The Information Agenda

A sort of tele-novel
by Michael Jon Jensen

A Note from the Author

In 1990, I heard about the Ted Turner Tomorrow Award, which was to award a half-million dollars to a novel outlining a benign future where social problems had been solved. I'd been in writing seminars and graduate school for creative writing, struggling to prove that science fiction could be literature. I'd left that world, and had been involved in computer technology since that time ("living science fiction instead of writing it," I said). It was too perfect to pass up.
    At that point, "Windows" was still a clumsy OS competing with Geos, and the Internet was still a text-based arena belonging to under a few hundred thousand people at most, though for those people, the possibilities seemed limitless. I set about crafting a viable "information society" novel where the government put the Internet to use as a vehicle for social good.
    The model taken is that of a teleplay, a script that a Dan Rather- or Ted Koppel-like character would have for an in-depth analysis of the previous four years of a revolutionary-democrat president.
    My framework posited a president who, via popular support acquired from a ten-day series of brutally honest televised presentations, initiated a program of heavy investment in digital technologies to transform the country by enfranchising the disempowered, developed digital libraries and distance education, used the Online Freedom of Information Act to provide universal oversight of government agencies, initiated a community-based expertise-bartering system, and funded a programmer's consortium for the creation of socially beneficial software, among other things.
    It was set in 1996. Looking back over it now, it has become a sort of "alternative future" screenplay. Parts of it are dated, parts are still great. Most of it could still be achieved
    It's utterly ironic that I'm now publishing it on the Internet. I hope you enjoy it.

Michael Jensen, April, 1996

Jump to the beginning of The Information Agenda
For those of you short on time, section II and III have the ideological meat of the "information agenda."
Issues at Hand: II--The Context of the Information Agenda: Williams' First Gamble
Issues at Hand: III--The Content of the Information Agenda: Williams' Big Gamble