I enjoy reminders that people have been thinking about the consequences of computing technology for a long while:

"If we do it all wrong, then it could be an absolute disaster. It's the biggest aid to totalitarianism you could ever come across if you think about it, and that must be avoided at all costs. On the other hand it's the greatest boon to decentralization and people fulfilling themselves and that is the sort of way we've got to go. But it's up to us."


@cstanhope That passage struck me too when I saw it a couple of days ago.

I've searched to see if Cy Endfield had commented on that elsewhere but I can't find any trace. It seems incongruous in the BBC piece as a whole.

There's a number of others who've written cautions. Paul Baran's work at RAND in particular comes to mind. I've highlighted a few of his essays here, along with other authors:


@dredmorbius Are you sure that's Cy Endfield? The person I quoted at the end appears earlier in the segment without introduction, and then they do introduce Cy Endfield after that. It's a side view, so it's hard to tell, but he doesn't look like the same person. Cy Endfield looks a little older and he doesn't have that mole on his right cheek. The hair styles are very similar, but Endfield's looks a little longer in the front.

"That's Barrie Sherman - he was Research Director of a union called Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs. He was keen to promote the use of automation in order for Britain to stay competitive but also had concerns about how people's jobs would change to their advantage."

(according to YT comment)

@cstanhope @dredmorbius

@EdS Thank you! I've been trying to find a reference to who he is.

@EdS Having typed that out, I now realize you had the word "union" in your post. 😆

@EdS And there's a book:

Glimpses of heaven, visions of hell : virtual reality and its implications, by Barrie Sherman; & Phillip Judkins.

London : Coronet, 1993.

Summary: The authors ask what virtual reality is and the effects it may have on our lives. They look at the technology, finance, designers, manufacturers and users; and at the consequences of VR in the workplace, in education, in military and medical establishments and on the wider shores of recreation.



Did you see the Mighty Micro clip in a nearby reply? That was a profoundly influential series (and book.) And Barrie Sherman's there too.

Here's the YT comment - it's a long way down, and it's a reply, by

@dredmorbius @cstanhope

@EdS Thanks for the comment screenshot. I'm still not seeing that...

Nor the Mighty Micro clip. Link?


Barrie Sherman wrote and co-wrote several books. He died in 1997 at age 59

Freedom from Work 1983
The New Revolution: The Impact of Computers on Society 1985
Working at Leisure 1986
The State of the Unions 1986

And with Clive Jenkins:
Computers and the Unions 1977
Collective Bargaining: What You Always Wanted to Know 1977
The Collapse of Work 1979
The Leisure Shock 1981
White-collar Unionism: The Rebellious Salariat 1979

with ‎Phillip Judkins
Licensed to Work 1995

@dredmorbius @cstanhope

But The Mighty Micro by Christopher Evans is required reading

Also a profoundly influential television series

You should also watch Now The Chips are Down

Without Evans' book, we wouldn't have had the BBC Micro, so Acorn would have been obscure, and ARM would not have happened.

Also strongly recommend Tilly Blyth's The Legacy of the BBC Micro

@dredmorbius @cstanhope

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