J. C. R. Licklider (1915-1990) was early to expound on the potential of computing. His papers “Man-Computer Symbiosis” and “The Computer as a Communications Device” (both collected here) foresaw many of the uses we make of computers and the Internet today.
In Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon write about “Lick’s” vision for computing’s influence on society:
In a McLuhanesque view of the power of electronic media, Lick saw a future in which, thanks in large part to the reach of computers, most citizens would be “informed about, and interested in, and involved in, the process of government.” He imagined what he called a “home computer console” and television sets linked together in a massive network. “The political process,” he wrote, “would essentially be a giant teleconference, and a campaign would be a months-long series of communications among candidates, propagandists, commentators, political action groups, and voters.”
My project WashingtonWatch.com is one of several efforts, however rudimentary, seeking to realize this vision. We’re working on it, Lick.