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Not up to speed on information superhighway

There has been a book around for several years called The Road Less Traveled.

Although I have to confess I haven't read it, some members of my family and some of my friends have, and so I've heard enough about it to know the "road" of which the author writes is the route one takes on a spiritual journey.

But, for me, the road less traveled might well be the "information highway."

Not only is it less traveled, I'm not even sure I've ever found the ramp that leads to it.

And I'm not sure I want to. As I understand it, these people who are promoting the information highway are looking forward to a time when simply by pushing a button or two I can call into my living room anything from a movie to a newspaper. Or maybe even some rare book from a faraway library.

I suppose that might have its advantages, but I'm not sure I want to get my information or entertainment by being programed like some kind of a robot.

There is something to be said for leisurely reading a newspaper, book or magazine while sitting in an easy chair, or a lawn chair, or a pool lounge, or even on a bathroom throne. And I don't think I want to be tied to looking at a computer screen.

Likewise, although it is indeed a convenience to rent a movie and watch it on a television screen, it's no substitute for enjoying a film in the company of a crowd in a movie theater, with its big screen and big sound _ and a big bag of cholesterol-laden popcorn.

This is not to say that I bear any grudge against computers. I think they're one of our greatest modern inventions. I spent the last half of my newspaper editing career working with computers, and I often said there was no way I'd ever want to go back to the old way of editing with pencils, scissors and paste.

Even so, I don't want to do my communicating with my friends via computer. I know there's a lot of that going on these days, but if I'm going to "talk" to someone, I want to hear their voice, and I want them to hear mine.

Which brings to mind another "advance" in modern communication that leaves me wondering: the cordless phone.

We had one of those years ago. It was a sort of bulky model that never was too reliable and we finally sent it off to a rummage sale.

They've been perfected since then, and I have no quarrel with them. In fact, we finally joined what now must be the "cordless majority" and bought one for our home.

But that's as far as we go. Last spring, while watching a spring training game in Clearwater, I heard a ring. And the man sitting next to me pulled out his cellular phone. A five-minute conversation followed. And there was another call after that!

To me, talking on the phone during a baseball game is sort of like remaining seated during the National Anthem. I hope that once they get the baseball strike settled, they'll institute a new rule: Check your phones at the gate.

You can write to Jay Horning c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731.

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