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
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
"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
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
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