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A Beautiful Day In The Virtual Neighborhood?

Readers Report


"Internet communities" (Special Report, May 5) credibly predicts the next step in the Internet's evolution: the building of communities. I agree that community building will have a great impact on the way consumers and merchants conduct electronic commerce. Indeed, the industry knows the prosperity of electronic commerce will be realized only when consumers' fears about privacy and security are alleviated.

Supporting this goal are organizations such as e.TRUST, a nonprofit program that alerts consumers to how their personal information will be used. Boston Consulting Group surveyed consumers and found that they do not feel safe about giving out personal information online. Interestingly, when we asked businesses what their main concerns were regarding electronic commerce, they emphatically pointed to low customer confidence. Community building is a great first step, but we must continue these efforts by supporting initiatives that look out for both consumer and business needs.

Roel Pieper


Tandem Computers Inc.

Cupertino, Calif.

Today, the real excitement and innovation is in networking real communities--the geographic space where most of us work, live, learn, shop, and vote.

Contrary to general belief, electronic networks strengthen local communities by providing information about what is going on in our towns and counties, by making job listings and candidate election statements more accessible, by facilitating E-mail between parents and teachers, and by creating a forum for discussion of development plans. Look at Blacksburg, Va.; Davis, Calif.; and our Smart Valley Inc. initiative in the Silicon Valley to name but a few examples. Networks are strengthening our communities of place.

Seth G. Fearey

Collaborative Economics Inc.

FoundingDirector, SmartValley Inc.

Palo Alto, Calif.Return to top


Paul F. Stifflemire Jr.'s letter (Readers Report, May 12) is a perfect example of what's wrong with compensation ("Executive Pay," Cover Story, Apr. 21).

To justify the excessive and obscene amounts paid to executives based on the equally excessive and obscene amounts paid to Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Tyson, or anyone else is ludicrous. Nobody warrants that kind of compensation.

Russell Taitz

Irvine, Calif.Return to top


Your glowing article on the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) ("Kentucky's class act," Social Issues, Apr. 7) was, in Mark Twain's phrase, "interesting if true, and interesting anyway." Unfortunately, your overall projection of cutting-edge progress is not true.

At a recent public panel discussion, Robert R. Sexton (director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, who was quoted in your article) was forced grudgingly to admit that illiteracy in Kentucky stands at about 40%. Compare this with the 2.2% rate reported in 1910 by the Education Dept. for U.S. children between 10 and 14.

Much has been made of the site-based management introduced by KERA at each school. These committees are toothless tigers. They are by law composed of the principal, three teachers, and two parents. The principal must please the state commissioner, the teachers must please the principal. What chance do two mere parents have? They could not introduce a rigorous phonics-based reading system, remove an offensive sex education course, or institute a national testing system--no matter how strongly they desired such changes.

This is not a class act but an expensive catastrophe.

Wasley S. Krogdahl

Lexington, Ky.Return to top

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