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March 1997


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"Christian C. Young" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Intl Soc for the Hist Phil and Soc St of Biol <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 10 Mar 1997 23:11:31 -0600
text/plain (622 lines)
----------------- Message one ------------------
From:  Ronald Tobey <[log in to unmask]>
Date:  Feb 6, 1997
Subject:  Web Page on History of Science

Dear Colleague,

I would like to bering to your attention that I have put my students' guide to
the History of Science, _Horus Gets in Gear:  A Beginner's Guide to Research in
the History of Science_, on the World Wide Web.

The URL for the guide is <>

I welcome corrections and suggestions for improvement.

Best regards,
Ronald Tobey
[log in to unmask]

----------------- Message two ------------------
From: "E. Taborsky" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 11:49:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: semiotics conference

        Announcement of forthcoming conference on:

         To take place at Victoria College, University of Toronto
                       October 17, 18 and 19 of 1997.

The purpose of the conference/colloquium is to explore relations
among the three terms of the title with a view to extending the
concept of the sign beyond its conventional meanings and to move the
discipline of semiotics into a fertile new territory.

Whether analyzed by Aristotle within the themes of hylomorphism or
within modern quantum physics, the basis of life is energy. Matter is
'slow' or 'congealed', which is to say, it is encoded or semiosic
energy. All phenomena are energy configurations belonging to one and
usually more of three distinct orders or codal regimes: the physical,
the biological and the conceptual. These orders are not static; each
'evolves' non-teleologically not only within itself but also within
codal interactions with each other - such that semiosis can be
understood as the development of regimes of knowledge.

The Conference proposes that semiosis be reconceptualized as the
codification of energy and that the sign be reconceptualized as the
encoded state that enables such transformations. No action - whether
it be the formation of a codal regime of a codal state - is possible
without semiosis.

Semiosis and the Transformation of Energy understands that energy
must be constantly transformed within semiosic actions that retain it
within codes. Therefore, Energy as Information considers that energy,
in order to exist, must be semiosic. Self-Organized Knowledge is a
function of the semiosic organization of free energy into a new codal
regime. How do regimes of knowledge develop, expand, change,
disintegrate and form new semiosic regimes? Within Semiosis and
Emergence, we consider the emergence of more complex from less
complex systems, and therefore, the Evolution of Complexity explores
the relation of semiosis to the development of complex codal
operations capable of both long-term stability and flexible strategic

These include a mixture of key researchers in biology, physics,
chemistry, zoology - and philosophy, linguistics, literature,
languages and semiotics.

For a draft program, please see our Web Page:


Please contact Dr. Edwina Taborsky:
[log in to unmask]
Tel: (819) 822.9600 ext 2424
Fax: (819) 822.9661

----------------- Message three ------------------
From: "c.g. winder" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 14:02:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: What is Life?

At the 1993 ISHPSSB Conference at Brandeis University, C.Gordon Winder,
University of Western Ontario, conducted a session entitled "WHAT IS LIFE?
DEFINE LIFE". Numerous revisions have been made to the definition and
more changes can be made to make more comprehenisve. Publication
occurred in the Kitchener-Waterloo(Ont.) RECORD, and the University of
Western Ontario NEWS. The latter generated many letters to the editor.  A
definition of LIFE is pertinent, considering the recent action about the
disposal of frozen human embryos in the UK, and the presumed Martian
meteorite with micro-organisms found in Antarctica. The definition with
commentary is available by e-mail. Send a one word message - LIFE - to
<[log in to unmask]>. Constructive criticism is welcome. Snail-mail

------------------- Message four ------------------------
Date: Wed, 05 Mar 1997 04:53:22 -0500 (EST)
From: Barbara Horan <[log in to unmask]>

>From: [log in to unmask]
>Subj: *HISTORIC APRIL CITIZENS PANEL* on "Telecommunications & Democracy"
>      --April 1997
>Friends and Colleagues:
>     This is a trial "Loka Alert."  Loka Alerts are short essays
>or action alerts concerned with democratizing science and
>technology.  They are distributed free of charge by the Loka
>Institute, on average no more than once a month.  If you don't want to
>receive another one, just send an e-mail note to
><[log in to unmask]> with the message text: "unsub Loka-L trial".
>     The political premise behind most Loka Alerts is that: (1)
>science and technology have become crucial forces in shaping the
>modern world; and (2) it is both desirable and feasible to
>broaden the range of people who are able to influence decisions
>about science and technology.
>     Cheers,
>     Dick Sclove, Executive Director, The Loka Institute
>                                   Loka Alert 4:2 (March 5, 1997)
>From Dick Sclove, The Loka Institute:
>    Friends & Colleagues: The Loka Institute invites you to attend an....
>When:  April 2-4, 1997
>Where: At Tufts University (near Boston)
>What:  This event will be the first-ever U.S. emulation of a
>       European-style "consensus conference"--a process for
>       involving everyday citizens in policy deliberations on
>       complex, controversial topics.  The topic, "Telecommunica-
>       tions & the Future of Democracy," has profound
>       implications for all aspects of American society.  Vital
>       national and state-level policy decisons are pending.
>       But to date the voices of ordinary citizens--including
>       especially those who do not currently use computers or
>       the Internet--have not been heard!
>       On April 2nd-3rd a diverse group of non-expert
>       citizens (residents of the greater Boston area) will
>       cross-examine noted experts and stakeholders on telecommuni-
>       cations policy in an open public forum.  The next day
>       (April 4th) the lay panelists will announce their
>       own findings and policy recommendations at a national
>       press conference (also open to the public).  Scheduled to
>       attend, among others, is U.S. Congressman Ed Markey,
>       a leading U.S. legislator on telecommunications policy.
>       Citizens' Panels represent one promising antidote to
>       America's democratic malaise.  All are welcome to attend
>       this historic event.
>     o  The Loka Institute, Amherst, Mass.
>     o  The EPIIC Program (Education for Public Inquiry &
>           International Citizenship) at Tufts University
>     o  The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities & Public
>           Policy
>     o  MIT's _Technology Review_ magazine
>     o  University of Massachusetts Extension
>     o  The Jefferson Center, Minneapolis, MN
>     Supplementary financial support has been provided by a grant
>from the U.S. National Science Foundation.
>     The times and locations for the pilot Citizen's Panel on
>"Telecommunications & the Future of Democracy":
>          When:  APRIL 2ND from 9 AM TO NOON and
>                           from 1 PM TO 3:30 PM
>                 (Lay panel listens to diverse experts testify)
>                 APRIL 3RD from 9 AM TO NOON
>                 (Lay panel freely cross-examines previous day's
>                  expert witnesses.  This is dramatic!!)
>         Where:  In the HILLEL CENTER of TUFTS UNIVERSITY on
>                 BOSTON).
>     the public):
>          When:  APRIL 4th at 11 AM (Lay panel announces their
>                 own findings and policy recommendations.  Also
>                 dramatic!!)
>         Where:  In the COOLIDGE ROOM OF BALLOU HALL, again on
>                 MASSACHUSETTS
>     FOR FURTHER INFORMATION on logistical details or on the
>organization of this event, contact:
>Kerri Sherlock                        Laura Reed
>Project Assistant                     Project Manager
>Tel. +(617)628-5000 ext. 2045         Tel. +(617)926-3431
>Fax  +(617)627-3940                   Fax  +(617)926-6117
>E-mail: [log in to unmask]    E-mail: [log in to unmask]
>on European experience with consensus conferences, see RICHARD
>issue of TECHNOLOGY REVIEW magazine (vol. 99, no. 5, pp. 24-31).
>This article is also available on the World Wide Web at
><>.  For general
>background information on democratizing science and technology,
>see Richard Sclove's book, _DEMOCRACY AND TECHNOLOGY_ (further
>information at the end of this post).  Or CONTACT THE LOKA INSTITUTE
>The Loka Institute
>Tel. +(413) 582-5860
>Fax  +(413) 582-5811
>E-mail: [log in to unmask]
>World Wide Web:
>     For those unable to attend the pilot Citizen's Panel, a
>future Loka Alert will report the outcome (for a free Loka Alert
>subscription, see below).  This information will also be placed
>on the Loka Institute Web page: <>.
>                  on the Pilot Citizen's Panel:
>Demographic Composition of the 15-Member
>     Lay Panel........................................ (1/3 page)
>Lay Panelist Quotes: Why They Are Participating.......   (1 page)
>Objectives for this Pilot Citizen's Panel............. (1/2 page)
>Procedural Steps in Organizing a Citizen's Panel......   (1 page)
>Issue Discussion: Telecommunications & the Future
>    of Democracy................................... (2-1/2 pages)
>About the Loka Institute..............................   (1 page)
>COMPOSITION OF THE 15-MEMBER LAY PANEL for the Citizen's Panel on
>    "Telecommunications & the Future of Democracy":
>Gender:    8 Female, 7 Male
>Ages:      5 between 14-34, 5 between 35-49, 5 who are 50 or
>               older
>Race:      10 White, 4 African American (with 1 Haitian), 1
>               Other (Native American, in part)
>Education: 3 High School, 3 some College, 9 College Graduate
>Geography: 8 Urban, 7 Suburban
>Computer:  6 with no prior Internet experience (including 3 who
>               have never used a computer for any purpose), 1
>               with extensive computer and Internet experience,
>               the rest with some experience
>Occupations: Arts Administrator, Automobile Restorer, Corrections
>               Officer (retired), Engineer, Unemployed (homeless/
>               phoneless), City Year Volunteer from Haiti,
>               Corporate Manager, Teacher/Nurse, Consultant,
>               Writer/Actor, Unemployed, High School
>               Graduate/City Year Volunteer, Computer Manager,
>               Executive Assistant, Engineer (retired).
>     "I am anxious to participate.  I'm at a point where I want
>to give something back."  --Contract manager from a sonar imaging
>     "I became a voter in Roosevelt's time when I believed that
>my voice counted.  I would like my vote to count again."  --A
>woman from Cambridge and a former corrections officer
>     "I am a founder of the Boston Coalition for Freedom of
>Expression and I have been following this issue for years."  --An
>unemployed man and former case worker
>     "I live steeped in antiquity and I won't give houseroom to
>computers or microwaves.  Although the superhighway of technology
>is foreign to me, I am interested in the ways that technology
>will affect education."  --A woman from Andover who has never
>used computers
>     "There is a lot I can learn and a lot that I may have to
>teach someday."  --A young Haitian who is currently working for
>City Year
>     "I have been homeless since 1991.  I am a representative of
>the have-nots."  --A woman living in a Cambridge shelter
>     "I am frustrated with this issue because I know pieces but
>not the whole picture."  --A college-educated woman and
>consultant who would like to open her own photography business
>     "I like the format and the topic."  --A recent high school
>graduate from Allston who restores automobiles
>     "I want to have a hand in preserving democracy."  --A writer
>and actress
>     "I am a passionate advocate for everyday people to have
>their voices heard."  --An arts administrator and community
>organizer from Roxbury
>     "I am concerned that the working poor will not be able to
>afford democracy."  --A former MIT Community Fellow who currently
>manages a computer clubhouse for inner city youth
>     "If information is the foundation of democracy, then access
>to information is the cornerstone."  --A retired industrial
>engineer from Acton
>     For several reasons the results of this pilot Citizen's
>Panel promise to be of broad interest throughout the U.S. and
>     During the past decade many Americans have expressed
>deepening frustration with the inadequate opportunities in our
>nation for citizen involvement in public policy decisions.  At
>the same time, with computer and telecommunications technologies
>changing at lightening pace, many people are anxious about being
>left in the dust...or resent being forced to watch from the
>     Thus substantively, the goal of the pilot Citizen's Panel is
>to offer a diverse group of non-experts (in this case, Boston
>area residents) an opportunity to develop and publicize informed
>judgments on emerging technologies and policies that promise to
>profoundly affect American society.  A Citizens' Panel on this
>topic is especially important because new telecommunications
>systems promise to alter life for *everyone* in the U.S.--
>independent of whether one has ever used a computer or ever wants
>to--yet to date the vast pool of non-computer users, for example,
>has had virtually _no_ representation in telecommunications
>policy deliberations.  Moreover, while the Citizen's Panel
>mechanism has been used now about 20 times in four European
>nations (Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Norway), the
>majority of European implementations have concerned
>biotechnology, and not one has yet focused on telecommunications.
>     Procedurally, this first-time U.S. emulation of the European
>"consensus conference" process will provide an initial test of
>whether such an approach can be adapted to work in a society as
>socioeconomically diverse as the U.S.  (As organizers of a first-
>time U.S. pilot, we expect to make lots of mistakes; our
>ambition here is not perfection, but to learn.)  But we anticipate
>that the pilot will help demonstrate that the Citizens Panel
>process, or others related to it in spirit, could be replicated and
>incorporated routinely into public policy deliberations--thus
>helping to redress America's serious democratic malaise.
>     The basic process of the pilot Citizens' Panel is:
>     (1) The organizers select a complex, controversial policy
>issue (in this case, emerging telecommunications systems and the
>future of democracy).
>     (2) The organizers assemble a steering committee comprising
>a balanced group of knowledgeable specialists, including
>representatives of organized stakeholder groups.
>     (3) With guidance from the Jefferson Center in Minneapolis
>(originators of the related Citizens Jury process), the Project
>Manager--assisted by a group of students participating in Tufts
>University's EPIIC Program--recruits a diverse pool of residents
>of the greater Boston area.  They use random phone calling (more
>than 1000 calls), supplemented by word-of-mouth networking to
>ensure, for example, that non-phone owners and non-computer users
>are also represented.  Each person contacted who indicates a
>readiness to participate is asked to complete a questionnaire.
>     (4) A final lay panel of 15 members is selected with the aim
>of achieving a balanced group that fairly represents the
>community of greater Boston.
>     (5) The lay panel is briefed over the course of two weekends
>(the first was February 22-23, 1997; the second will be on March
>8-9).  During these background meetings--which are professionally
>facilitated to ensure that all members have a fair chance to
>contribute and that no one or two members dominate--the panel
>decides what specific subsidiary issues will be addressed at the
>public forum in April.  The panel also helps develop a list of
>experts and stakeholders that they would like to question during
>the April forum.
>     (6) On April 2nd 1997 the lay panel will hear presentations
>by a diverse group of contending experts and stakeholders during
>a public forum at Tufts University.  After deliberating privately
>late that afternoon and in the evening, the lay panel will return
>to the public forum on the morning of April 3rd to freely
>question and cross-examine the experts who testified on the
>previous day.
>     (7) During the afternoon and evening of April 3rd, the lay
>panel will meet privately to discuss their views and to draft a
>report summarizing their group's findings.
>     (8) On April 4th the lay panel will announce its findings at
>an 11 a.m. press conference attended by policy makers, members of
>the expert panel, the media, and interested members of the
>     (9) The lay panel's report will be publicized through the
>media; distributed to members of Congress and the Executive
>Branch, and to local government officials; and discussed in
>follow-up local forums.  The objective is to increase popular and
>government awareness of citizen perspectives and concerns on this
>issue, to stimulate debate, and to contribute to public policy
>     Recent and impending advances in telecommunications services
>(reflected in the metaphor of an "information superhighway")
>promise sweeping transformations in economic organization,
>society, and politics.  Important and relatively familiar issues
>include questions of industrial structure (for example, the
>recent wave of corporate media megamergers), government
>regulation (for example, of free speech in cyberspace and
>personal privacy), the accessibility and affordability of new
>technologies, and whether or not they will be deployed in ways
>that support or erode civic functions (such as access to
>government information and to public policy deliberations).  But
>other issues, arguably at least as vital, have received much less
>public attention.
>     For instance, jobs will be created, eliminated, dramatically
>altered, and shift location.  There are already many examples of
>jobs ranging from industrial manufacture, insurance claims
>processing, and software design being exported to low-wage
>nations.  Within the U.S. individual workers may find their
>opportunity to flexibly adjust their own working conditions much
>enhanced (e.g., via the voluntary option to telecommute from home
>or from a local telecommuting center) or, alternatively,
>diminished as a result of computer pacing and monitoring or a
>nonvoluntary _requirement_ that they telecommute from home.  Any
>of these developments might, in turn, have implications for labor
>organizing and for workers' political power.
>     There will be direct and indirect repercussions for
>community life.  For instance, the growth of electronically
>mediated "virtual communities" may or may not prove a viable
>substitute for face-to-face social life.  But will virtual
>communities tend to erode or complement traditional forms of
>social engagement?  And will they tend to reinforce or break down
>current ethnic, racial, class and other social divisions?
>     Electronic commerce could benefit small communities and
>businesses that find themselves suddenly able to compete in
>larger markets.  Alternatively, electronic commerce could sap
>economic and cultural vitality from existing neighborhoods and
>downtown business centers.  And what might the social and
>environmental consequences be if, for example, new waves of
>affluent telecommuters resettle themselves from cities and
>suburbs into the once-remote countryside?
>     Any such economic and social transformations will, in turn,
>translate into changes in political structures and social power
>relations.  For instance, small or geographically dispersed
>groups, or people with physical disabilities, may be able to
>communicate and coordinate in new, socially empowering ways.  But
>it is also possible that the new technologies will make
>individuals more dependent on global market forces and on
>multinational corporations that they cannot appreciably
>influence.  The new technologies could also enhance the relative
>power of government and corporate bureaucracies, by dint of these
>organizations' superior capability to amass, analyze and act on
>the basis of huge agglomerations of data.  Moreover, the
>governance of territorially-based political jurisdictions could
>be challenged if social relations become increasingly
>     Thus, opinion differs widely on whether the coming changes
>will on balance be socially beneficial or detrimental.  There are
>optimists who predict an impending Utopia of global creativity,
>prosperity, and harmony.  There are pessimists who foresee
>wrenching economic dislocations and deepening social and
>political inequality (sometimes described as a society of
>information "haves" and "have nots").  In between, there are a
>wide array of intermediate or alternative views.
>     Opinions even vary on whether the emerging
>telecommunications systems will indeed fundamentally change
>societies, or simply extend social trends underway for other
>reasons, or merely reproduce prevailing social systems.
>Meanwhile, technological determinists--who come in both
>optimistic (e.g., Newt Gingrich) and pessimistic (e.g., the
>Unabomber) variants--tend to view social outcomes as largely
>predetermined by socially autonomous technological imperatives.
>But others insist that the specific technologies that are
>adopted, and their ultimate social consequences, will depend
>crucially on social choices and policies governing their
>development, design, and use.
>     The current climate of uncertainty over the future of
>telecommunications provides citizens with a remarkable
>opportunity to formulate and publicize their own judgments.  For
>instance, the U.S. Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996 mandates
>a series of important Federal Communications Commission and state
>public utility commission decisions during the next few years
>that will shape the future of telecommunications--and
>consequently the economy, society and politics--for many years to
>     The Loka Institute, which is spearheading the U.S.
>introduction of the Citizen's Panel process and other innovative
>methods for democratizing science and technology, is a nonprofit
>organization dedicated to making science and technology
>responsive to democratically decided social and environmental
>visit our Web page <> or contact us
>via E-mail at <[log in to unmask]>.
>      This post represents Loka Alert 4:2, one in an occasional
>series of electronic postings on democratic politics of science
>and technology issued by the Loka Institute.  LOKA ALERTS are
>issued free of charge, on average not more than once per month
>(which helps protect over-busy people from unwanted clutter).  IF
>INSTITUTE'S E-MAIL LIST, please send a message to:
><[log in to unmask]>.  If you enjoy Loka Alerts, please invite your
>friends and colleagues to subscribe too.  Thanks!
>--Dick Sclove, Executive Director
>  The Loka Institute, P.O. Box 355, Amherst, MA  01004, USA
>  E-mail: [log in to unmask]
>  World Wide Web
>           Tel. +(413) 582-5860; Fax +(413) 582-5811
>     The Loka Institute has openings for volunteer interns and
>paid work-study students for the remainder of 1997 (and beyond).
>We may also be able to take on one or two paid, full-time student
>interns for the summer of 1997 and beyond.  We are a small
>nonprofit organization, and the activities in which interns are
>involved vary from research assistance and writing to assisting
>in organizing conferences, project development and management,
>fundraising, managing our Internet lists, Web page updates,
>helping with clerical and other office work, etc.  If you are
>interested in working with us to promote a democratic politics
>of science and technology, please send a hard copy resume along
>with a succinct letter explaining your interest to: The Loka
>Institute, P.O. Box 355, Amherst, MA 01004, USA.
>     To learn more about the Loka Institute's concerns and
>vision, see Loka founder Richard Sclove's book, _DEMOCRACY AND
>TECHNOLOGY_--recognized in 1996 by the American Political Science
>Association as "the best book of the year on science, technology
>and politics".  For a paperback copy, contact your local
>bookseller or Guilford Press (in the U.S. telephone toll free
>800-365-7006; or, from anywhere, fax Guilford Press in the U.S.
>at +(212)-966-6708 or E-mail: [log in to unmask]):
>          "Mr. Sclove is refreshing in the way he rejects
>     ideas so nearly universally held that most people
>     have never thought to question them." -- _New York
>     Times Book Review_
>     LOKA COMPUTER NEEDS: Loka's staffing continues to expand,
>and with it our computer needs.  We would be very grateful to
>anyone who can help us acquire one or more, high-end (new or
>used) IBM-compatible 486's or better.  (We are a recognized by
>the I.R.S. as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, so
>any gifts are deductible on U.S. tax returns to the full extent
>of the law.)  Thanks!

Christian C. Young
Program in History of Science and Technology
University of Minnesota
[log in to unmask]

"Hallo!" said Piglet, "What are you doing?"
"Hunting," said Pooh.
"Hunting what?"
"Tracking something," said Winnie-the-Pooh very mysteriously.
"Tracking what?" said Piglet, coming closer.
"That's just what I ask myself.  I ask myself, What?"
"What do you think you'll answer?"
"I shall have to wait until I catch up with it," said Winnie-the-Pooh.