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1994 DIAC REPORT Page 13


Voices from the Margins
By Michael J. Muller

This issue of the CPSR Newsletter continues our interest in participatory design, and includes
conference information for the next major North American conference on that themeÑ PDC'94, the
Participatory Design Conference. PDC'94 is chaired by William Anderson. Its technical program is co-
chaired by Susan Irwin Anderson and Randall Trigg. The conference will take place in the research
triangle of North Carolina US, on 27-28 October 1994, immediately after the 1994 Computer
Supported Cooperative Work conference (CSCW) in the same location. See page 11 of this Newsletter
for details.

The topic of participatory design in and of computer systems has received a great deal of attention
recentlyÑsee, for example, the June 1993 of Communications of the ACM and Schuler's and Namioka's
new book, Participatory Design: Principles and Practices (Erlbaum). Therefore, we thought that we
should take a different approach in this issue of the Newsletter. Rather than repeat material from
recent publications, or anticipate new successes that will appear at PDC'94, we agreed on the theme of
"Voices from the Margins" of participatory design.

The four articles assembled here provide diverse perspectives of participatory work that is going on
outside of the computer area. In the first article, Richard Hughes reviews labor history in the US with
regard to employee participation in workplace decisions. He describes the historical choice points at
which US labor made different decisions from those made by Scandinavian labor, explicitly giving over
many workplace decisions to management. Richard also notes that US labor retained participatory
interests in health and safety issues, and he provides case studies that area.

Cydney Pullman describes the work of the Labor Institute (New York NY US) in participatory
curriculum development for unions and other employee organizations. She summarizes the successes of
their program, and provides case studies. Cydney also describes their Small Group Activity Method,
which may be of value to other organizations with similar goals. This and other resources are available
from the Institute (see the end of Cydney's article for access to these resources).

Elsie Nisonen provides an account of the Women's Safety Audit program of METRAC (Metro Action
Committee on Public Violence against Women and Children, Toronto Ontario Canada). Their approach
works with a constituency that is usually not organized (in the sense of "organized labor"). It is deeply
participatory: METRAC claims that women's life experiences have made them experts on the safety of
urban and campus spacesÑa kind of expertise that is unavailable to most architects and planners. The
METRAC safety audit process facilitates women's analysis of proposed or actual urban spaces, with
outcomes that improve safety for everyone. Elsie's article concludes with a list of resources that are
available from METRAC.

Vicki O'Day analyzes participatory curriculum development in US education. As was the case with Elsie
Nisonen's article, part of Vicki's focus is non-organized constituencies of the public education system.
She describes two different approaches to community involvement, illustrating each with a historical
example. As some readers of this Newsletter know, Vicki previously worked in the research
organization of Hewlett Packard Laboratories, and has been contributing to CPSR's work for years
(including an active role in PDC'92). Her article makes links between the participatory education
movement and CPSR's more focal interest in participatory design of computer systems. Vicki's analysis
is therefore a suitable conclusion to the "Voices from the Margins."

Inevitably, a collection of diverse pieces in limited space contains gaps. Readers of this issue of the
Newsletter will notice these, and I hope that they will tell me what absences and omissions they found
particularly important. In closing, I wanted to call attention to two failures on my part to recruit
articles: First. there is nothing here about the participatory ergonomics movement of the Pacific Rim.
Second, there is no contribution from the tradition of participatory action research. Readers interested
in these topics might consult Noro and Imada [1] and Reason and Rowan [2], respectively.


I thank the authors for their courage in working for enhanced social justice and democracy, and for
keeping faith in their efforts. I also thank them for their in diligence in the face of a somewhat
undefined task for a somewhat undefined audience.

I thank Susan Dray, Joan Greenbaum, Andy Imada, and Sarah Kuhn for consultations regarding this
issue of the Newsletter.

I thank Nikki Draper for the opportunity to work on this topic, and for her guidance throughout.


[1] Noro, K., and Imada, A.S. (Eds.) (1991) (Eds.). Participatory Ergonomics. London: Taylor and

[2] Reason, P., and Rowan, J. (1981). Human Inquiry. A Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research.
Chichester: Wiley.

Michael J. Muller, U S WEST Technologies, 4001 Discovery Drive, Boulder CO, 80303, 303-541-
6564 (voice), 303-541-6003 or -8182 (fax), or

Participatory Design in Occupational Health and Safety
by Richard E. Hughes
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

I was giving a lecture on participatory design when an engineer in the audience angrily said, "that is all
well and fine for Sweden, but that couldn't work here." How many times have we heard that? Although it
is true that there are some characteristics of ScandinaviaÑ particularly in the area of industrial
relationsÑthat are conducive to participatory design (PD), there are manufacturing industries in the
United States that are experimenting with PD. Moreover, the regulatory environment in some states
helps facilitate PD activities in the area of occupational health and safety.


In contrast to the Scandinavian context where co-determination laws formalized the right of labor to
participate in technological decisions, US labor legislation of the New Deal era codified a labor relations
model in which management retained authority over investment and technology decision making and
trade unions could negotiate over the resulting impacts on wages, hours, and working conditions. For
example, the contract between the United Autoworkers of America and General Motors Corporation
explicitly states that decisions over technology are the province of management:

"... the products to be manufactured. the location of plants, the schedules of production, the methods.
processes and means of manufacturing are solely and exclusively the responsibility of the corporation."
(H. Shaiken, Work Transformed, 1984, p.4)

However, one exception to this separation of "spheres of influence" is in situations where employee
health and safety are concerned. In situations where safety and health are affected by technology, trade
unions have a recognized right to influence the technological makeup of the work environment.

In Washington state, for example, the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act requires that
employers with more than ten employees have joint labor/management safety and health committees
(Washington Administrative Code, 296-24-045). Based on an employer survey, approximately 69%
of companies in Washington state have joint safety committees that meet on a regular basis.
Traditionally, joint safety committees in Washington have limited their activities to issues of
industrial safety and hygiene. However, over the last decade there has been a significant increase in the
number of joint ergonomics committees, which use principles of industrial ergonomics to prevent
work-related musculoskeletal disorders (such as low back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome). Due to
the nature of ergonomics, these efforts have necessarily involved changing work fixtures, tools, work
stations, and job designs. Thus, joint labor/management ergonomics committees address limited
technology design issues in a participatory context. Moreover, these activities are supported by the
joint safety committee regulation.


Kaiser Aluminum and the Steelworkers of America Local 329 in Spokane, WA, have embarked on an
experiment in joint/labor management cooperation in the area of occupational health and safety.
Kaiser's Mead Works is an aluminum smelter, which uses electricity to reduce aluminum from alumina
ore. The prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is one of the priorities of the joint
safety and health process at that facility. The Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention
(SHARP) program of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has assisted their
efforts by conducting a epidemiological field investigation, providing training in principles of
industrial ergonomics, and developing tools for assessing ergonomics considerations within a PD

The participatory design effort at Kaiser's Mead Works is occurring at two levels: one, a joint
labor/management ergonomics committee; and two, a participatory engineering design and review
process for new capital expenditures. The ergonomics committee consists of hourly and salaried
workers. Salaried personnel include engineers and supervisors. Hourly personnel include people from
maintenance and operators from three departments. The purpose of the ergonomics committee is to
identify and eliminate work place factors that pose a risk of musculoskeletal injury. The ergonomics
committee began by focusing on problems that had been identified in the SHARP study such as shoulder
and wrist tendonitis, low back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The committee began working on small
projects like re-designing tools to reduce the physical effort and biomechanical stress associated with
their use.

One of the problematic tools is a manual jack that is used to adjust the height of 400-pound carbon
blocks. The committee decided to lengthen the arm of the jack to make it easier to use. It brought the end
users of the jack together with the maintenance and engineering staff to jointly redesign the tool. An
additional design flaw of the jack was discovered and fixed, but only after some significant tension
between several team members. One of the shop floor employees who had direct experience working
with the tool said that the jacks often broke, and that the failures had caused some injuries. The
mechanical engineer on the committee did not believe this, because his analytical analysis indicated that
there was a sufficient safety factor in the jack dimensions. After one of the shop floor employees
brought in a broken jack from the work area, the team was able to determine that the cause was
deteriorated electrical insulation in part of the jack. The resulting electrical short produced cyclic
heating and cooling, and the mechanical failure occurred after the resulting weakening of the metal. The
result was a change in the jack design and an increased emphasis on jack maintenance. The jack re-
design project illustrates the effectiveness of bringing shop floor personnel who know the intimate
details of how tools are really used with the people who design and make them. Moreover, the committee
had a shared mission of changing the work environment to reduce musculoskeletal injuries, which made
it easier to work through conflict.

Both labor and management realized the necessity of ensuring that new equipment be designed to avoid
safety and health hazards, because each capital expenditure represents an opportunity to affect the
working environment for decades to come. As a result, a joint labor/management engineering design and
review process is being developed. Each project has a project execution team. Each team has
representatives from (at least) management of the affected department, hourly department employees,
hourly maintenance personnel, safety staff, and engineering staff. Traditionally, the work now done by
the project execution team had been the territory of management. The new process will involve the end
users of the equipment, becauseÑas in the jack exampleÑthey have the intimate knowledge of safety
issues (ergonomics, electrical hazards, confined spaces, etc.) on the shop floor. To provide insight into
the size of the projects using this process, a recent twelve million dollar project to introduce a crane
mounted jackhammer was initiated. Thus, employees are participating in the design of major capital
expenditure projects.

The experience at Kaiser's Mead Works demonstrates that labor participation in technological decisions
can happen, especially when focused on safety and health issues. Because of management and labor's
commitment to improving work place safety at this facility, there is a strong set of shared values that
can defuse contentious debates. It also must be emphasized that PD is taking place because of strong
management and union leadership.


Occupational safety and health is a wonderful arena for PD activities in Washington state, because the
regulatory environment supports such activities. At the national level, the Democratic OSHA reform
bill in Congress contains language requiring labor/management safety committees like those in
Washington state. Moreover, the Clinton administration has also placed a high priority on OSHA
promulgating an ergonomics standard. If these regulatory actions come to pass, the entire United States
could have a clearer regulatory framework in which to pursue PD in the realm of occupational health
and safety.

Participatory Curriculum Development With and For Workers
by Cydney Pullman
Labor Institute, New York

The Labor Institute develops training materialsÑincluding curriculum workbooks and videotapesÑfor
working people in unions and community groups throughout the United States. Their participatory
curriculum development techniques are described in this article, and are illustrated with two case
study examples. For more information, contact the Labor Institute, 853 Broadway, Room 2014, New
York NY 10003 US, 212-674-3322 (voice), 212-353-1203 (fax).


For the past 19 years, the Labor Institute, a non-profit New York City-based research and education
organization, has developed programs and materials for working adults on such work-related issues as
health and safety, plant closings, automation impacts, toxic waste dangers, and economic policy. Its
work has included:

¥ Conducting workshops for over 30,000 participants

¥ Producing materials and programs which are used by over 3000 labor educators and health and safety
advocates, and which have reached over 600,000 people

¥ Producing 25 slide/videotape shows and call-in radio programs, which have reached an audience of
over one million people

The heart of the Institute's educational effort is a unique training methodology called the Small Group
Activity Method, which combines audio-visual materials with a non-lecture training process. The
method allows the curricula to be easily transferred to a wide variety of worker trainersÑtrom rank
and file activists to industrial hygienists. The small group method is particularly effective because it
does not depend on experts to train workers. This is because the scientific and other technical
information is embedded in the factsheets used in the training workbook. Worker-trainers and others
are trained in the method and may then facilitate training workshops on their own.

The Institute works closely with a group of worker advocates called worker consultants. These
individuals, representing workers in unions concerned about a particular issue, attend curriculum
development meetings in which the Institute staff and the consultants review our work, test materials
among their constituents, and revise our materials to ensure that our final training programs and
materials are effective and relevant to the workers.

Participants are put to work solving real-life problems, building upon their own skills and
experiences. Instead of learning by listening, we learn by doing.

Most recently, this process was used to develop the following training materials and programs:

¥ Sexual Harassment at Work: A Training Workbook for Working People (1994)

¥ Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) in the Workplace (1993)

¥ Hazards of the Modern Office: Indoor Air Quality (1992)

¥ Fire Hazards in the Modern Office (1992)

¥ Electromagnetic Fields in the Modern Office (1992)

We are currently producing a training program on Tuberculosis in the Workplace.


The Small Group Activity Method is a participatory, non-lecture training method that is worker-
oriented. 'Fine Labor Institute uses this teaching approach to train workers to be trainers themselves,
and has shared this method with over 200 different unions and community-based organizations in the
United States and Canada.

The Small Group Activity Method puts the learner in the center of the training workshop. Participants
are put to work solving real-life problems, building upon their own skills and experiences. Instead of
learning by listening, we learn by doing.

The method uses Activities to teach. An activity can take from 30 minutes to an hour. Each activity has a
common basic structure: Small Group Tasks, Report-Back, and Summary.

1. Small Group Tasks. The workshop always operates with people working in groups, preferably at
tables. Each activity has a task, or set of tasks, for the group to work on. The idea is to work together
using each others' experiences to tackle problems and make judgments on key issues. Part of the task
involves looking at factsheets and reading short handouts to develop an opinion on an issue.

2. Report-Back. For each task, the group selects a reporter whose Job it is to take notes on the small
group discussion and report back to the workshop as a whole. The trainer records these reports on large
pads of paper in front of the workshop, so that all may refer to them. After the Report-Back, the
workshop is thrown open to general discussion about the problem/issue at hand.

3. Summary. Before the discussion drifts too far and wide, the trainer needs to bring it all together
during the Summary. Here, the trainer highlights the key points (there are summaries in all the
training workbooks), and brings up problems and points that might have been overlooked in the
Report- Back.


The Coalition of Labor Union Women and several other groups approached the Institute to develop a
training program on the prevention of sexual harassment at work. Twenty women from different unions
and work organizations were invited to join our curriculum development workshop as worker
consultants. Our first meeting consisted of finding out what kinds of materials and issues these women
(most of whom had some direct or indirect experience with sexual harassment at work) felt were
missing from the resources already available. At the same time, Institute staff surveyed the existing
literature and consulted several experts on the issue of sexual harassment.

Out of these initial discussions, a series of activities and accompanying factsheets was developed for the
introductory section of the program on the following topics:

¥ Sharing Our Experiences (an open discussion)

¥ Defining Sexual Harassment (reviewing sexual harassment scenarios and legal/commonsense

¥ The Extent of the Problem (answering a series of questions based on data in charts and graphs)

Prior to the workshop, our worker consultants tested some of the activities with their co-workers,
suggesting revisions and additions. Further changes were made to the curriculum materials when the
activities were reviewed during the workshop.

Among the issues that the consultants felt needed to be dealt with in the curriculum (that had
previously been ignored in other curricula) were race and sexual harassment, and sexual orientation
and sexual harassment. They wanted to address these "sensitive" topics head on. Additionally, union
members were particularly concerned about what to do about co-worker (i.e., fellow union member)

Each of the twelve activities developed for the training workbook were tested with workers and revised
jointly by Institute staff and worker consultants. The final section of the book includes topics on
communication skills, tools for tackling sexual harassment, and examples of success stories obtained by
participants and illustrated by the Institute's cartoonist. The book has just been printed, and will be
used in training programs throughout the United States by unions and worker groups.


Like the process described above, groups of health and safety advocates were contacted about
participating in the development of a curriculum on Tuberculosis in the Workplace. Tuberculosis is on
the rise particularly among workers in high-risk workplaces, such as health care settings,
correctional institutions, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, and drug treatment centers.
Workers in close (repeated and prolonged) contact with people in high-risk groups, or who are exposed
to high-risk procedures, are at increased risk of getting TB.

Many unions are already conducting training for their workers on TB prevention and control. And many
are interested in materials that are able to reach a broader audienceÑbeyond doctors and nurses who
are already trainedÑwith basic facts and figures about TB and information about TB recognition,
treatment, and prevention protocols. Thus, the Institute has currently gathered over twenty health and
safety advocates from different workplaces where TB is a potential threat.

As with the sexual harassment curriculum development, these worker consultants worked closely with
Institute staff to develop a list of issues and concerns regarding TB in the workplace which were not
already being addressed. For example, a major issue for health care workers is that, even though
guidelines recommend the use of a special air filter respiratory mask, such masks are unavailable to
the majority of workers exposed to TB patients. Additionally, workers want to know how to identify
emergency room patients who might have active TB disease and to be able to isolate them appropriately.

Another issue for participants was that they were concerned about workers "blaming the victims" of
TB. They wanted us to develop an activity that made clear the socio-economic reasons for the re-
emergency of TBÑthat is was not due just to the increase in drug use and HIV in society. Many other
issues were discussed at the first curriculum development meeting, which enabled the Institute staff to
prepare materials and activities appropriate to the curriculum development group's needs.

Most of the workshop participants are testing the first packet of activities with their co-workers,
including one activity that asks small groups to examine a series of statements about "What is TB and
Who Gets It?" Small groups discuss such statements as "Doctors and nurses are the primary workers
threatened by TB in the workplace" or "People who live in non-urban areas are not likely to contract
TB." Workers are asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, and why? They refer to
factsheets in the packet which provide data or anecdotes that permit the group to conduct an informed
discussion. The factsheets are developed by the Institute staff in conjunction with experts in
occupational health, and doctors knowledgeable about tuberculosis in the workplace.


The combination of both formal experts and workplace experts (the worker consultants) working with
the Labor Institute, facilitates the creation, testing, and finally production of materials for workers
that have the possibility of being effective as tools for social change. The final curricula incorporate
hard facts, debates, and solutions to problems in a format that does not require expert teachers, but
rather a facilitator. to work through the materials with participants. We believe that this
participatory curriculum development approach is both efficientÑnot requiring experts to accompany
training program presentationsÑand democraticÑ including the workers themselves in the
conceptualization and production stages of the curricula. D

Vicki O'Day, SRI International, Center for Technology in Learning, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park,
CA 94025, 415-859-3934, 415-859-2861 (FAX),

Women's Safety Audit GuideÑAn Action Plan and a Grass Roots Community Development Tool

by Elsie Nisonen
METRAC, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

"Reaction and interest in the Campus Safety Audit guide and video is very' positive. Queen's University
is using them extensively. The video was shown in Residences during Orientation and staff and faculty
have been using both guide and video as part of departmental meetings, in classes, and individually. An
invaluable education!

ÑKathy Beers, Office of the Vice-Principle of Operations, Queen's University.

Since its inception in 1984, the Metro Action Committee on Public Violence against Women and
Children (METRAC) has worked to enhance the safety of women and children. Our work includes
violence prevention, law reform education, legal advocacy, and urban safety. METRAC carries out
extensive consultations with governmentÑlocally, provincially, and nationally. Community groups,
violence survivors, educational institutions, the legal and medical professions, the police, planners,
and the media participate in our work, which is directed at developing initiatives, policies, and
practices to enhance the safety of women and children.

Violence is a reality in women's lives. In Canada, 39% of adult women are sexually assaulted at some
point in their lifetime, either by a stranger or by someone known [1]. Both the reality and the fear of
violence have kept women from participating fully in community life. 56% of Canadian women are
afraid to walk in their own neighbourhood after dark. Only 18% of men feel this way [2].

Urban design and planning do not cause violence against women, but they do create an environment that
otters greater or lesser opportunities for assault. Making public spaces safer is one way to reduce the
opportunity for sexual and other assaults. METRAC has designed a way of using women's experience to
assess personal safety and security concerns in specific urban areas through a Women's Safety Audit.

METRAC invented and pioneered the personal safety audit process in Canada, and has used the Women's
Safety Audit method successfully with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), with city planners to
audit parks and neighbourhoods, and with municipalities in towns and cities throughout Canada. The
method has been adapted for planners and architects to audit blueprints during the pre-building stage of
development. Students, faculty and staff on college and university campuses have used audits
extensively to assess personal safety problems and features of campus facilities.

The Women's Safety Audit is a method of evaluating a physical environment in teens of women's
personal safety concerns. The audit process involves a group of women looking at different spaces,
discussing, and recording their experience and impressions of an area, usually after dark. General
impressions of lighting, sightlines, potential assault locations, visual isolation, sound isolation,
potential escape routes, nearby land uses, signage, and movement predictors are among the items

The audit process has become a useful community development tool. The users of the space are crucial to
the audit process, especially people who are most vulnerable to attack or harassment: women, persons
with disabilities, ethno-racial minorities, children, etc. It is those who are most vulnerable who are
the experts, and women are the largest vulnerable group. That's why the focus of the safety audit is
women's safety, but an audit can also address the personal safety concerns of other groups. A place
where women feel safe is a safer place for children, for people who are mentally challenged. and for
older people. If places are safer for women, they are safer for everyone.


¥ METRAC Women's Safety Audit Guide

¥ METRAC Women's Campus Safety Audit Guide

¥ Discussion Paper: Developing A Sate Urban Environment for Women

¥ Moving Forward: Making Transit Safer for Women

¥ Women's Campus Safety Resource Package (includes publications and a 27-minute video, Safer for
Women ... Safer for Everyone)

For more information or to order resources:

Metro Action Committee on Public Violence against Women and Children (METRAC), 158 Spadina Road,
Toronto Ontario MSR 2T8 Canada, 416-392-3135 (voice), 416-392-3136 (fax)


1. Violence Against Women Survey, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Ottawa, 1993.

2. Canadian Urban Victimization Survey, Research and Statistics Group. Programming Branch-
Solicitor-General of Canada. Bulletin 1: Victims of Crime, 1983, p. 6.

VOLUME 12, NO. 3 The CPSR Newsletter SUMMER 1994

Community Involvement in Education

Vicki O'Day
CPSR/Palo Alto

The school system in the United States is currently the focus of extensive reform efforts covering all
aspects of the system, such as teaching methods, curriculum, assessment of student work, teacher
development, and school governance. (See [1, 2] for overviews of the reform movement.) One of the
many elements undergoing change is parent involvement in schools. As a computer scientist who has for
the past six months worked with education researchers, I have begun to notice parallels between the
role of parents and other community members in schools and the role of end users in participatory
design efforts.

In this article, I'll summarize two different paths to community involvement in schools and comment on
the lessons from schools' experiences that we might take and adapt to the design process. One path to
community involvement is the substitution of school-based decision-making for centralized, top-down
authority. The other path is the establishment of integrated community services attached to schools.


School reform, including decentralization, has been going on for over twenty years in the U.S. and has
gained momentum during the past five to ten years. In 1991, nine states had some form of mandatory
shared decision-making program and others encouraged it. The central idea of school-based decision-
making is that those closest to the action should have both the authority to make decisions and
responsibility for the outcomes of their decisions.

The state of Kentucky, for example, had to redesign its entire school system from scratch after its
Supreme Court declared the system unconstitutional since it did not give all students access to a decent
education. Kentucky's program is "high-stakes": if a school doesn't meet reform targets, it will be
declared a "school in crisis" and its staff will be replaced. Parent involvement is part of the mandate
for change: research has shown that the active participation of parents in school has a positive impact
on student learning. (See 13 for an example of this research.) By 1996, each school must be run by a
council composed of three elected teachers, two elected parents, and the principal. By 1992, about 40%
of the schools had set up councils [4].

As in some participatory design teams, the degree to which the outsiders (parents in this case,
sometimes teachers as well) are real partners has been found in Kentucky to depend on the group
leader's (principal's) style. In some cases, the principal creates side committees that make decisions
outside the council structure. In other cases, the council isn't permitted to make decisions about certain
critical issues, such as hiring. When teams in Kentucky and other states do share full decision-making
authority, parents and teachers both feel that better decisions are made than if the traditional
bureaucracy were in place. Innovative and sometimes surprising changes happen, such as hiring ten
aides instead of an assistant principal, or setting up Saturday tutoring sessions including high school
equivalency tutoring for parents, or choosing to have the kids wear uniforms to cut down on designer
clothing costs.

The evaluator of Kentucky's school-based management program outlines four challenges for school-
based decision-making [4]:

¥ Turning parents, teachers, and administrators into partners instead of adversaries; changing power
relationships and sharing goals.

¥ Finding a focus for decision-making; establishing priorities.

¥ Arranging opportunities for learning teamwork skills. decision-making, conflict resolution, etc.

¥ Balancing the tension between specifications and flexibility, top-down vs. bottom-up pressures.

These challenges could be transferred almost intact to the domain of computer system design. Members
of participatory design teams also need to become partners with common goals. They have to learn new
ways of working together, bringing in people's different perspectives yet still keeping a common focus
in design discussions.

Some of the approaches taken in schools to deal with these issues are:

¥ The council is held accountable for actual student learning outcomes. not just for a reasonable
decision-making process.

¥ The integrity of the system is maintained even if that means transferring principals who can't handle
shared decision-making.

¥ Workshops are given to teachers. administrators, and parents to explain their responsibilities and
teach practical operating skills. (However, a weakness has been that workshops don't take into account
the different perspectives of the participants, and they tend to be concentrated at the beginning rather
than an ongoing process.)

¥ Regular public meetings are held and given wide news coverage, to bring the larger community into
the picture.

Some lessons here for participatory design teams are to include the larger user community rather than
relying only on "user representatives," to explicitly teach group work skills tailored to groups with
mixed backgrounds and expertise, and to commit to carrying through a participatory design process
even when the path is rocky and resistance is high.

One of Kentucky's evaluators points out that it is hard for teachers who are themselves not sure how to
handle new practices to welcome parent involvement and input; some tolerance is needed for a gradual
pace of' charge. Even with state-mandated parent involvement in school decision-making, it is more
common to find parents as volunteers (still in a client or support role) than as partners in the
educational process.

One strong rationale for local control is increased professionalism for teachers, treating teachers as
skilled, knowledgeable people rather than cogs in a school-factory model [ 1]. Kenneth Strike points
out an interesting tension between teacher professionalism and democratic control as the basic
rationale for shared decision-making [5]. Professionalism can carry the connotation of teachers as
members of a guild who control all the standards and activities of their profession. (This has its
parallels in the elite cadre of software developers.) If increased professionalism were the only
motivating factor for sharing of decisions, parents and children would still be clients of the system
instead of team members. Democratic control, which Strike advocates, implies a model of equal
authority (respect, reciprocity) for all participants. To accomplish this, he suggests these guidelines,
which I have annotated with parallels in the system design domain:

¥ Work in teams whose size permits face-to-face decision-making.

¥ Legitimize and provide parent [user] participation in decision-making.

¥ Diversify teams to the extent necessary to create communities with shared values.

¥ Set up school boards to be the "voice of the public," rather than policy-setters. (In system design.
there isn't a group of people exactly parallel to school boards. The closest may be high-level

One strong rationale for local control is increased professionalism for teachers, treating teachers as
skilled, knowledgeable people rather than cogs in a school factory model.

¥ Teachers and administrators (professional system designers) should be "first among equals." They
have experience and expertise. but they still have the obligation to persuade others rather than assert


Next I'll briefly summarize a second path to community involvement in education: integrated school-
based services. When families have problems which lead them to use social services, they often have to
deal with several different agencies in an uncoordinated fashion. The idea behind integrated services is
to establish collaborations among different social service organizations and community members and to
make services available under an umbrella program at or near a school. Schools are a natural focal
point, since they are convenient and accessible. An important goal of these programs is to ensure that
children are mentally and physically able to take part in learning activities: problems children have at
school are often related to family issues and are better dealt with at that level.

One pilot program currently in progress is Healthy Start in California, which has funded sixty-five
different integrated services projects, each of which has a different operating model and set of local
service providers. All offer some form of "one-stop shopping," and all rely on community involvement
and guidance. As is the case inside schools, parents are sometimes adjunct to these efforts, not part of
the decision-making process, in spite of the fact that collaboration with parents is a stated goal of the
program [6]. However, some centers have found a way of bringing parents and children fully into the
process. One example is the Vaughan Family Center in Los Angeles, which is attached to the Vaughan
Street School. Since the start of the center, the school itself has withdrawn from district control to
become a "charter school," allowing it to function independently yet remain a public school. The
Vaughan Family Center and the school are anchored in the community, with goals for children, families,
and neighborhood. The center identified local needs that included health care, youth programs,
childcare, parent training, job placement, housing, legal counseling, drug counseling, and other social
services. Its calendar is full, with services and events ranging from family counseling and consumer
rights advocacy to arts and crafts classes and parents' singing practice; it runs a food and clothes closet
and hires parents as advocates on the staff. The center is located on the school site and is closely
identified with the school community. After the recent earthquake in the Los Angeles area, families
camped on the school grounds rather than use Red Cross or FEMA shelters.

To promote parent involvement, the principal initially identified a few parents to organize and bring in
others. During the needs assessment phase of the project, organizers literally went door to door and
asked people what they wanted. A program commission composed half of parents and half of service
providers meets regularly to make decisions. A Service Exchange Bank tracks services (such as
childcare, translation, tutoring, and maintenance) donated by parents in exchange for services
obtained. For all of this to work, the external service providers in the coalition had to be discouraged
from treating parents without strong educational backgrounds as lower-status participants.

There are again lessons for participatory design teams. Here, parents have a sense of project ownership
and a stake in decision-making, giving the project high energy and high impact. An honest needs
assessment was done, drawing on constituents beyond those parents who were most directly involved in
the project. The partners in the collaboration are treated with equal respect, though this took some


I'll end with a suggestion: this is a very interesting time to be involved in the education community. We
may be able to learn something about participatory design from the hard work that parents, children,
teachers, administrators, policy-makers, and researchers are doing to change the way schools are run.
In return, schools can certainly use any resources the technical community has to offer, from
mentoring of students to computer hand-me-downs. As schools respond to local community needs, they
depend on local community support.


[ I ] Edward B. Fiske, Smart Schools, Smart Kids: Why Do Some Schools Work? Simon & Schuster,

[2] Theodore R. Sizer, Horace's School. Redesigning the American High School. Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1992.

[3] Concha Delgado-Gaitan, Literacy for Empowerment. The Role of Parents in Children's Education.
The Falmer Press, 1990.

[4] Primary School; School-Based Decision-Making; Family Resource/Youth Services Centers: First
Year Reports to the Prichard Committee. The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Lexington,
Kentucky, July 1992.

[5] Kenneth A. Strike. Professionalism, Democracy, and Discursive Communities. Normative
Reflections on Restructuring. American Educational Research Journal 30(2), Summer 1993.

[6] Debra M. Shaver and Lynn Newman, The Role of Parents in School-Linked Services Programs.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 1994, New

Participatory Design Conference October 27-28, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

In the last decade, participatory approaches to design have gained adherents around the world. These
approaches have at their core the involvement of users in the design and development of new
technologies and work practices. CPSR's Third Conference on Participatory Design will be attended by
an international community of researchers and practitioners. We encourage those who are using
participatory approaches and those who may be interested in trying these approaches to attend.


Opening Keynote by Morten Kyng, Aarhus University, Denmark

Paper Session 1: Scandinavian Participatory Design: From trade unions to organizations. Papers topics:
1) User participation - A strategy for work life democracy; 2) Creating conditions for participation -
conflicts and resources in systems design; 3) Participatory analysis of flexibility.

Panel Session 1. Does PD have a role in software package development?

Paper Session 2. Power relations: structures and dynamics. Paper topics: 1) Systems as
intermediaries - Political frameworks of design and participation; 2) Organizational and Technical
Effects from Designing with an Intervention and Ethnographically Inspired Approach; 3) Dilemmas in
Cooperative Design.

Panel Session 2: PD Education and curricula.

Paper Session 3: Designers meeting users: conversations and representations. Papers on: 1) The
dynamics of participatory information system design; 2) Representations of Work: Bringing Designers
and Users Together; 3) Reflections on Work-Oriented Design.

Panel Session 3. PD in complex organizations

Evening Keynote: Bjorg Aase Sorensen, Oslo Work Research Institute

Artifacts Session. Prototypes, products, and representations of work practices used with clients or
resulting from PD processes.

Workshops. 1) A Work Mapping Technique 2) A framework for participatory work system design. 3)
Promoting User Involvement through Training and Education: An Examination of Practice in Norway and
the United States. 4) Velcro-modeling and Projective Expressions: Participatory Design Methods for
Product Development. 5) The role of representations in distributed design; the social and technical
organization of design practices. 6) Meeting of the Minds: The Challenge of Interdisciplinary and inter-
occupational communication. 7) The Use of Video-based Interaction Analysis in The Workplace.

Paper Session 4: Lessons from the field: Three case studies. Papers on: 1) HIV and AIDS awareness and
education poster project; a study in participatory graphic design; 2) Enabling school teachers to
participate in the design of educational software; 3) Specific Cooperative Analysis and Design in general
hypermedia development.

Panel Session 4: The Limits of PD? Contingent Jobs, Contingent Pay.

Closing Discussion. PD: Politics and Prospects.


Early Registration Fees (before 9123194) CPSR Member $120.00 Non-member $ 170.00 Low
Income $60.00 Late Registration (on or after 9124194) CPSR Member $ 170.00 Non-member
$220.00 Low-income $75.00

For more information, contact: c/o Information Foundation, 46 Oakwood Dr., Chapel Hill, NC, 27514
email:, tel: 919-942-9773 Conference information is also available via the World
Wide Web at or via anonymous ftp at in the
/cpsr/conferences/pdc94 directory.

Chapter Contacts


Jim Grant
806 Martin Luther King Drive
Abbeville, LA 70510
318-231 -5226 / AUSTIN

We are looking for volunteers. If you are interested, please contact the office at 415-322-3778 or


Dave Kadelcek
P.O. Box 28562
Oakland, CA 94604
510-272-7042 /


Tom Thornton
2 Newland Road
Arlington, MA 02174
617-621 -0060 /


Don Goldhamer
528 S. Humphrey
Oak Park, Il 60304


David Black
3121 Seventh Street
Boulder, CO 80304
303-673-3554 /


Rodney Hoffman
P.O. Box 66039
Los Angeles, CA 90066
213-222-6618 /


Judith Wester
CPSR, Loyola University City College, Box 14 6363
St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118


Sam Bates
1406 Drake Street # I
Madison, WI 53711
608-262-2542 /


Kent Gordon
46 High Bluff Road Cape
Elizabeth, ME 04107
207-799- 8236


Dave Rasmussen
2015 E Kenwood Boulevard
Milwaukee, WI 53211-3310
414- 229-5133 /


Roger Rydberg
3225 Wellington Lane
Plymouth, MN 55441


Larry Wright
1Brook Hill
Road Hamden, CT 06514
203-248 -7664


David Friedlander
1781 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10034


Lucy Suchman
Xerox PARC-3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94340


Dale Larsen
828 Ormond Ave.
Drexel Hill, PA 19026-2604
610-853-4406 /


Susan Finger
Civil Engineering, CMU
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412- 268-8828 /


Steve Biederman
8086 S.W. 66th Avenue
Portland, OR 97223


Paul Kube
3245 Dale
San Diego, CA 92104
619-534-4973 /


Alan Schlenger
419 Rigg Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
408-459-4641 /


Doug Schuler
2202 N. 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98103


Larry Hunter
2921 Terrace Drive
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
301 -496-9300

DIAC '94: Developing An Equitable and Open Information Infrastructure

by Coralee Whitcomb
DIAC Conference Chair, CPSR / Boston

At some point in any project one hopes that there will be an especially meaningful moment that wraps
up the essence of what you've tried to do. In the organizing of this year's Directions and Implications of
Advanced Computing (DIAC), my moment came just days before the conference when I received a post

Dear Sirs. Let me express that I approve the very idea of your forthcoming 2-day forum. I can neither
enter the CPSR nor be present at any meetings (due to poor financing in my country). But I'm happy
that rather a number of professionals are gathering to discuss the problem in full. I lecture on the
Psychology of Information Technologies usage and I am to show my students both the disasters and
benefits of new technologies ad vent. Wish you full success,

Faithfully, Alexander Voiskounsky, Moscow University

We had received inquiries from all over the world, but somehow this one drove home the sheer power
this new form of communication holds. This event, much of it planned and put into place from my living
room, in pajamas at 2 in the morning, had reached beyond the old iron curtain to a compatriot in

This was the fifth DIAC . Doug Schuler of Seattle, and our new board chairman, is the "father" of DIAC.
He both created the event and has served as the main organizer at each one. Over the years, DIAC has
developed an extremely respectable reputation throughout the professional and academic communities.
A funding base has been developed, and this year we received over $3000 in unsolicited contributions
from Apple Libraries and the Morino Foundation. An additional $10,000 was granted by The John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through the efforts of the Washington Office.

We organized this year's DIAC with specific objectives in mind. We wanted to produce a high visibility
conference that would solidify the identity CPSR is developing within the NII arena. We also wanted to
be sure that our conference was as inclusive as our NII principles claim, so we attempted major
outreach to non-technical communities that have much at stake in the final shape of our information
infrastructure. To that end we wanted to produce a conference that was both instructive and grounded in
the public interest point of view.

April 23 dawned sunny and warm. In fact, that weekend was the nicest the Northeast had had. The
blossoms were out in full forceÑit was a sign of things to come.

Saturday's program opened with Beverly Hunter of Bolt, Beranek, and Newmann giving one of the best
overviews of the NII that I've ever heard. It clearly described both the mechanical and philosophical
issues involved in the design of the NII. She was followed by a panel on policy that included Patrice
McDermott, a policy analyst of OMB Watch, Stan Kugel, General Manager of Pilgrim Telephone, and
Jamie Love, Director of the Taxpayers Assets Project.

Herbert Schiller followed with a critical and extremely entertaining viewpoint on all the hype that
we're dealing with. There were many comments afterward using the word "refreshing". After lunch we
heard about the changing nature and role of citizenship from Benjamin Barber, who was followed by a
panel on the media and its role in providing the content of the future. The panelists included Lauren-
Glen Davitian of Deep Dish TV, Walther Bender, Director of Information Technology at the MIT Media
Lab, and Jeff Chester, co-director of the Center for Media Education. The last panel of the day focussed
on the role of grassroot efforts at bringing the NII into local reality. This panel consisted of Tom
Grundner of the National Public Telecomputing Network and founder of the Free-Net Movement, Antonia
Stone, founder of Playing to Win, and Joyce Freeling, founder of the Legacy Project.

As is the typical organizer's plight, I was not able to see much of the program. The little I did see was
well presented with new twists and turns to the issues and approaches we have come to expect in this
area. Fortunately, we have produced a two-hour video of the highlights from that day.

The second day consisted of a panel of representatives from the educational, disabled, and labor
movements discussing the realities of NII in their respective worlds. In addition to the panel, there
were 32 workshops presented throughout the day. They were organized into 8 streams; nonprofits,
access/outreach, policy, cyberspace, rhetoric and metaphor, culture, free speech, and constituencies.
Again, the reports coming from the workshops were raves. There were fascinating topics and
presenters including Rachelle Hollander of the NSF, Anne Levinson Penway of the American Library
Association, and Thomas Kalil of the White House Economic Council. The only drawback to this
cornucopia of choice was that no one could see everything. Again, we did our best to record as much as
possible and we now have a number of the workshops available on video.

This year's DIAC attracted over 300 people on a beautiful spring weekend. We produced many
educational materials that will continue to serve CPSR's program goals. And we were able, I believe, to
fulfill our mission of raising the level of interest and understanding of NII issues to a broader public
than is usually involved. I know that if Alexander Voiskounsky had been able to make it, he would have
been pleased. Hopefully, he'll find the conference materials useful.


There was a lot more to DIAC than two days filled with excellent program on the National Information
Infrastructure. At the outset of the planning process, we identified a number of objectives for this
project to serve. These were: I ) To create relationships with local, non-technical constituencies that
will be affected by the NII: K-12 education, libraries, community media, local government, health and
human services, labor, and community organizations, 2) To develop an awareness in the local media and
universities of CPSR's expertise and involvement in the NII issues, and 3) To develop a solid set of
educational materials that can be shared by all chapters and distributed nationally to further educate
the American public about the techno/socio implications of the NII.

I believe we accomplished all three goals. We called and wrote every professional association we could
find in the groups listed above. We invited them to be endorsers, gave them tree passes to attend,
attended meetings, and created friendships. Through these efforts the Boston chapter now has
invitations to speak at several of their conferences and to collaborate on various statewide projects, and
has become a non-intimidating colleague in the pursuit of greater technological equity.

The local press was keenly aware of the conference. Most of the attending reporters requested press
passes before the press release was sent out. A reporter from the Boston Herald was so inspired by a
follow-up telephone call that he wrote a piece on DIAC minutes before deadline on Friday even though he
was not able to actually attend. We've had a number of guest speaker engagements at local universities
(including Harvard) as the year-end "big-picture" wrap-up.

CPSR has generally aspired to have expertise exist within chapters all over the country. Ideally, we
would have speakers at the ready to serve local needs and sources available for quotes to the local press.
The main drawback was our limited resources for developing the materials necessary to produce these
local "experts." Over the past year, through many efforts, these materials now exist. Anyone can come
up to speed on the current state of the NII discussion from CPSR materials alone. For the first time, we
now have a real foundation on which to build a nationwide speaker's bureau.

Organizing the DIAC conference gave the Boston Chapter the motivation and vehicle through which we
have now become a highly visible and effective player on the local level. I would urge other chapters to
consider organizing conferences similar to the DIAC conference as a means of developing a local identity
and vital role in serving the CPSR agenda. Most of the NII action takes place on the coasts. We received
literally hundreds of inquiries for materials from people desperate to know more but unable to make
the trip. Interest is high everywhere. The topic is hot and there simply cannot be too many
opportunities to join the discussion. Beside program material, we have developed a set of "how to"
materials for organizing events. The Boston experience shows that CPSR is the perfect organization to
transport the NII decision making process beyond the beltway to the America it will serve.


Developing and Equitable and Open Information Infrastructure

CPSR's Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing (DIAC) biannual conferences are
explorations of the promises and threats stemming from computer technology. DIAC-94 was a two-day
symposium dedicated to public interest issues related to the National Information Infrastructure (NII),
the proposed next-generation "Information Superhighway." Academia, libraries, government agencies,
media, and telecommunications companies, as well as public interest groups and the general public, all
have a stake in the current development. Videotapes and proceedings from this conference are now


Conference proceedings are available from the CPSR National Office. They include the proposals for
over 30 workshops presented at the conference and abstracts from the invited speakers. Also included
are essays on Democratizing Technology by Richard Sclove and Universal Access: Making Sure That
Everyone Has a Chance by Steve Miller, the CPSR policy paper, Serving the Community: A Public-
Interest Vision of the National Information Infrastructure, and a set of CPSR-generated questions
submitted to Vice President Gore at the National Press Club Luncheon.

Proceedings are available for $25. To order, send a check made out to "CPSR" and send to: CPSR, P.O.
Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94302-0171. For more information call or write: 415-322-3778 or


For those that couldn't attend DIAC-94 and for those who want to continue attending, we've established
the "DIAC Virtual Conference," a listserv that we'll use to continue the discussion. Since there were
over 30 workshopsÑtoo many for anybody to attend, the convertors and and participants were
encouraged to work together towards some objectives and to record their findings. These findingsÑ
preliminary, final, or just plain guess-workÑwill be made available on the list. In this way, those that
couldn't participate can still join in.

To join the virtual conference, send mail to with the message: SUBSCRIBE DIAC
<firstname> <lastname>. To post to the list, send mail to

VIDEOS The following videos are available for $20 per tape ordered (the cost of reproduction and
distribution). All tapes are on standard VHS format. To order, send a check made out to "CPSR/Boston"
and the code and names of the videos you want to: CPSR/Boston, PO Box 962, Cambridge, MA 02142-

Watch, Herbert Schiller, University of California at San Diego, Benjamin Barber, Rutgers University,
Jeffrey Chester, Center for Media Education, Lauren-Glenn Davitian, Alliance for Community Media,
Tom Grundner, National Public Telecomputing Network This video is a 2-hour edited summary of the
invited speakers from the first day of the conference. For viewers a good overview of the conference,
this tape is recommended.

A1: CONSTITUENCY PLENARY: Bill Johnson, Massachusetts Corporation for Educational
Telecommunications, Elaine Bernard, Harvard Trade Union Program, Earl Hancock, MassCUE, Joseph
Lazzaro, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Michael Roberts, Freedom House. A cross-section of
successes and disappointments experienced by K- 12 educators, labor, disabled, and community

INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE: Rika Welsh, Susie Walsh, Abigail Norman, Susan Fleischmann,
Cambridge Community Television. Public access television began 20 years ago, the result of hard work
by activists. With the advent of emerging technologies, how do we ensure that those who do not have
access to traditional, mainstream media and technologies are provided a forum to express themselves,
their cultures, political and social beliefs, and to communicate and interact with others? How can
access television provide a model that would work for computer professionals to help ensure that the
communities that we now serve will have comparable access to the emerging communications

H2. PC's EMPOWER INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES: Joseph J. Lazzaro, Massachusetts Commission
For The Blind. For persons with disabilities, the on-line community represents an electronic bill of
rights and a new found freedom. The workshop focuses on how to adapt personal computers for
individuals with vision, hearing, and motor disabilities. Basic concepts of computer modifications that
are common across hardware platforms are highlighted.

The White House, John Mallery, Joshua Cohen, MIT. How can digital computer networks could be used to
improve the policymaking process in government? Kalil reviews opportunities for public input into
decisional processes. Mallery discusses several technologies that might be applied to public access.
Finally, Cohen comments and guidse the discussion, focusing on the need to ensure fair access to public
discussion and to avoid the imposition of new barriers to entry.

Miller. The growth of the community computing center movementÑlow-income neighborhood centers
which provide computer training, access and integration into community programsÑis one response to
buidling a democratic NII.

PROJECT (CWEIS): Marlene Archer, The Boston Computer Society. This workshop is an excellent
opportunity for the CWEIS Organizing Committee used this workshop to get help defining the Boston
community on-line service.

C2. MEASURING THE NII: Richard Civille, Ann Bishop Introduces the issues and techniques related to
collecting data on NII use and impacts. Participants also contributed to the development of appropriate
measures and methods for assessing the effectiveness and equitability of NII implementation and

Schiller, UCSD. The first session analyzes global and national policy challenges to equitable information
infrastructure development. The role of international institutions; intellectual property in a globally
networked environment; the role of community networks, and National Information Infrastructure
(NII) technology policies will be emphasized.

the second session, concrete examples are presented of prototypical NII services along with future
application areas. Working with the participants, McKnight identifies critical variables for NII public
policies in their global context.

introduction to the economic concepts of public goods, privatization and externalities in the context of
government information. The ultimate purpose of the workshop is to define one or more testable
hypothesis, recognition of policy option points, determination of potential policy impacts, identification
of prospective survey participants or other data sources, and enumeration of possible evaluation

D4. DEMOCRACY IN CYBERSPACE: Amy Bruckman, MIT Media Lab. How is cyberspace to be governed?
Commercial service providers require new members to agree to a set of "terms of service" which
establishes standards for appropriate conduct. But there are more democratic methods of governance

University of Waikato, New Zealand. Identifies the possible future consequences of applying a post-
modernist view to information technology practice as it relates to Nll. The focus of the workshop is to
consider how NII can contribute to or inhibit discourse.

E4. THE POLITICAL RHETORIC OF NII: Steve Fuller, University of Pittsburgh. Considers the rhetoric
used to knit together various constituencies that are needed to get behind the development of NII. And,
examines the extent to which these constituencies, the President, Congress, the military, big business,
universities, and "ordinary folks," are likely to benefit from it.

NEW PUBLIC SQUARE: Anne Levinson Penway, ALA, Paul Vermouth, MIT. Librarians have long
supported the principles of intellectual freedom in defending library users' rights to have access to
ideas and information from all points of view without restriction. How should these principles guide the
development of the national information infrastructure?

LIABILITIES IN THE POST-HACKER ERA: Santord Sherizen, Data Security Systems, Inc. Less attention
seems to have been paid to how to protect information from a growing population of new computer
criminals. In the Post-Hacker Era, these criminals include competitors, inside traders, governments,
journalists, and "crackers." The current Clipper controversy is only one of a number of information
security policy issues that will arise and need informed resolution.

Rachelle D. Hollander, National Science Foundation. The focus of this workshop is on developing
research proposals to the Ethics and Values Studies Program, National Science Foundation. EVS is
interested in supporting research on ethical and value issues associated with high performance
computing and the national information infrastructure. But what topics should have priority? And how
should the research be done?

Computing and the Community: CPSR's 1994 Annual Meeting

by Phil Agre
CPSR/San Diego

We are currently putting together the program for the 1994 CPSR Annual Meeting. which will be held
at the University of California, San Diego on Saturday and Sunday, October 8th and 9th. Final details of
the program are not ready as this issue of the CPSR Newsletter goes to press, but nonetheless let me
take a page to tell you about our goals for the meeting, and to solicit your help in organizing it.

Although the Clinton administration has been inconsistent about upholding the public interest in its
telecommunications policy proposals, its rhetoric of ''information highways" and "information haves
and have-nots" has helped to crystallize an emerging social movement around computing and
networking. In communities across the country, people are debating the nature of community and the
role of information access in a democracy. Literally thousands of local groups are exploring how
computer networks can help to nurture social networks, and their experiences are revealing the
complex and many-faceted nature of "access." Perhaps this exciting development is an opportunity for
CPSR to grow deeper roots in society by connecting socially responsible computer people into a broader

That, anyway. is the central premise of our planning for the Annual Meeting. We are organizing a
working meeting, in which as many of the sessions as possible are connected to the work that people in
one community, namely San Diego, are doing to realize the vision of democratic technology use. This
process starts with outreach. We are beginning to talk to people throughout the San Diego community
about the genuinely exciting activity that is taking place in libraries, schools, non-profit
organizations, labor unions, political action groups, local government, and so on. We are thinking about
ways to involve these folks in planning the meeting, and in the structure of the meeting itself. One idea,
would be to "pair up" each invited speaker with someone from the San Diego community who is working
on issues pertaining to that speaker's topic. Another idea would be to spend all of Sunday afternoon and
evening on workshops that use the situation in San Diego as a "case study" of practical issues such as
political action, community networking, organizing information for public access, and so forth. Our
thinking is still evolving, and we encourage you to write us with ideas.

Beyond the details of the Annual Meeting, it's worth thinking about CPSR's own future. CPSR has defined
itself as "a national public-interest alliance of information technology professionals and other people."
Those "other people" are a fascinating group. In the past, CPSR activists have put together remarkably
diverse coalitions on issues such as privacy, and CPSR meetings have brought in a remarkable range of
people from business to journalism to community activism. At the same time, computing is a
specialized activity and CPSR will probably never be an organization for the "masses." My own sense is
that CPSR has natural allies in a number of professions with strong public interest traditions whose
organization and working methods are likely to change with the changes in information technology. For
this Annual Meeting, for example, we are making a special effort to reach out to library people, and
people from the UCSD Libraries in tact constitute a majority of those helping to organize the meeting so

In general, we will be targeting much of our publicity to people in public-interest professions: library
people, educators, public health people, as government workers, as well as people such as BBS
operators who are already bringing accessible computing to large numbers of people. Another relevant
group, less formally constituted as a profession than the others, consists of disability activists who
have a particularly deep understanding of the nature of "access." These professional groups form
important bridges between socially responsible computer people and the broader community, and we
hope that our meeting can help to strengthen those bridges and deepen CPSR's roots in society.

Phil Agre

Department of Communication University of (California, San Diego La Jolla, CA 92093-0503

The following letter was endorsed by the CPSR Board of Directors. It was written by the Taxpayer
Assets Project (TAP), and will be sent to Steve Wolff, the Director of Networking and Communications
for NSF. The purpose of the letter is to express a number of user concerns about the future of Internet
pricing. NSF recently announced that it is awarding five key contracts to telephone companies to operate
four Internet Network Access Points (NAPs), and an NSF funded very high speed backbone (vBNS).
There have been a number of indications that the telephone companies operating the NAPs will seek
permission from NSF to price NAPs services according to some measure of Internet usage. The vBNS is
expected to act as a testbed for new Internet pricing and accounting schemes.

Steve Wolff Director, Division of Networking & Communications National Science Foundation 1800 G
Street Washington, DC 20550

Dear Steve:

It is our understanding that the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies are
developing a new architecture for the Internet that will utilize four new Network Access Points
(NAPs), which have been described as the new "cloverleaves" for the Internet. You have indicated that
NSF is awarding contracts for four NAPs, which will be operated by telephone companies (Pac Bell,
S.F.; Ameritech, Chicago; Sprint, NY; and MFS, Washington, DC). We further understand that NSF has
selected MCI to operate its new very high speed backbone (vBNS) facility.

There is broad public interest in the outcome of the negotiations between NSF and the companies that
will operate the NAPs and vBNS. We are writing to ask that NSF consider the following objectives in its
negotiations with these five firms:


We are concerned about the future pricing systems for Internet access and usage. Many users pay fixed
rates for Internet connections, often based upon the bandwidth of the connection, and do not pay for
network usage, such as the transfer of data using email, ftp, Gopher or Mosaic. It has been widely
reported on certain Internet discussion groups, such as com-priv, that the operators of the NAPs are
contemplating a system of usage based pricing.

We are very concerned about any movement toward usage based pricing on the Internet, and we are
particularly concerned about the future of the Internet Listserves, which allow broad democratic
discourse on a wide range of issues. We believe that the continued existence and enhancement of the
Internet discussion groups and distribution lists is so important that any pricing scheme for the NAPs
that would endanger or restrict their use should be rejected by the NSF.

It is important for NSF to recognize that the Internet is more than a network for scientific researchers
or commercial transactions. It represents the most important new effort to expand democracy into a
wide range of human endeavors. The open communication and the free flow of information have made
government and private organizations more accountable, and allowed citizens to organize and debate the
widest range of matters. Federal policy should be directed at expanding public access to the Internet,
and it should reject efforts to introduce pricing schemes for Internet usage that would mimic
commercial telephone networks or expensive private network services such as MCI mail.

To put this into perspective, NSF officials must consider how any pricing mechanisms will change the
economics of hosting Internet electronic mail discussion groups and distribution lists. Many of these
discussion groups and lists are very large, such as Humanist, GIS-L, CNI-Copyright, PACS-L, CPSR

Announce or Com-Priv. It is not unusual for a popular Internet discussion group to have several
thousand members, and send out more than 100,000 email messages per day. These discussion groups
and distribution lists are the backbones of democratic discourse on the Internet, and it is doubtful that
they would survive if metered pricing of electronic mail is introduced on the Internet.

Usage based pricing would also introduce a wide range of problems regarding the use of ftp, gopher and
mosaic servers, since it conceivable that the persons who provide "free" information on servers would
be asked to pay the costs of "sending" data to persons who request data. This would vastly increase the
costs of operating a server site, and would likely eliminate many sources of data now "published" for

We are also concerned about the types of accounting mechanisms which may be developed or deployed to
facilitate usage based pricing schemes., which raise a number of concerns about personal privacy. Few
Internet users are anxious to see a new system of "surveillance" that will allow the government or
private data vendors to monitor and track individual usage of Information obtained from Internet
listserves or fileserves.


We are also concerned about the potential for anti-competitive behavior by the firms that operate the
NAPs. Since 1991 there have been a number of criticisms of ANS pricing practices, and concerns about
issues such as price discrimination or preferential treatment are likely to become more important as
the firms operating the NAPs become competitors of firms that must connect to the NAPs. We are
particularly concerned about the announcements by PAC-Bell and Ameritech that they will enter the
retail market for Internet services, since both firms were selected by NSF to operate NAPs. It is
essential that the contracts signed by NSF include the strongest possible measures to insure that the
operators of the NAPs do not unfairly discriminate against unaffiliated companies.


As the Internet moves from the realm of the research community to a more vital part of the nation's
information infrastructure, the NSF must ensure that its decisions reflect the needs and values of a
much larger community.

1. The NSF contracts with the NAPs operators will include clauses that determine how the NAP services
will be priced. It is Important that NSF disclose and receive comment on all pricing proposals before
they become final. NSF should create an online discussion list to facilitate public dialog on the pricing
proposals, and NSF should identify its criteria for selecting a particular pricing mechanism,
addressing the issue of how the pricing system will impact the Internet's role in facilitating democratic

2. NSF should create a consumer advisory board which would include a broad cross section of consumer
interests, including independent network service providers (NSPs), publishers of Internet discussion
groups and distribution lists, academic networks, librarians, citizen groups and individual users. This
advisory board should review a number of policy questions related to the operation of the Internet,
including questions such as the NAP pricing, NAP operator disclosure of financial, technical and
operational data, systems of Internet accounting which are being tested on the vBNS, and other topics.

3. NSF should solicit public comment, though an online discussion group, of the types of safeguards
against anticompetitive behavior by the NAPs which should be addressed in the NSF/NAPs contracts, and
on issues such as NAPs pricing and Internet accounting systems.


TAP-INFO is an Internet Distribution List provided by the Taxpayer Assets Project (TAP). TAP was
founded by Ralph Nader to monitor the management of government property, including information
systems and data, government funded R&D, spectrum allocation and other government assets. TAP-INFO
reports on TAP activities relating to federal information policy. tap-info is archived at; and

Send subscription requests to tap-info to with the message: subscribe tap-
info your name.

Taxpayer Assets Project; P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036 202-387-8030 (voice), 2020-
234-5176 (fax); internet:


VOLUME 12, NO. 3 The CPSR Newsletter SUMMER 1994

The CPSR Newsletter is published quarterly by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, P.O.
Box 717, Palo Alto, CA 94302, voice: 415-322-3778, FAX: 415-322-4748, email:

Copyright 1994 by CPSR. Articles may be reproduced as long as the copyright notice is included. The
item should be attributer! to The CPSR Newsletter and contact information should be listed.

Guest Editor Michael J. Muller

Executive Editor, Layout & Design Nikki Draper

CPSR Board of Directors

Eric Roberts, President Doug Schuler, Chair Judi Clark, Treasurer Steve Dever, Secretary

Mary Connors Jim Davis Jim Grant Hans Klein David Liddle

Steven Miller Todd Newman Aki Namioka Terry Winograd Marsha Woodbury

CPSR National Office Staff Kathleen Kells, Managing Director Nikki Draper, Communications Director
Susan Evoy, Database Manager


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