods, much less the use of methods, but it is already feasible to propose much better.


The Metalibrary

Define a civilization's "metalibrary" to be the set of all its knowledge, (information and technique) together with the means of storing and accessing it. "The Metalibrary" is the pending universal information store, including data, journals, magazines, newspapers, books, TV programs, movies, artwork--in short, everything humankind knows, makes, writes, or is still collecting on all possible media. The Metalibrary already exists, and is growing and developing to become something much more comprehensive.

Assume that anything could be posted or read (for a fee). Assume that all will be hyper-indexed in space and time, so that any kind of multi-media thread can be followed through the Metalibrary. Indexing threads could be attached by individuals or by editors, and a user would be free to accept for view-use any thread collections, or only those of certain editors. Journals would just be collections of threads by the responsible editor. Every home and business would have MTs (Metalibrary Terminals) of various kinds. Some would do data searches, some show publications such as National Geographic in full colour; large ones might display artwork or symphonies.

Each individual would have an indexing profile, started manually, but maintained by a process that monitors usage and preferences, then filters information accordingly. This is one's electronic world view, for it determines how one sees the available information. Meanwhile, every Metalibrary item (including world views) would have a registered UIC (Universal Information Code). This would be an index to the registry of contributors to that item, with their percentage share in the proceeds of its use. The registry would be hierarchical; one UIC might refer (with percentages) to other UICs through many levels to individual accounts.

Local devices would have smart hardware accessed by distribution code contained in every software product. This code keeps a record by UIC of use instances (not purchase) whether items are copied from the Metalibrary store directly, or obtained in some other way. Periodic reports would be sent to accounting central, which would employ the UIC registry to debit user accounts and credit creator accounts appropriately. The accounting code would also have to check periodically to ensure that its results had been sent and properly received, and refuse the application permission to run otherwise. This technique could be applied to the components of access or production software, as well as to the components of the data being viewed or manipulated, for all would have a UIC. It has the same access and payment advantages as the one above, and could be used in the same way, but information or tools would only have to be acquired once (saving much network bandwidth).

Software would record each use of itself and of the information it accesses (publications on any medium, the display of artwork, 3-D artistic performances, and searched data.) The software creators and data generators would get their royalties automatically in proportion to their contribution to the collection. If a user synthesized new tools or data from old, UIC codes for each component would be sent to accounting with appropriate percentages. (If the new tool were made a public product, some verification of the relative value of the parts to the whole would be necessary before actually registering a new UIC code.) For instance, if the user synthesized Walter Cronkite, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley as the evening news anchors, their estates would get a cut along with the reporters who produced the items, the team that edited that particular news thread for the day, and those who created the data files for the syntheses. A given transaction might yield a thousandth of a cent for someone, but those fractions would add up.

The making of a hard copy (where appropriate) would fetch another premium. Artwork (wallpaper?) displayed on flat screens on the condo walls would generate a time-based fee to the parent museum. Symphonic, athletic, and other performances would generate royalties according to a formula agreed to by the participants and registered for the event along with the UIC. A percentage of each transaction would finance the Metalibrary itself. The most daunting task would be the initial cross indexing and storage of all available knowledge and information, whatever its form. For new materials, this can be automated, for their primary medium of publication will be the electronic Metalibrary. We see this in the numerous journals, newsletters, magazines and books already being published there.

Metalibrary Terminals (MTs) would fill the role mail carrier, newspaper, magazines, telephone, TV, book reader, journal and news reader, library card, computer, and personal data assistant. Equipped at a some stage with more sophisticated interfaces, some might eventually be known as "pocket brains," though there would be no need to suppose them to be artificially intelligent. Portable ones could have the screen embedded in one's glasses, or contact lenses, or be grown by nanomachines directly in the eye itself.

The Metalibrary would also enable the creation of personal services partnerships or "metapersons"--like present day corporations, but of limited duration and changeable structure. These would be the primary vehicle for the assembly and sale of professional services such as education, training, counselling, accounting, writing, software production, and legal services. In no case would there be a distribution chain, for all consumers would directly access providers. Neither would a metaperson or independent information contractor need a physical office; virtual companies would have virtual buildings with virtual walls and furniture.


The Metalibrary and Academe

Apply the concept more specifically to what academics do. After three or four people have finished collaborating on a paper comparing and linking Milton and Shakespeare, Kosovars and Russian Jews, birds and turtles, nitrites and heart attacks, breast cancer and soil types, abstract groups and graphs, or Java and Modula-2, they would attach their UICs to the work, together with the percentages each contributed, and publish. The latter could be done on their own web site, which has the advantage of complete control over the product and its presentation, but the disadvantage that few might notice the material.

To gain that attention, a link would be sent to the editor of a prestigious journal who vets the material, has it refereed (electronically, of course) and decides whetherto include it in the next volume. A journal issue would be merely a collection of titles, comments, and links back to the authors work. However, as now, it would carry the prestige of peer review and recognition. Subscribers would use a link to obtain the journal by e-mail or web site visit, and decide for themselves whether to follow and read the current month's recommended links. The usual small reading fee would be debited and credited in appropriate amounts, both for the journal itself, and for the authors of those articles that were actually read.

This too does not sound very revolutionary--merely a transfer of the present journal system to an electronic form. The editor is merely a filter on the available information, approving the valuable, and rejecting the junk, much as is the case now. What does the ML give scholars that wasn't there before?

1. It is a trivial matter to set up and carry out an international collaboration without respect to physical location. The time to transmit a revision to colleagues is seconds rather than months, and in most disciplines the need to visit is eliminated.

2. Authors can reconsider, revise, or withdraw material in the light of new data, new interpretations, or the arguments of others. The detailed thought process for this could be attached via links to the original, or the old article could be removed or replaced, depending on the editor's policy.

3. An editor, upon mature consideration, might decide to rescind approval of an article. This could now be done by adding a note to the original with the reasons, rather than by including a note in a later issue.

4. Others who contribute to the chain of research could have links to the seminal paper and to each others' comments. That is, automatic tools could examine the bibliography of a new work referencing an old one, go to the originals, and add forward links to the new material, obviating the necessity for both citation indices and the long and expensive paper trail now needed to locate follow-on work.

5. Once all existing journals were scanned into the system, it would be easy to discover whether anyone had already done a proposed piece of research. This capability would eliminate the major cause of blind alleys and wasted time in doctoral dissertations and subsequent academic careers.

6. It would be much easier to cross-reference related work in other fields not normally covered by the citation indices in one's own field, opening up far more avenues for crossing the arbitrary, artificial, and none-too-useful boundaries erected between disciplines in the late industrial age. True interdisciplinary collaborations suddenly become much more feasible.

7. The problem of policing for fraudulent work remains, and it would be no harder or easier than it is now. Sloppy work, and non-repeatible results would just as quickly be discredited, and refutations would be directly attached to the original paper, which would no longer be capably of misleading those who come late to the discussion.

This new mode of working also enables a global community of scholarship, removing barriers of institution, discipline, and national location. Moreover, language barriers themselves will also fall as real time automatic translation software for written and spoken material becomes ubiquitous. Moreover, the ML permits anyone to participate in the creation and publication of original academic work, regardless of their "paper" qualifications, for such material would come to be judged on its contents more than on the academic degrees of the person writing. It is said that prolific algebraist Paul Erds once wrote a joint paper with the engineer of the London to Liverpool train. Such might be the norm; there is no reason in the new civilization to confine research activities to ivy-covered halls; anyone--garbage collector, domestic engineer or full-time scholar--with the time and inclination can publish and seek recognition on the ML, achieving a potential audience of billions. Even now, the principal of a multi-million dollar company may be a twelve-year-old, and the titan whose tracks can be found all over some intellectual landscape may be confined to a wheelchair and unable to move. There is already a proverb: "On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog."

It should also be readily apparent that although worldwide information availability and connectivity enables citizens greatly, and has already begun a New Renaissance of the arts, music, pure research, and all forms of writing--one in which everyone can participate--it also bodes profound and wrenching changes.

For instance, in a world of telecommuters, who needs cities? Where there are no distribution chains, who needs warehouses, retail stores, or goods handlers other than a few people in the delivery business? As in the Industrial Revolution, we could be in for massive population shifts, but away from the cities. There will at the very least be enormous job disruptions, and those who do work will have to do so in an atmosphere of steadily increasing stress, and very rapid change. They might also have to deal with rising crime and chaos resulting from mass unemployment.


The New Government

Disintermediation is the watchword for new forms of government as much as it is for commerce and scholarly publishing. Here, the effect of the chain of information being shortened is felt as citizens demand and get a greater voice in decision making via referenda. The representative intermediary who digests the material and votes on new proposals for us is no longer necessary. The downside of this--mob rule--can be ameliorated in several ways, perhaps the easiest being a requirement that a person pass a factual test before voting on an issue. Is this still democracy? Not as we have known it, but that too will change.


The New Education

More of interest to academics, the ML clearly has the potential to obviate the need for paper-based libraries, except as museums. It might also obsolete traditional universities, for two reasons. First, if scholarly information is available in electronic form, and the best lecturers video-tape themselves and make their lessons available from electronic virtual schools to download for a small fee, why would anyone go to a small, sleepy, obscure, physical college for a much more expensive education? Would the community of discussion, the give and take of in-person interaction still require physical proximity, or could this too be transferred to the ML? Second, it is by no means clear that a society which becomes accustomed to evaluating people by their work will place much value on degrees. What is a PhD but a portable paper credential that proclaims its holder to be an adequate certified researcher by some university's pre-defined filters or standards? In a global information community, students, journal editors, and peers can easily make their own assessments of a person's work. One's actual scholarly output becomes one's credential; the ML simply makes that fact both obvious and accessible. Perhaps an automated filter could determine who is currently entitled to be called "doctor", "master", or "apprentice" in a given field.

A basic premise of the information age is that its citizens will have to be highly educated, literate, articulate, and very technical, just to participate in society above minimal subsistence levels. They will not have to be repositories of many memorized facts or techniques; for those will be readily available. But they will have to be able to find, learn, and use a broad range of data and methods on short notice. For those unable or unwilling to obtain a comprehensive education (knowledge and skill based), develop a high level of communication skills, and be able to do thoughtful, insightful, problem solving, and continuous self re-education, the alternative will be occasional on-call shift work doing a minimum wage McJob, and a society stratified by class with a vengeance.

A caveat: It should be clear that some of the changes outlined here are only enabled by the new technologies; they are not inevitable. For instance, it is unlikely that all research collaberation could take place at a distance. Some aspects of research require personal interaction, and there will surely continue to be academic conferences such as the one at which this paper is being presented. Indeed, many people will, as a counterbalance to the impersonal aspects of the information age, have to seek out compensatory forms and modes of personal interaction. That said, it still ought to be clear that the broad society is in the midst of a sea change, and the ivory tower is not going to remain untouched.


A Christian Response

What do we as supposed Christian academics have to say to all this ferment? Will we run and hide, as we did from humanism, scientism, and technicism? Will we compromise our integrity and bow down to the new gods of the age as we did with materialism, progress, liberalism, and modernism, only to see their clay feet ultimately self-deconstruct into post-modern fragments? Will we, as did our predecessors in the Christian schools of bygone eras, fall so much in love with scholarship for its own sake, and grasp so much for respectability in this world that we lose our spiritual connectedness and become all but useless for God's kingdom? Will we in the process become increasingly marginalized and irrelevant to the academic community and society as a whole, until we are either forgotten in our ghettos or deemed to be scapegoats for society's ills and therefore expendable? (Keep in mind that the control belief of so-called "tolerance" is no longer the benign acceptance of differences it once was, but has become narcissistic, does not tolerate claims to moral rightness, and is extremely hostile to Christianity).

Or, will we ignore the human aspect involved in all the social, political, and educational change outlined above, use the new technologies as everyone else does, and so ignore our responsibility to use what God has provided (for He is the enabler of all technology) to advance His peace and so bring glory to Him?

On the other hand, will we each in our own disciplines and fields of interests aggressively work under the power of God to redeem the time, the discipline, the culture, and the society, so that when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ returns he will find us faithful, watching, and multiplying the trusts he has put into our hands and minds?


Specific Questions to Consider:

1. What do we have to say to a society uprooted from most of its jobs and values, a people that finds its gods and temples in fragmented ruins, its cherished ideologies deconstructed of all meaning, the materialism of its dying civilization achingly unsatisfying? What is our message to a people who find themselves spiritually bent, folded, mutilated and spindled by the false prophets of destructive and empty ideologies? As the post-industrial fragments are reassembled into new paradigms for a new civilization, what role will Christian intellectuals play in the process?

2. Are we at the forefront of and providing leadership in the transition from a paper medium to an electronic one? Do we publish in web based journals, edit a forum, write an electronic magazine, or moderate a newsgroup? Do we even know what they are in our disciplines? How much credibility have we?

3. Have we set up web pages to promote our ideas, work, department, or school? Students looking for a school today expect such things and are critical if they are missing.

4. Can we effectively use the tools our students have taken for granted since they were in preschool? If not, how can we credibly, and in good conscience offer ourselves as intellectual guides in the light of the new realities of the information age? Are we capable of modelling the New Renaissance person, widely educated and with the capacity not just to accept and embrace change, but to mold it to the glory of God?

5. Have we begun the process of redeeming the new media for our disciplines? How can we link up with other Christians for research, writing, intellectual stimulation, and practical applications? Does our Christianity infuse our course materials, teaching techniques, use of tools, and writing with the new life, or have merely imported a standard, pedestrian, secular education and its technology unaltered into an environment where the world's curriculum happens to be taught by Christians?

6. We know the ubiquitous tools of the new civilization will be used to advance the cause of Satan; we can see that happening. After all, the single most profitable category of goods available on the Internet today is pornography. How will we turn that situation around and use information age tools and techniques to serve the Lord of Heaven and His cause? There are sites providing spiritual resources and information. Have we contributed to making those resources grow to broad credibility? Do we use the new tools to talk solely to our fellow ghetto dwellers in a private code about secret spiritual matters and hope no one else is reading; or do we also speak God's peace to the world of our colleagues?

7. One of the most serious drawbacks of universal access to the means of publishing is the fact that everything is available, and not much is of value. While electronic journals are still being organized, to what extent have we learned to filter the information on the Internet ourselves to determine its value, accuracy, reliability, credibility, and usefulness? Do we discipline ourselves to avoid the Internet's red light districts? Have we taught our students the same skills?

8. How aware are we of other issues in communications, robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and a host of other high technology areas with the potential to reshape our society? Could we even vote intelligently and responsibly, much less credibly instruct in Christian world view, ethics, sociology, economics, and the like if we know little about the rapidly changing world around us?

9. How easily are we carried away by Internet hoaxes about viruses, (or how readily fail to heed warnings about real ones) and how much have we allowed our thinking to be warped by such things as Y2K hysteria? Do we know what is really going on? Do we care?

10. On the other side of the same coin, to what extent is our reliance on computers, cell phones, television, and other electronic gadgetry mere technicism and materialism itself? Have we dealt with the stress of the fast pace, the loss of privacy, and the pervasive greed of the day? Have the false gods collected us as their worshippers? Do we control and use the tools of the information age, or do they own us?

11. Have we a voice in the ethical debates over the use of technology in genetic and environmental engineering, the making of war, the relief of poverty and oppression, the increasing power of government, the conduct of business, the development of artificial intelligence, and the automation with robots of most manual labour? Or have Christian academics lost their way to the debating room because, well, we haven't all that much to say to a lost world anyway?

12. Do we know how to speak to the human spirit in a time when people are desperate for answers to the meaning questions?


Conclusions

It is easy to merely lament the sad truth that we live in a post-Christian world. However, it is also a post-modern world. We have seen the people of that world once again cut loose from past moorings. Our society is in the process of making numerous shifts in fundamental values and wholesale social changes. We've been there before, but these will transform the socialscape more radically and in far less time than did the Industrial Revolution.

We are living in the Fourth Civilization era. Rapid change is the new stability. Complex, sophisticated tools and techniques are commonplace. Once inaccessible data and information is universally available. We collaborate with and depend upon strangers around the globe. The social, political, and economic, axioms of the departed Industrial Age have been relegated to the trash heap of history, and its intellectual and spiritual landscape is a war-torn, meaningless, fragmented ruin. The New Renaissance, a technology-empowered prodigious outpouring of human creativity, is well under way. How do Christians fit in?

Where are the Christian academics who are credibly and authoritatively speaking the peace of the Lord to the world out of their disciplines? How are our students being equipped to lead this world out of its spiritual and intellectual wilderness and into the light of God? Where are the Luthers and the Calvins who will speak to our age with such conviction that, the Lord empowering, we may see a great spiritual awakening and a new reformation?

The gods of the industrial age, including materialism, scientism, humanism, and progress (later called evolution), have not satisfied the human soul. Neither will high technology, human philosophies, political ideologies, or the shamanism of concocted religious systems. All are ephemeral products of the material world; all are passing away. They have the built-in obsolescence common to everything in the physical universe. None answer the longing of the human spirit for something better, lasting, more permanently satisfying. Such answers require the redeeming power of Christ--a message He chooses to communicate to the world through his people.

Humankind has placed its entire confidence and wagered its whole future upon its own knowledge and techniques. In the process, it has lost its spiritual way and its very meaning more thoroughly than ever. Far from despairing or retreating in the face of this, we need to realize that a great opportunity has emerged to employ that same knowledge and those same techniques to speak redemption to our disciplines, and reach people for Christ in ways never before dreamed. The challenge is to effectively prepare ourselves and our students to seize that opportunity.


Bibliography

Sutcliffe, R. Electronic Property in the New Renaissance, CompuTek Sept. 1984, p.18-23

Introducing Computer Science in the New Renaissance (Part 1), CompuTek Nov 1984, p.18-21; (Part 2), CompuTek Dec 1984, p.18-22

A Distribution Paradigm for the Fourth Civilization, in the electronic journal TidBITS #184

A Distribution Paradigm for the Fourth Civilization: The Metalibrary as Economic Infrastructure: Proceedings of Multimedia Communications `93"Exploring Multimedia Solutions in Education and Business" UBC Nov 23-24, 1993

The Fourth Civilization-- Technology, Ethics and Society commissioned but not published by Charles E. Merrill Publishing (available as course pak from TWU bookstore) Bradner, Arjay Enterprises 1988, 1998

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