School: Deepening coupling of high-tech capital needs and public education at all levels, differentiated by race, class, and gender; managerial classes involved in educational reform and refunding at the cost of remaining progressive educational and democratic structures for children and teachers; education for mass ignorance and repression in technocratic and militarized culture; growing anti-science mystery cults in dissenting and radical political movements; continued relative scientific illiteracy among white women and people of colour; growing industrial direction of education (especially higher education) by science-based multinationals (particularly in electronics- and biotechnology-dependent companies); highly educated, numerous elites in a progressively bimodal society.
Lo, which avantage it is to multiplie!
That slidynge science hath me maad so bare
That I have no good, wher that evere I fare;
And yet I am endetted so therby
Of gold that I have borwed, trewely,
That whil I lyve I shal it quite nevere.
Lat every man be war by me for evere!
What maner man that casteth hym thereto,
If he continue, I hold his thrift ydo.
For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne,
But empty his purs and make his wittes thynne.
Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Canon's Yeoman's Tale," (VIII, 731-741).
Popular discourse concerning the impact of information technology has until quite recently been unproblematically utopian in its speculations. Scientists, commercial developers, the media and even the US government have extolled the social benefits to follow the increasing power and availability of new computer technologies. This is the rhetoric of what is now routinely invoked as the Information Superhighway, the Infobahn, or, in its governmental incarnation, the National Information Infrastructure: a technological yellow brick road to a world of interactive video conferencing and driver's licenses renewed at ATM machines.
Recently the inevitable backlash has set in. Books like Clifford Stoll's Silicon Snake Oil have sharply questioned many of the claims being made for these technological innovations. As Ann Kaplan makes clear in her characterization of the difference between the utopian and dystopian positions what is at stake in this debate is the degree to which information technology will enhance or erode individual freedom: "The technological determinists, those who argue that the tool's properties and functions ultimately configure the environment, tend to envision a bright, democratic, participatory world. The social determinists, those who argue that entrenched political and economic practices inexorably shape the tool to their ends, tend to forecast a deepening rift between those who control tools and those who are merely their users or their victims" (34).xv