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The electronic superhighway is a world-wide information and communications structure gradually emerging as the direct descendant of telephone, cablevision and the Internet. Precisely what form the structure will take is not yet clear.
Henry H. Perritt Jr. sees the national information structure emerging from the convergence of five cultures and three conceptual models. Each of the five cultures has its own traditions and outlook. The first is that of broadcasters, entertainment producers and cable carriers; the second is the telephone companies; the third, the world of text publishers, librarians, government information enterprises; the fourth is Internet users, and the fifth, computer hardware and software producers. All will contribute to the emerging communications structure. A moment's reflection makes one realise how different in outlook they are, be it on regulated vs. unregulated markets, on innovation and its rewards, on universal service at affordable prices vs. letting the chips fall where they may, on interoperability of the products and services of different providers.
The emergence of the electronic superhighway will probably force the convergence, adaptation or even disappearance of ""cultures"" that have hitherto been able to develop in their separate ways. It should entail a debate on the society we want to live in.;The papers in this volume explore this debate.