Roadmap96: MAP27 - The Future ... | WebReference

Roadmap96: MAP27 - The Future ...


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"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am often asked what I think the Internet will be like in the future. The best answer that I can give is, "I have no idea, but it sure does sound neat."

I recently attended a conference that the International Space Camp held for the U.S. State Teachers of the Year. At this conference, one of the presenters -- an executive at BellSouth -- told the story of how a famous person once predicted that the telephone would revolutionize communication, and that every town would have *one* so that they could keep in touch with the outside world. I guess the moral of this story is that if you make predictions about the future, you run a really good chance of looking silly when the future actually arrives.

I do know that the Internet is the precursor to an "Information Superhighway" that is going to be based on high-speed, fiber optic cables and a combination TV/Computer/Fax/Telephone that will allow us to access a mountain of information in seconds with just a few simple commands. (Hopefully, by that time we will be able to forget all of those FTP commands!)

I do know that the Information Superhighway will change the way we look at entertainment, research, shopping, interpersonal communication and education.

I also know that there are some obstacles that must be overcome before the Information Superhighway can achieve its fullest potential. Fortunately, the problems that the Internet is facing today -- universal access, parental control over the information children have access to, censorship issues -- are all problems that have been dealt with before by the two most overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated groups in our society: classroom teachers and librarians. There are a lot of things that we can learn from teachers and librarians. Hopefully, this time around we will actually listen to them. :)

I am truly excited about the long-range plans for the Information Superhighway. The problem with long-range plans, however, is that long-range planners often lose sight of present needs. The future of the Information Superhighway will indeed be incredible, but that future isn't here yet. Until that future *IS* here, we need to remember that the 100,000 people who join the Internet each month need to be trained to use TODAY'S technology.

That is what this workshop is all about. Twenty-six lessons ago, I told you that

Over the next few weeks I am going to:

How am I going to do all of this? Well, each one of these daily lessons will give you a glimpse at one small part of the Internet. We will talk about particular tools and sites, show you some traps to avoid, and even show you some basic commands that will help you use the tools to your own advantage. In the end, I hope that you will gain a better understanding of the individual parts and pieces that, when put together, make up the Internet.

Thank you for joining me on this trip. I hope you have had fun, and I wish you the best of luck as you continue your journeys around the Internet.

... and watch out for them squirrels!!

Patrick Douglas Crispen
The University of Alabama
Post Office Box 860857
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35486-0008



Patrick Douglas Crispen is a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in Economics through the College of Arts and Sciences. (Yes, you heard right ... he's a student!). Prior to attending the University, he worked at the United States Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, as a Simulations Director and founding staff member of the Space Academy Level II program.

Crispen first connected to the Internet in the Spring of 1992 so that he could send e-mail to his father, an engineer at Boeing, asking him for money. Crispen has paid his way through school with student loans and work-study jobs, and in the Spring of 1994 he accepted a position working the overnight shift at the front desk of a University residence hall. Using the computer at the front desk, he taught himself how to use the Internet in an attempt to keep himself awake.

In May of 1994, Crispen competed in his first Internet Hunt ... and won. In the same month, he started working on an introductory Internet training presentation for the National Association of College and University Residence Hall's 1994 National Conference at Northern Arizona University. His presentation at Northern Arizona University was the only program out of 300 to receive a perfect score from the participants (although the conference's programming staff misplaced his scores until after the close of the conference). In the months that have followed, he has repeated versions of this presentation for the University of Alabama's students and staff, and at various conferences around the country.

During the summer of 1994, Crispen decided to expand his presentation into a month-long Internet training workshop to be conducted over the Internet. This workshop ("Roadmap") started accepting participants in July of 1994. By October of 1994, word-of-mouth advertising for the workshop had been so successful that over 62,000 people from 77 countries had enrolled in one of the three Roadmap workshop distribution lists.

The original version of the Roadmap workshop has been distributed to over 500,000 people around the world, making the Roadmap workshop the most popular Internet training workshop in history. What makes this even more incredible is that at the time he wrote the workshop lessons Crispen did not even own a computer (he wrote the entire Roadmap workshop using the University of Alabama's public access computer labs).

According to Crispen, he wrote the workshop "to give new users free training on how to use the Internet, to give the University of Alabama some positive publicity, and to ensure that I can get a *JOB* when (and if) I graduate. The Career Center told me that the most important part of a job search is 'networking'. So, I networked." :)

Crispen is currently a student employee at the University of Alabama's Computer Center Helpdesk. He is also the author of "Atlas for the Information Superhighway" (ISBN 0-538-65864-9), an Internet textbook published by South Western Educational Publishing.

Go to the Roadmap96 Syllabus | Go to the Roadmap96 Homepage

Originally written by Patrick Douglas Crispen