[CYBERBANNER]
[IMAGE OF FKULWICH.GIF]

PEOPLE ASK ME.....


PEOPLE ASK ME..... in RealAudio


For a copy of the RealAudio player, go to Progressive Networks.


This is Robert Krulwich on FRONTLINE's "CYBERSPACE" website. I'm going to be asking myself some of the questions that have been asked by reporters since I did this story. Maybe they are some of your questions.

First question I've been asked is, "What's the point of this whole documentary anyway?" Well, our notion was that we would go to a place that was completely virgin territory as far as business is concerned. Our question was, "Once the sales people, and the advertising people, and the business people arrive in a big, empty space, what do they do?" And we discovered first and foremost, what they do when they get there, they say, "Now what do we do?".

People ask me: "Your show talks about a bargain that people are going to be making when they deal with new-fangled machines, be they computers, or boxes on top of television sets. What's the nature of the bargain?" Well, the view of our show is that more and more you are going to have new choices, you could order books, order clothing, do banking, watch a movie, on demand, whenever you want to, watch a tv show on demand whenever you want to, watch news or receive particular news items to one of these new machines. You'll be willing to pay some of the cost, but you probably won't want to pay the whole cost, which at least in the beginning will be kind of expensive. Advertisers, as they have always done, will be happy to help you out by paying part of the cost so that you can get what you want relatively cheaply. But what do the advertisers want from you? That's where the bargain comes in, you will have to decide whether telling about yourself, information about yourself, sometimes not so intimate, sometimes maybe very intimate, whether you want to exchange information in return for the bargain, the discount, or the show that you seek. Much of the time the bargain will be worth it to you. But over time, you may discover that the amount of information the companies know about you is getting just a little too thick.

People ask me about the scene in our documentary where I'm up in the Jumbotron in Times Square. And it was kinda neat. I mean I looked up at myself... Here's what I did. I went into somebody's house, and I pretended to be in the Jumbotron in Times Square, and I pretended to look down at certain billboards and over at certain other billboards, and tried to get my eyes going in the right direction, and then the tape that I made was taken down and put on that giant screen for two and a half minute intervals, and there I was, way up there in the sky, overlooking Times Square. I was kinda excited by this, and I brought my kids, and my niece and my nephew, and my sister and her friend, all the way down to Times Square to watch. The only problem was-- (A)-- my teeth were not as nice-looking as I thought they were, my pores were much bigger than I ever imagined that they were, and no one, and I mean absolutely no one, but me, my sister, and for a little while my kids and my nephew looked up at me. Otherwise it was an absolute non-event. That a strangely gesticulating man with odd-looking teeth could be up on the Jumbotron for two and a half minute intervals, and then back again two and a half minutes later, and then back again, and then back again, and have no one even notice is both a wonderfully private experience and, well, a little disappointing.

People ask "How many of these new shopping services, or banking services, or information services, or movies on demand, how many of them are going to succeed?" One way to answer that question is to think about the form that they come in. Some companies will sell you a service, and they'll say here's what we've got, you sign up with us and on your television set or on your computer, or somewhere through your phone, you'll be able to receive these movies, these shows, this news, these recipes, these books, these dresses, and there will be a series of fixed things that you can choose from. Other companies--and the Washington Post is a good example right now with their on-line newspaper--they say well, we've got a newspaper, but we're going to leave you a playspace, and you can invent, right here, and if you want to cook-up something, cook it up with the other people that use this system.

So if moms want to have a sign-up sheet so that people can get to JV junior- varsity soccer games in Maryland, we'll give you space, and you can have the sign-up sheet so people can arrange transportation. Moms would think of that, not the newspaper. But moms did think of that and now it's on the newspaper. Creating a space for people to use and letting them invent in that space may turn out to be the better model than creating a space where all the architecture is in place. The question is, will it work top-down or will it work bottom- up? We shall see.



WGBH Educational Foundation / www.wgbh.org
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation
SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS