Mind On-Line

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    Free Speech / Right Speech Paid Member

    As a strange new medium, the Internet's true nature is difficult to grasp. Is there anything special or uniquely valuable about it or is it simply being over-hyped. Could the Net even be dangerous—to children, for instance, by exposing them to unsuitable material? We see and hear endless media reports, some favorable, some not, on this subject. Millions are exploring the Net for themselves with enthusiasm, while others wait behind on the on-ramp, often with fear and loathing. The Internet has entered into our cultural consciousness as an object onto which we project our hopes and fears. This fundamental ambiguity is nowhere more clearly on display than in the issue of right speech, an ancient Buddhist application of the principle that human sanity as well as social harmony calls for communication that is honest, helpful, clear, and wholesome, rather than deceptive, coercive, and harmful. More »
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    Life in the MUD Paid Member

    Imagine a world in which the inhabitants create their own physical environments and characters by writing them into existence. In this world, it is possible to converse, exchange gestures, express emotions, and even have sex. Such are the virtual worlds of MUDs (Multi-User Domains)—popular computer-based multi-player simulations which have evolved from the fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons.” In “Dungeons and Dragons,” players assume the roles based on characters described in the game’s manual. They have the appearance and abilities defined therein, and game play takes place on a game board that is like a map of the imagined territory of the game. In a MUD, all the action is mediated by a computer. Users invent their own characters as well as create their own physical environment through a combination of textual description, dialogue (like computer chat rooms), and simple programming. More »
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    Emotional Bandwidth Paid Member

    A FIRST-RATE DEMONSTRATION of the World Wide Web—which shows instantaneous global access to information about any conceivable subject—presents a dizzying realm of connective possibility. For some, the Net embodies a way to physically wire together human consciousness into All-Embracing Mind, the culmination of human evolution elaborated by the French Jesuit and mystic Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man. Yet actual experience quickly dashes the promise of reaching Teilhard’s Omega Point of converging consciousness. The wealth of information that lies out there seems poorly organized and largely inaccessible. Much of the conversation on the Net seems inane, confused, or just plain rude and hostile. The frequency of angry outbursts of flame wars suggests failure to communicate rather than an ideal communications medium. More »
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    The First Noble Truth of Cyberspace Paid Member

    In a course I teach at MIT on democracy and the Internet, we were talking about the social impact of migrations in cyberspace (i.e., the capacity to move freely into networks and services that had previously existed as unconnected, self-contained islands). For example, America Online (AOL) had been a self-contained cyberspace continent whose users were confined within its borders. However, with the immense growth in popularity of the Internet, service providers have hastily constructed bridges…In a course I teach at MIT on democracy and the Internet, we were talking about the social impact of migrations in cyberspace (i.e., the capacity to move freely into networks and services that had previously existed as unconnected, self-contained islands). For example, America Online (AOL) had been a self-contained cyberspace continent whose users were confined within its borders. More »