Excerpted from Navigating the Internet with Prodigy (sams.net, 1995)
The Society Called Cyberspace
There is a new country in the world. Although only a few years old, already it is edging its way into the ranks of the 20 most populous countries in the world and growing rapidly. In the time it takes most countries to add one or two percent to their numbers, its size doubles. Its citizenry is more diverse than any that has ever existed. Like any body of people, this one has its own rich and varied culture. Its territory is defined by silicon wafers, fiber optic cables, and dancing electrons, for it is a country not of substance, but of mind. It is called cyberspace, and it is a force to be reckoned with.
All cultures possess certain characteristics that distinguish them from all others. It is these unique attributes that define them and give them identity. The same is true of cyberspace. The defining qualities that give this body of people its singular identity is the subject of this chapter.
There are 10 specific characteristics that are unique to cyberspace and that set it apart from any other agglomeration of humans that has previously existed. This is a discussion of those attributes.
Cyberspace is Anarchistic
As you will recall from the first chapter of this book, the great irony of the Internet is that it is an anarchy spawned by the most powerful military institution ever seen on this planet. It was created in direct response to the dangers presented by the most powerful weapons in history. In an age when so many essentially peaceful inventions and discoveries have been turned into weapons, this weapon has been turned into an instrument of peace. Never has the transformation of swords into plowshares been more dramatic.
Great political minds, from Plato to Alexander Hamilton, have held anarchy in the highest contempt. In the early years of this century, anarchy was the catchword of political activists who later turned out to be textbook communists. Is it any wonder that when the “A” word is mentioned in polite company, men gasp and women turn away.
In researching this subject, however, I have discovered one interesting fact. Nearly every reference to anarchy I found in the literature offered the same reason for condemning anarchy in favor of strong political authority: the public safety. Historically, when no one takes charge by rule of force, whether duly-elected officials or self-styled dictators, physical violence has been perpetrated on the citizenry by one another.
Cyberspace, however, does not exist in the usual physical terms. There is no question of physical violence because there is no medium through which to do it. If I anger someone on the Internet, about all they can do is call me a “big gunky” or something a bit more colorful. If they should decide to buy a plane ticket and come banging on my door with the intent to do me grave bodily harm, then it is no longer happening in cyberspace. Now we are back in “the real world.”
So anarchy in cyberspace is enormously safer for all than it has ever proven to be in the physical world. This safety is intuitively recognized by individuals and it encourages them to express themselves more openly than they do in other areas of their lives. An unfortunate comment in cyberspace may put one’s nose out of joint, but it will never break it.
Regardless of opinions, and there are so many, anarchy is alive, well, and working among the tens of millions of souls who live part of the time in cyberspace. As long as it keeps working, it is doubtful that any force on earth will be able to change it.
Perhaps anarchy, like this great experiment in democracy called the United States, is a social skill that must be learned, and which cannot be taught. If so, might not the Internet be an Athens from which a greater and more enduring rendition later will spring? And if that should be the case, then we all are participants in what may later be known as the greatest social experiment of all time.
Cyberspace is Based on Cooperation
Competition has long been revered, at least in our capitalistic society. The mere mention of the word has been known to bring tears to the eyes of captains of industry and athletes, among others. Many believe that whatever we have that is of value we owe to the blessings of competition.
What is methodically overlooked is the cooperation that inevitably accompanies all competition. Certainly the purest form of competition is war. Yet, even in war, there is cooperation between enemies. They must agree to show up on the same battlefield, or they cannot fight (“What if they threw a war and nobody came?”). Armies in the field must cooperate with one another in order to fight. Then there is the Geneva Convention, the Code of Conduct, Rules of Engagement, and other sets of agreements too numerous to mention. So even in the most sacred forms of competition, cooperation is utterly indispensable.
The interesting thing is that you cannot have competition without cooperation, but you can have cooperation without competition. That is the second singular feature of the Internet: it is based on cooperation rather than competition. Don’t think me so naive as to believe that there is nothing competitive going on in cyberspace. Far from it. But that competition is part of the content, not an element of its defining nature.
It has long been assumed that competitiveness is an essential component of human nature, but we seldom hear about man’s inherent cooperativeness. Yet in cyberspace, the most unrestricted playing field in history, this is the quality that has risen to the surface.
The Internet literally owes its existence to cooperation freely given. No where else can you find so much freely offered. Everywhere you look, you find free information, free services, free speech, free art, free, free, free….
Cooperation is monumentally cheaper than competition as a means to accomplishing common goals. Perhaps best of all, in matters of cooperation, everyone wins. This is in stark contrast to most forms of competition where someone is assured of losing.
People like to be cooperative. It feels good. The results are better for everyone. It is as efficient as it is effective. To choose competition over cooperation is, as Mark Twain once put it, “…like preferring a watch that must go wrong over one that can’t.” In the popular vernacular, it’s a no-brainer.
Cyberspace is Alive
The Internet is in perpetual motion. It is never the same in any two consecutive moments. It grows, changes, and uses itself to transform itself constantly. I suppose it would be stretching things to suggest that it is in any meaningful way self-aware, but that is a requirement of humanity, not of life itself.
How else could it be, with thousands of networks connecting millions of computers and tens of millions of people? It is these people, computers, and networks that compose the Internet. One could even say that it is some new form of bionic entity; a living being part machine, part human. There are times when you’d swear that it even had a mind of its own.
The Internet is as complex as the human brain and far more massive than the largest dinosaur. It is growing at a rate comparable to that of a newborn child. The difference is that it is not a child. It is 25 years old and it has been growing at that same rate since its inception. If there is any legitimate parallel to that, I’d like to know what it is.
Another property of life is that it is responsive to its environment. The Internet adapts to changing conditions that no biological life form could possibly hope to cope with. What’s more, the number of times it-the whole Internet-does this per second is of the same order of magnitude as the distance to the farthest star in inches.
The one component of the definition of aliveness that the Internet does not meet self-evidently is that of reproduction. It doesn’t, in any meaningful sense of the words, bear children. But then, neither do amoebae. These simple protozoa simply divide (a binary process) to conquer the challenges of procreation. As Tom Robbins noted in his novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, the first amoeba that ever existed may still be around.
In terms of the usual definition of reproduction, however, consider this. ARPANET (now long dead) begot Internet, which in turn begot…. You see what I mean? Just because it doesn’t bounce little baby Internets on its virtual knees, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t procreate or that it never will.
In another sense, the Internet is constantly spawning clones of portions of itself. Every time you download a file, you make a “genetic” copy of a part of the Net. Is this procreation? Let me try to put this question into perspective.
In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a court was convened to decide whether an android, Commander Data, was a machine or a sentient life form. This was a very difficult issue to resolve because he was the only entity like himself. The old, tried-and-true definitions proved inadequate to the challenge. New perspectives were required and, of course, in the end he was declared sentient, a person in effect.
With that as a backdrop, we may be in need of new definitions of the qualities that constitute “life.” The popular issues of abortion, right to life, genetic engineering, and physician-assisted suicide are all forcing us to reevaluate our old, comfortable definitions of life. What is it? When does it begin and end? Who has ultimate authority for a life? These are questions for which the conventional wisdom has no adequate answers.
The same situation is emerging now in other areas, including the Internet. Despite the preceding paragraphs, I don’t really believe that the Internet, or any non-human part of it, truly deserves to be called a life form. Yet it is not terribly difficult to imagine an evolution of the phenomenon that might make answering such questions far more ambiguous than it is now.
In any event, the Internet is changing, growing, and evolving at a rate that leaves ordinary human comprehension woefully lacking. Is it a life form? Probably not. Is it alive? In many important respects, yes.
Cyberspace is Interactive
Although the properties of cyberspace discussed in this chapter possess the potential for transforming our planet in major ways, none is as powerful or as subtle as interactivity. The human race has been communicating by what is known as the mass media for centuries, ever since the first newspaper was printed. In this century we have seen the rise of electronic media like radio and television. All these have one thing in common, however: they are one-way streets. They give some people the ability to talk to many people at once.
This has led to the development of an establishment of information elite companies and people who determine what the public will and will not see and hear. Without casting them in the role of despots or power mongers, the simple fact is that ordinary individuals have to do some-thing extraordinary to wind up on television screens or front pages internationally.
The Internet changes that forever. It is not hindered by the limitations of broadcast or print media. Everyone who is connected has more or less equal access to everything available. What’s more, everyone has equal access to others. There is no elite establishment and it seems doubtful that there will be. This egalitarianism is one of the quintessential ingredients of cyberspace and an exceedingly powerful one.
No longer are the many dependent on the tastes, judgment, and wishes of the few. In cyberspace, we finally have immediate control over what we see. I have to laugh when I hear people talking about the Information Superhighway and equating it with 500 cable channels. The same basic technology that would allow 500 channels will allow 500 million of them. Even the very concept of channels is already in the process of becoming an artifact. The term “channels,” as we have always known it, belongs to the traditional mass media and is irrelevant in cyberspace.
Regardless of how people interact with one another in cyberspace, whether one-to-one or one-to-many, as on the Web, the invisible filaments that connect us are omnidirectional.
Organizations, public, private, and governmental, can no longer operate in the relative security of TV studios or state houses. Stonewalling, as a tactic, is no longer a viable option. Ordinary people can now speak out immediately and en masse. Never in history has this kind or degree of interaction existed, much less with the speed, availability, and ease with which it exists today. Because we have never known a world without the one-way streets of mass communication, we can scarcely be expected to know what the effects this property of cyberspace will have, given some time to evolve. We can be sure of one thing, however: in the fullness of time, little in our lives will be left unaffected. It may not show much now, but even a whale starts from a single cell.
Another powerful effect of this interactivity is the rate at which information can propagate through cyberspace. It is to communication what superconductors are to electricity. Ideas have always been more contagious than any virus, provided they had a medium through which to spread. For most of human history, the only medium available was physical contact and speech. Only in the last few hundred years has the printed word provided a new and dramatic improvement. In the middle of the last century, the telegraph provided a major enhancement. Soon thereafter came the telephone, radio, and television. Even though these technologies improved over time, no new communication technologies emerged until now.
While the telegraph was something of a miracle in its time, as were the telephone and radio, they did not allow us to move a simple photograph very well, let alone an encyclopedia. Television did much better, but even it had serious limitations. It is inexact, cumbersome, expensive, especially on the sending end, and handles only pictures and sound well. In cyberspace, no kind of information is barred from the pipeline. The only requirement is that it must be fit into a digital form first. About the only things we haven’t been able to do that with so far are emotions and physical objects. With the advent of virtual reality simulations, even those limits will be more spacious.
Make no mistake. Our world is poised on the verge of a transformation that will rival those associated with fire-making and the wheel. The interactions enabled by the Internet and related technologies are at the dead center of this process. It will take a very long time to see where it really leads us, but some of its profound impacts will be felt in the near future.
The Human Side of the Internet
The following is an excerpt from Magic Mail, by Ned B. Johnson, © 1994.
Thus far almost all examinations and observations of [the Internet] have been focused almost entirely on the wonders of the enabling technologies involved. Little has been said about the role the Internet is playing and will continue to play in the growth of the human race as citizens of this corner of the universe. This is a story in dire need of telling. It is a tale written neither by nor for idiots but rather by, for, and about a noble species at last coming of age. It is the wondrous saga of man discovering himself through his brothers and sisters. And, as if to underscore its singularity, it is written, not in words and actions, but in streams of electrons and silicon wafers and fiber optic cables. The journey has barely begun and already it has such force that it terrifies the faint of heart even as it thrills the adventurous. If it seems unlikely that the destiny of man Should be tied to dots of glowing phosphor and incomprehensible machines, then maybe it would be good to remember that once even fire was considered the enemy of man. All things seem good when they serve us-and perhaps they are.
Cyberspace is a Level Playing Field
If the pen is mightier than the sword, then it is because ideas are more potent than bullets and imagination more powerful than fear. Guns are often called “equalizers,” which presumably means that you don’t have to be George Forman to defend yourself with one. But we saw in the Old West what happens when everyone carries a gun: people get shot. Enter the new power–Cyberspace.
One of the signal characteristics of cyberspace is the scarcity of destructive potential. Everyone can make cyberspace part of their lives without anyone getting hurt. All creatures great and small are equal in the vast reaches of cyberspace as long as they can punch a key or click a mouse.
This even-handedness is in stark contrast to all previous social environments. The closest parallel might be the American Dream that has brought immigrants from all over the world to these shores in their quest for it. The simple notion that you can be anything to which you are willing to devote yourself has proven itself hypnotically seductive. From pilgrims to boat-people, millions have endured unspeakable hardships just for the chance to see what they could become.
Now, in cyberspace, this principle of equality of opportunity has reached new heights. The only remaining barriers that separate us from an ideal environment within which to bask in his freedom are the price tags still associated with it. While the technology needed to be a full participant costs little more than most people invest in their television sets, there are still those who simply can’t afford it. Unfortunately, many of them are the very ones who need it most. I can’t help believing that the Internet will provide its own solution to this problem as time goes by.
Even now, perfectly serviceable, used computers can be found for a fraction of their price when new. In a recent poll, Americans revealed that their greatest fear about their computers is that they will become obsolete before they learn how to use them. This translates into a growing and renewable resource of used computing equipment. Even a system that is three generations behind the times can be a powerful tool. If somehow these “antiques” were to find their way into the hands of those who need them, the distance between haves and have-nots would begin to shrink. It is clearly in all of our best interests to see that this happens, one way or another.
In the meantime, the topography of human experience is leveling out in direct response to the changes taking place in cyberspace. It is the proverbial irresistible force, but without the immovable object. It will be more than a little interesting to witness how we handle this issue collectively. Don’t be too surprised if the solution comes in unanticipated ways.
While all this is going on, keep an eye out for a multiplication of David and Goliath stories. They are inevitable. While you’re at it, pay attention to the Goliaths that fall due to their poor assessment of what direction this evolution will take. It is rumored that at least one major Wall Street brokerage has an in-office pool on which communications industry giant will go under first. The interesting thing about it is, of course, that there seems little doubt that more than one will bite the dust. It’s only a question of which one(s) will go down first.
Following are some other suggestions for similar wagers:
Which person or company that no one has ever heard of will be the first to take the world by storm in cyberspace with a delicious new product or service?
Who will be the first person to publish some truly revolutionary thought on the Internet and achieve instant world-class fame and fortune?
Which law or government policy will be the first to be abandoned in direct response to a massive outcry in cyberspace?
Who will be the first politician whose career will be made (or destroyed) on the Internet?
Which country will be the first to insist that all of its citizens have the wherewithal to surf the Net?
Which major corporation will go broke overnight because of a backlash on the Internet and its ensuing boycott?
Are these speculations absurd? I’ll be darned if I know. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see any one of them happen in the next few years. In fact, it might not be completely out of the question to bet that they will all happen given a little time. Regardless of the likelihood of such things actually coming to pass, they are real possibilities and that, in and of itself, is the point.
There is an ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” There seems little doubt that we are already deep into some very interesting times. Whether it is a curse or a blessing remains to be confirmed, but the smart money is going down on the latter.
Cyberspace is Growing Very Fast
Probably the most dramatic of these singular characteristics of cyberspace is the sheer velocity at which it is growing. Nothing like it has ever happened on Earth, at least nothing we know about. What often becomes lost in the shuffle is that this growth isn’t some random accident. It is a direct and inescapable consequence of the driving forces behind it.
Whatever those forces are, they have one thing in common: people by the millions see some kind of value in getting connected. We can debate the source or even the validity of that value, but there is no arguing about the fact of people’s perception of it. That is clearly real and the rest is details.
Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is the universality and strength of the appeal cyberspace has. It crosses the traditional lines of age, sex, race, and geography. It is truly a one-size-fits-all attraction. Even Walt Disney and Ronald McDonald have to sit back and admire.
We have already explored many of the suspected reasons why people, even those who don’t really know what they’re getting into, flock to cyberspace like millions of sex-starved salmon heading upstream. You can bet on one thing, however: they all see a profit in it. For some, that profit is measured in dollars or some other local currency. For others, it is just the lure of discovery that they can’t resist. Still others are pulled by the opportunity to get to know people from all walks of life and cultures. The lure of mind-boggling stores of information is a big draw for many. Personally, I have to plead guilty to all of the above and a few more to boot.
Regardless of who is driven by which motives, the fact still remains that this is an unprecedented phenomenon possessed of the power to transform our very way of life. Add to this a momentum that would embarrass a run-away freight train, and you have the makings, not of pie in the sky, but of pie a lá modem.
Some might argue, “Sure, it’s growing fast, but we’ve seen things like that before. Even the hula hoop and pet rocks caught on explosively, but they didn’t last.” The flaws in that logic are simple: the Internet has been growing consistently for a quarter of a century and pet rocks don’t require a bare minimum investment of several hundred dollars.
Other skeptics might assert that people will grow tired of it. you can expect that the day after those same people tire of conversation, learning, and making money. Don’t hold your breath.
Another persuasive argument is that people will become disappointed when all this technology fails to deliver on its promises. Even if it does somehow fail to materialize as advertised–a very shaky premise at best–how can that affect those who had no firm expectations going in? It has been estimated that as many as three-quarters of the people who get themselves connected aren’t really sure what to expect. Given a little time, however, they can go on all day and night touting the virtues of their virtual lives.
The simple fact is that the Internet and its close relatives in cyberspace already offer enough real value to those who want it to sustain themselves indefinitely. If even a fraction of the promises for the future actually materialize, we could see an increase in the rate at which new people are drawn into the gravitational pull of cyberspace.
Cyberspace is a Bargain
If you are sitting in your living room, without a computer or even a telephone, you will have to spend some money for a ticket to cyberspace. Soon, however, half of all Americans will already have both of those technologies already. For them the cost will be equivalent to a couple of trips to Burger King a month. We are not talking about the national debt here.
As the infrastructure and destination services are paid for, the actual cost of services will drop. This will take a while because it is an enormously expensive investment on the part of utility companies and other providers. It doesn’t amount to much when it is distributed among millions of users, but, even then, it still takes a while to recoup billions of dollars in capital investment.
There are other forces at work that will tend to reduce the cost. Sheer numbers of users is one of the most powerful of these. Another is competition for market share. Value, composed of quality at a price, will richly reward those who offer much for very little. As more and more people and companies enter the fray in earnest, we can expect to see the quality of services improving even as the costs drop.
One of the least visible forces in the equation is that the Internet itself helps to make it less expensive to provide these services. In economics, this kind of arrangement is called the accelerator effect. The entire computer industry has benefited from this self-feeding phenomenon. That’s one of the keys to the tremendous growth we have seen in the last two decades.
Even today, however, providing Internet connectivity to individuals and organizations is ridiculously cheap. One administrator of a large university recently stated that the per-student cost of providing Internet accounts was between two and three dollars a year. A similar amount will provide the “backbone” facilities needed to move information over longer distances. This, of course, doesn’t include many of the important fringe benefits, but it does debunk the myth that huge government subsidies are required to keep things going.
It is my hope that the day will come, possibly soon, when it will cost more to bill people for their time and activities than to just kick open the gates for a flat fee and turn them loose. The age of metered usage is bleeding to death right before our very eyes. It will still take a while to die completely, but it’s another case of when, not if.
One of the chief reasons why such an amazing service is so inexpensive is that we have become unbelievably good at inventing inexpensive ways to get the job done. The same is true of building the hardware needed to do it. Are we going to get even better at it? Try to stop us. The only down side to it is that not everything in life works as well. Maybe our success with cyberspace will somehow facilitate making that dream come true as well. It is indeed an interesting time in which to live.
Cyberspace is HUGE
The vastness of cyberspace is literally incomprehensible. First, you can’t see it all at once, so you have to imagine it. It’s a little like trying to imagine all the people on Earth. If you think you can handle that one, then try to add to it that each of them has a life, complete with a past, present and future. Don’t try too hard, though. You don’t want to blow a circuit or anything. Suffice it to say that none of us will ever be able to fully appreciate how huge it is now, let alone in a few years. When we get decades or centuries into the future, I start nodding off. Enough is too much.
“So what?” you may ask. “What is the good of having so much stuff out there that I can’t even begin to realize how much there is, let alone what it all is?” That actually is not a bad question. The simplest answer is that the more there is, the more likely you are to find what you want.
Henry Ford is alleged to have said of the Model A, “You can have it in any color you want, as long as it’s black.” One in a field of one. It reminds me of the old Soviet-style elections with one name on the ballot. One would have to utterly worship simplicity to find that an appealing prospect.
In the world in which we live, diversity and variety are generally considered to be attractive. With the exception of the devil and the deep blue sea, we like having choices. We also like getting just what we want, and quickly. Instant gratification, for all the bad press it has received in the past, isn’t a cardinal sin as far as I know. Cyberspace offers us more of these values than most of us have ever imagined and it could not do so without its immense size.
As an example, I met a man the other day who mentioned a freeware communications driver that had solved a problem he had with modem errors. Because I had been having the same kinds of errors, I was very interested in his success. He didn’t tell me the name of the program nor where I could find it. The next day I used a search engine to locate such a driver program and in a few minutes I had downloaded a copy and installed it. Much to my pleasure and relief, it seemed to end the modem problems I was having. This is just the kind of instant gratification that endears the Internet to so many.
Later that same day, a friend dropped by who is a Corvette buff. We logged on to the Web and found some resources that amazed us both. The significance of these two anecdotes is that they illustrate the advantage of the vastness of the Internet. None of us would care how much information was out there if it didn’t include what interested us personally. The sheer magnitude of the Net increases the odds of finding what you’re looking for, no matter how obscure or specific. Without that kind of diversity, too many of us would be left out of the fun. Which brings us to cyberspace’s next mark of uniqueness: diversity.
Cyberspace is Diverse
I have long appreciated and admired the breadth of diversity encompassed within human life, but never as thoroughly as I have since I began to explore cyberspace. It wasn’t the breadth of the diversity alone that astounded me, but the depth that went hand-in-glove with it. For that experience, I was not fully prepared. How could anyone be? There is nothing in life that is similar enough to it on which you can base comparisons.
It is not just the degree to which cyberspace is unique that bends the mind, but rather the combination of that fact with the sheer cornucopia of ways in which those qualities are manifest. My wonder at it all increases every time I log on and explore. I can only hope that every reader has their own version of my experience in their own diverse way.
Cyberspace Runs the Gamut of Human Experience
Everywhere you look in cyberspace, there are opposites. Opposite views, opposite preferences, opposite approaches, all coexisting side by side. The odd thing is that after a while, you begin to expect it. Here are some examples of how extremes, and every inch in between them, exist in cyberspace.
Public to Private
Your participation in cyberspace can be easily tailored not only to your basic preferences, but to your momentary whims as well. You can be as public or as private as you feel like being at any given time.
From High Profile to No Profile
In cyberspace, you can be as invisible as a black cat in a dark cellar. An instant later you can decide to expose yourself to the world. No matter what your choice, it’s a mouse click or keystroke away.
At one extreme are the lurkers, who read newsgroups and listservs but never write anything. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the flame throwers, who can’t seem to resist any opportunity to share pieces of their mind with everyone. Most of us are somewhere in between.
From Famous to Obscure
If you choose to go the high profile direction, you can become a celebrity of sorts by doing something that makes people aware of you. Even that has opposites. Canter and Seigle found fame one way; others, like the rock band who staged the first live concert on the Net, have their own ways.
If you shun notoriety, keep your profile low, and no one will know you exist. You also might consider looking for a way to become more active. Interactivity is, after all, a two-way street.
In cyberspace, everyone is welcome. Some of their behavior might want for appreciation, but that, too, is tolerated to an extraordinary degree. Regardless of age, gender, race, education, politics, or geography, not only is there a place for you in cyberspace, but it is likely that you will only be alone there if you choose to be. You are known for what you do and say in cyberspace not how you look or what kind of car you drive or what you do for a living. You are under no obligation to reveal anything about yourself that you don’t want to. This is a kind of freedom that few of us could experience any other way. Perhaps that is why this anarchy we call cyberspace works as well as it does, sans rules, sans arbitrary structure, sans centralized authority.
Now that we have explored these 10 ways in which cyberspace is unlike anything that has ever existed, I hope you can begin to realize that when you surf the Net, you are in a foreign country of sorts. It’s just familiar enough to seduce you into thinking that nothing has changed. As you explore, however, you inevitably encounter reminders that this is indeed a brave new world and that little should be taken completely for granted.
If it weren’t for the immense sense of safety that goes with it, the uncertainty might be intolerable. As it is, that same uncertainty is experienced as gleeful anticipation. “I wonder what Santa’s going to bring me for Christmas?” If real life is a trip to the dentist for a root canal, then surfing the Net is a lifetime pass to every theme park on Earth and a plane to fly you there.
© Copyright 1994-2000 Ned B. Johnson, all rights reserved