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Critical Issues Symposium to Examine
"Living with the Internet"

Posted September 21, 2000

HOLLAND -- There's a new frontier out there: the Internet, a virtual Wild West for the 21st century.

To hear some tell it, it's a wide-open place filled with opportunity, just waiting for those bold or clever enough to stake their claim and make their fortune. Others, though, have found the going harder, and the dream elusive. And, with the law still catching up, the road to prosperity is also traveled by snake oil salesmen and downright bandits.

This year's Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College will explore that new cyberland of possibility and peril. Titled "Gold Rush and Ghost Towns: Living with the Internet," the symposium runs Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 3-4, and will feature presentations on topics ranging from the ethics of downloading music, to privacy, to whether the Internet creates community or fragments it.

The public is invited. Except for a late-Tuesday concert, admission is free.

The Wild West has been adopted as a way of framing the topic because of issues common to the frontier experience of the 19th century and the online world of the nascent 21st, according to Alfredo Gonzales, assistant provost at Hope and long-time staff coordinator of the symposium. As examples, he cited the rush to development, fortunes won and lost, community formed and abandoned, exploitation, and the tension between law and freedom.

"The metaphor of the Wild West captures well the current image of the Internet," Gonzales said. "The new frontier is shaping our culture and who we are as a society."

"The themes which we have selected--such as exploration, exploitation, moral and ethical issues, and the question of community--offer us just a glimpse of the complexity and impact of the Internet," he said. "While we will not provide comprehensive coverage of all these themes, it is certainly our hope to raise questions, provide information and engage our community in what it is to live with the Internet."

The symposium will begin with a keynote address on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, with opening speaker Dr. Marshall Van Alstyne presenting "Internet Dreams: What's new, what's not, and what's next." Van Alstyne is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, where he teaches information economics, electronic commerce and computer simulation.

At 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Grand Rapids-based group "Domestic Problems" will perform in the Knickerbocker Theatre. "Domestic Problems" has established a presence on the World Wide Web that includes making some of the sextet's music available on-line, and lead singer Andy Holtgreive will participate in a panel discussion the next morning concerning music and the Internet.

Tickets for the concert are $3, and will be available only to members of the Hope community on Monday- Thursday, Sept. 25-28, and to the general public on Friday, Sept. 29, and Monday-Tuesday, Sept. 2-3, while supplies last. Tickets will be sold during business hours at the Student Union Desk in the DeWitt Center. The proceeds will support the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program at Hope.

The symposium resumes on Wednesday, Oct. 4, with the panel presentation on "Music and the Internet: Napster and All That," at 9 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. In addition to Holtgreive, the panel will include Joel Leach, who is a music copyright consultant and chair of music industry studies and percussion at California State University, Northridge in Los Angeles; and Sean Fochtman, a member of the Hope residence life staff.

The panel session will be moderated by Dr. Dorothy M. Bollinger, an attorney with Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel LLP in Pennsylvania who specializes in education law and cyberlaw. Bollinger will subsequently deliver a keynote address on Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Two groups of concurrent focus sessions will follow, at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. at locations throughout campus. The sessions will cover a variety of topics, and will include a presentation by recent Hope alumni Nate Oostendorp and Rob Malda, who helped co-found slashdot.com, and Peter Beckman, creator of adcritic.com.

The symposium will conclude with a keynote address on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre. The speaker will be Linda Bernardi of Mercer Island, Wash., who is president of Bernardi And Company, which provides strategic consulting services concerning new technology deployment.

A concert by the Hope College Wind Symphony will immediately precede the opening of the symposium. The group will perform its first concert of the season on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Admission is free.

First held in 1980, the Critical Issues Symposium is an annual all-campus event that examines a socially significant issue via presentations and small group discussions led by experts. Past symposium topics have ranged from apartheid in South Africa, to the American Dream, to genetic engineering and research, to feminism and faith. -30-


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