Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Stirring the "Dot-Whatever" Pot By Gary Chapman

An historic contributor to Internet policy, Gary Chapman, Dies
Among other things, he was executive director of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. LBJ School lecturer and Internet expert.

CPSR's final Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility winner is Gary Chapman, who served as CPSR's first executive director from 1985 to 1992.


-- Gary Chapman 8/18/99
"Your site looks very good, thanks. I think it will be very useful to educators and parents. It's a tremendous amount of information, mountains of useful info. Congratulations on a job well done!"
Director The 21st Century Project

Gary Chapman, 1952-2010

Gary Chapman, a senior lecturer at the University of Texas' Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs who was an expert in the field of Internet and technology policy, died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack while on a kayaking trip in Guatemala, longtime friend Jack Nokes said. He was 58. "He was brilliant and humble," Nokes said of Chapman. "He was the smartest guy in the room but acted like he was just like everyone else." Chapman was the director of the LBJ School's 21st Century Project, which was "dedicated to expanding public participation in the development of new goals for science and technology policy in the post-Cold War era." Although Chapman was an expert on technology and computers, Nokes said his friend enjoyed simple pleasures such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and kayaking on rivers in Central Texas.

From: Doug Schuler <>>
Subject: [cpsr-global] CPSR dissolution and Gary Chapman, Winner of CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award
Date: May 7, 2013

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Dissolution and Gary Chapman, Winner of CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility.

It is my unenviable task to announce that Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), a non-profit educational corporation, has been dissolved.

CPSR was launched in 1981 in Palo Alto, California, to question the computerization of war in the United States via the Strategic Computing Initiative to use artificial intelligence in war, and, soon after, the Strategic Defense Initiative — “Star Wars”. Over the years CPSR evolved into a “big tent” organization that addressed a variety of computer-related areas including workplace issues, privacy, participatory design, freedom of information, community networks, and many others.

Now, of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations and movements that are concerned not only about the misuses of ICT by governments and corporations (and others) but also about trying to develop approaches that help communities work together to address issues related to economic and other inequalities and environmental degradation — as well as broader issues such as war and peace.

CPSR to me provided a vital link to important ideas and to inspirational and creative people. These people believed that positive social change was possible and that the use of ICT could play a significant role. For example, in 1993, CPSR developed a document designed to help shape the National Information Infrastructure (NII) program promoted by the Clinton/Gore administration to help guide the evolution of networked digital communication. Through a variety of conferences, workshops and reports, CPSR encouraged conversations about computers and society that went beyond hyperbole and conventional wisdom.

Although in many ways the issues that CPSR helped publicize have changed forms they generally still remain. The ethical and other issues surrounding the computerization of war, for one thing, have not gone away just because they're not prominent on the public agenda. CPSR's original focus on the use of artificial intelligence in “battle management” etc. and the possibility of launch on warning is probably still pertinent. The advent of ubiquitous and inexpensive drones definitely is.

Apparently, as many people know, the age of the participatory membership organizations is over — their numbers are certainly way down — and we in CPSR had certainly noticed that trend. I personally suspect that this development is not necessarily a good thing. I certainly would welcome another membership organization with CPSR's Big Tent orientation.

On the occasion of CPSR's dissolution we've developed two small projects for keeping CPSR's spirit alive.

The first is that it would be a good opportunity to catalog the groups and organizations around the world that would be natural allies to CPSR if it still existed. We've started this cataloging see but presumably have only captured a small fraction of these organizations. Please open an account on the Public Sphere Project site and add the information about your organization.

The second is less concrete but probably no less important. To help the current and future generation of activists as we envision possible futures and interventions, we'd like to put these two related questions forward: What applications of ICT are the most important to human development and sustainability? And, on the other hand, What are the strongest challenges to these applications? Please email me your thoughts on this and I will do my best to compile the thoughts and make them public.


With this note I also want to announce that CPSR's final Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility winner is Gary Chapman, who served as CPSR's first executive director from 1985 to 1992. The award recognizes outstanding contributions for social responsibility in computing technology. Named for Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), who, in addition to a long and active scientific career that brought the word "cybernetics" (and, hence, cyberspace) into the language, was also a leader in assessing the social implications of computerization. Writing in Science (1960) Wiener reminds us that, "... even when the individual believes that science contributes to the human ends which he has at heart, his belief needs a continual scanning and re-evaluation which is only partly possible. For the individual scientist, even the partial appraisal of the liaison between the man and the historical process requires an imaginative forward glance at history which is difficult, exacting, and only limitedly achievable...We must always exert the full strength of our imagination."

Gary who died in 2010, spent nearly three decades working towards peace and social justice as it related to information technology. As Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC) stated, Gary “made many people stop and ask hard questions about technology. Not just ‘Is it cool?' but ‘Does it make our lives better, or more just? And does it make our world more secure?' ”

Gary's technology column, "Digital Nation," was carried in over 200 newspapers and websites. He taught and lectured all over the world, most recently as a guest faculty member at the University of Porto in Porto, Portugal. Since his time at CPSR he had been involved in a multitude of related projects including the International School for Digital Transformation (ISDT) that he and others at the University of Texas convened annually in Porto, Portugal.

Gary was on the faculty of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. On the local level, he also worked to bridge the digital divide, the gulf between those with access to technology and those without. In 1995, for example, he worked on the successful grant application that led to the establishment of Austin Free-Net (, which installed the first public access Internet stations in Austin, and continues today as a national model for bringing digital opportunities to low-income and digitally challenged residents. And in 2010, Gary co-founded Big Gig Austin (, which anchored the successful community campaign to bring the Google gigabit fiber network to Austin.

Gary was a principled and untiring advocate for the use of the Internet a tool for collaboration and other means to bring people together. Also, as a former medic with the Army Special Forces, Gary was especially concerned about the uses of computing in warfare. In his articles in the CPSR Newsletter, he warned that “Automating our ignorance of how to cope with war will produce only more disaster.” With David Bellin he co-edited “Computers in Battle: Will They Work?”, a book on the implications of computer technology in war, and was involved for many years in a rich collaboration with the Pugwash-USPID (Unione Scienziati Per Il Disarmo)-ISODARCO (International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts) community in Italy and elsewhere.

Gary contributed chapters to several books that I was involved with. Most recently, he contributed The Good Life, one of the patterns ( in Liberating Voices, a book that I wrote (with the help of 85 others). The verbiage from the pattern card abridged from the full text reminds us of Gary's humane values, and serves as an important challenge for all of us:

People who hope for a better world feel the need for a shared vision of the "good life" that is flexible enough for innumerable individual circumstances but comprehensive enough to unite people in optimistic, deliberate, progressive social change. This shared vision of The Good Life should promote and sustain conviviality and solidarity among people, as well as feelings of individual effectiveness, self-worth and purpose. A shared vision of The Good Life is always adapting; it encompasses suffering, loss and conflict as well as pleasures, reverence and common goals of improvement. An emergent framework for the modern "good life" is based on some form of humanism, particularly pragmatic or civic humanism, with room for a spiritual dimension that does not seek domination. Finally, the environmental crises of the planet require a broad vision of a "good life" that can harmonize human aspirations with natural limits. All this needs to be an ongoing and open-ended "conversation," best suited to small geographic groups that can craft and then live an identity that reflects their vision of a "good life."

Although this will be CPSR's final Weiner award, the work that Gary and other activists from CPSR and other organizations helped launch over two decades ago is now being carried forward by scores of organizations and thousands of activists all over the world, as digital information and communication systems have assumed such a central location on the world's stage.

Several projects including a Festschrift or other book project or event related to CPSR and social responsibility have been discussed although no firm plans have been made.

Gary Chapman was patient but persistent in his pursuit of progressive goals and a better life for all. Sadly, Gary left us before he could see his vision brought to fruition. He'll be missed but we all must push forward with his vision.


CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility Winners

2013 - Gary Chapman
For his tireless efforts to promote human values within an increasingly computerized world.

1987 - David Parnas
For his work to promote software reliability and his campaign to raise public awareness of the technical infeasibility of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

1988 - Joe Weizenbaum
For his work to promote the human side of his computing, as expressed in his book Computer Power and Human Reason.

1989 - Daniel D. McCracken
For his work in the late 1960s to organize computer professionals against the deployment of ABM systems.

1990 - Kristen Nygaard
For his pioneering work in Norway to develop "participatory design," which seeks the direct involvement of workers in the development of the computer-based tools they use.

1991 - Severo Ornstein and Laura Gould
For their tireless energy to guide CPSR through its early years.

1992 - Barbara Simons
For her work on human rights, military funding, and the U.C. Berkeley reentry program for women.

1993 - Institute for Global Communication
For using network technology to empower previously disenfranchised individuals and groups working for progressive change.

1994 - Antonia Stone
For her work in founding the Playing To Win organization, which has brought computer skills to many people who have long been technologically disadvantaged.

1995 - Tom Grundner
For his pioneering work in establishing the Free Net movement, which has provided access to network technology to entire communities who would otherwise be unrepresented.

1996 - Phil Zimmermann
Inventor of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). PGP allows the average person to encode his or her email. Previously, only governments or large corporations could make their email secure.

1997 - Peter Neumann
Editor of the RISKS Digest, for his outstanding contributions to the field of Risk and Reliability in Computer Science. Read his Notes on Receiving CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award

1998 - The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
A large open international community of individuals, engaged in the development of new Internet standard specifications, for its tremendously positive technical and other contributions to the evolution and smooth operation of the Internet.

1999 - The Free Software & Open Source Movements
This movement profoundly challenges the belief that market mechanisms are always best-suited for unleashing technological innovation. This voluntary and collaborative model for software development is providing a true alternative to proprietary, closed software.

2000 - Marc Rotenberg
For his ongoing efforts through CPSR and the Electronic Privacy Information Center to protect the loss of public's privacy through technological innovation.

2001 - Nira Schwartz and Theodore Postol
For their courageous efforts to disclose misinformation and falsified test results of the proposed National Missile Defense system.

2002 - Karl Auerbach
For pioneering democratic Internet governance.

2003 - Mitch Kapor
For being a role model for anyone seeking to succeed in the cut-throat world of high tech business without sacrificing integrity and conscience.

2004 - Barry Steinhardt
For being a prominent advocate for privacy and other civil liberties in the face of technologically-oriented threats.

2005 - Douglas Engelbart
For being a pioneer of human-computer interface technology, inventor of the mouse, and social-impact visionary. Doug's 1968 Demo

2008 - Bruce Schneier
For his technical achievements and passionate advocacy for privacy, security, and civil liberties.

Douglas Schuler

Monday, October 16, 2000
Copyright 2000, The Los Angeles Times, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission

While most Americans are focused on the looming national elections, there was another interesting election last week, one with some intriguing implications for the future. The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which is based in Marina del Rey, conducted the world's first global "cyber-election." Internet users around the world voted five new at-large members onto ICANN's board of directors, one for each major continent.

ICANN is the not-for-profit corporation launched two years ago to manage the systems that make Internet addresses work. These include the domain name system -- through the ".com," ".org," ".gov" and other suffixes on Web page and e-mail addresses -- and the underlying Internet numerical address system, which assigns unique address numbers to networked computers and other devices.

ICANN is considering, among other things, adding new domain name suffixes -- called Top-Level Domains -- to the Internet, such as ".web," ".kids" and ".biz," to name just a few.

ICANN has been controversial since its inception. Critics have charged that it has a distinct tilt favoring large-business interests, that its meetings and decisions are less than completely open, and that its structure is not sufficiently democratic or inclusive.

In response to some of these complaints, and with funding assistance provided by the Markle Foundation in New York, ICANN created at-large seats on its board, positions filled by the unprecedented, worldwide virtual election that concluded Tuesday. Potential voters had registered this summer, once again through the Internet, and then cast their votes through an online election developed and managed by the New York electronic voting firm The candidate slates were divided by continent in order to prevent dominance by U.S. or European voters.

The North American position was won by Karl Auerbach, an engineer and researcher for Cisco Systems, the giant network-equipment firm in San Jose. Auerbach, who lives in Santa Cruz, has been an outspoken critic of ICANN. His election platform, for example, calls for the resignation or firing of ICANN's chief executive, Michael Roberts, and the same for the organization's secretary and general counsel, Louis Touton. "Part of my platform was to get rid of the senior staff," he said.

Auerbach is blunt, to say the least. ICANN's Roberts, he told me, "created a style of condescending arrogance that is not good for the organization. . . . I will not tolerate Michael Roberts trying to be king of the Internet."

Also somewhat surprising to observers was the election of Andy Mueller-Maguhn of Germany for the European at-large seat. He is a longtime member and spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club in Germany, a loose organization of hackers that has been linked to computer break-ins, although Mueller-Maguhn himself has been an advisor on Internet policy to the German government. His opinions on ICANN are nearly identical to Auerbach's, so the two of them are likely to be the source of some interesting hell-raising once they take their positions next month at the ICANN board meeting in Marina del Rey.

The other three election winners -- Ivan Moura Campos for Latin America and the Caribbean; Masanobu Katoh for Asia, Australia and the Pacific; and Nii Quaynor for Africa -- are expected to be supportive of most, if not all, of ICANN's current policies and character. Unfortunately, no women were elected to the ICANN board.

The at-large members will be outnumbered on the board -- appointed members still number 19, including chairman Esther Dyson, who will leave the board at its meeting next month, and Vint Cerf, the co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and widely regarded as one of the "fathers" of the Internet.

"The at-large members are very much in the position of Sisyphus. We're going to be frustrated over everything we try to do," Auerbach told me last week. On the other hand, he said, "Being on the inside is incredibly important. No one is going to shut me up when I make a point. I hope to set a standard of transparency that other board members will be held to."

Both Auerbach and Mueller-Maguhn are expected to push for more democratic and open procedures, a significant expansion of top-level domains and an end to the $50,000 fee ICANN has required of companies or individuals who sign up to manage a domain. They also have promised to be counterweights to ICANN's tendency to favor trademark holders in disputes about domain names. Large trademark holders -- typically large companies -- want to limit the number of new domains so they don't have to police a lot of domains for trademark violations. Auerbach and Mueller-Maguhn believe that's curtailment of free speech and the democratic potential of the Net.

Auerbach fairly radiates anger with the way ICANN has worked so far, but, he said, "Policy matters can be reversed." In addition to his technical expertise -- Auerbach has been an Internet engineer since 1974, he says -- he is not just coincidentally an attorney.

Esther Dyson said about the new board members, "I think we're going to learn a lot from them, and they're going to learn a lot from serving on the ICANN board. So it's a good thing."

The technical arcana of domain names and Internet addresses may seem remote from daily life.

But technical and policy decisions about how the Internet works will have a profound influence on privacy, freedom of expression, censorship and the balance of power among governments, corporations and individuals.

Observers of the ICANN controversy -- especially ICANN's critics -- view this as an important dispute, if only because ICANN is the earliest prototype of what might loosely be described as Internet governance. "The Internet is in Day One of its infancy," Auerbach said.

Gary Chapman is director of the 21st Century Project at the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at

Questions should be directed to Gary Chapman at


Title: Texas Weighs Value of Laptops vs. Textbooks
Source: New York Times (CyberTimes)
Author: Pamela Mendels
Issue: Education
Description: Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, Jack Christie,
has proposed taking the state's billion-dollar-plus textbook budget and use
it to buy laptop computers for students instead of textbooks. Christie
pressed his case last week when he invited legislators in Austin to a
session where software and hardware makers demonstrated what they consider
to be the benefits of computer learning. The central question now being
asked by the proposal's critics is: Can laptops teach better than books?
These critics argue that a computer screen cannot adequately replace the
printed page. "Nobody wants to read long passages of text on a laptop
computer," said Gary Chapman, who focuses on technology and public policy
issues as director of The 21st Century Project at the Lyndon B. Johnson
School of Public Affairs at the Univ. of Texas in Austin. If Christie gets
his way, Texas will be spending the majority of its textbook budget
purchasing laptops for students within three years.