By Vince Giuliano
May 1998, Update February, 2008

A scenario:

Randy has a first dinner date tonight with Laura, a woman whom he met on Yahoo Personals.  Their Internet correspondence has been getting more intimate recently.  they have video-chatted using Skype and exchanged semi-intimate photos via instant messaging.  They have checked out and verified each other’s professional identities on-line too.  Because of Laura’s Peace Corps background in Africa, Randy has picked an Ethiopian restaurant in New York as a place for their first physical meeting.  He found the restaurant on the web and made a reservation there on-line using his I-phone.  Before he steps out to meet her, Randy sprays on a pheromone-based sex-attractant cologne.  On Laura’s way out the door she slips a couple of bags of ginseng tea, her favorite, into her purse, alongside of her Moto Q cell phone and her C2 Taser stun gun.  All just-in-case.  Her purse also holds her Zune MP-3 player, her birth-control tablets, her Lamictal mood stabilizer, a pocket copy of the I-Ching and a number of antioxidants.  Using her phone’s GPS, she will figure out where she is going and how to get there after she gets on the street.  Randy, just in case, used to carry a condom in his wallet when he was a teen-ager.  Now, also just in case, he carries a couple of Cialis tablets.  Laura has talked about going to a Candomblé ceremony after dinner with Randy, a small informal and private affair organized by a Brazilian friend she met on Facebook.  It is a conflict for Randy since he must get up very early tomorrow to go to a New Warrior Seminar in Woodstock organized by his Men’s Group.  Randy would rather bring Laura home to his place where she would stay over.  He shall see.


What is going on here?  The basic story is familiar but many of the specifics did not exist ten years ago.  Who and how we are in the world is being bent and shaped by three mighty though semi-invisible streams. The scenario is just one snapshot of the countless ways these streams impact on us.   I use UNIVAC, KEROUAC, and PROZAC as icons for these streams. They are streams of technology, how we pass our lives and the substances we use to enhance them.  They are radically changing the landscapes of our lives.  They have mutated the recent past and will continue to reconfigure our future. They have profoundly altered me personally, and almost certainly you too.


First, a little background on the icons themselves.


UNIVAC®  was the trade name for the first commercial general-purpose electronic computer, marketed by Remington Rand starting in 1951.  I use UNIVAC as the icon for the incredibly rapid evolution and proliferation of computers, solid-state electronics, and electronic communications – and for all of the other electronic extensions of ourselves.

Comprised in this steam of revolution are computers: big, small, personal, corporate, and embedded in products of all kinds.  I include all things with transistors and chips in them and the software that drives them.  Also in this stream are communications networks in the home, in the office, in the car and world-wide, cell phones, CD ad DVD players, global worldwide satellite networks, HDTV sets, ATM machines, GPS units, the Internet in all of its extensions, smart appliances, RFID chips and smart medical implants.  Included are all the new generation of electronic systems, gizmos that continue to unfold on a daily basis: pocket heart monitors, electronic bathroom scales, smart traffic lights, smart coffee-makers, you name it.  I also include in the UNIVAC stream the software that animates all of this hardware that would otherwise be inert junk.  And of course I include the tools, applications and new ways of using the Internet, the fastest-developing international entity in all history.

The roots of this stream of course go back before UNIVAC to Edison, Marconi, Rutherford and DeForest (inventor of the vacuum tube). It was in the early 1950s, however, when this stream burst out to include computers, TV, tape recorders and all that came to depend on solid state electronics. Prior to the UNIVAC I, computers were one-of-a-kind custom built devices, like the Harvard Mark I, the ENIAC and the MIT Whilrwind.  The UNIVAC I was the first commercially-sold mainframe computer, with vacuum tube logic units, magnetic tape drives and electronic memory. When UNIVAC I came to market, IBM was still selling only punch card machinery. 

Jack Kerouac is of course the key novelist of the Beat Generation. I use KEROUAC is an icon for the changing vision of who we are as humans, our human potential, what we care about, how we see ourselves personally, what we allow ourselves to think, what are willing to put at risk, what we are willing to do, and our view of others. 

I include in this icon our changing relationships to each other, to cultures, religion and thought, the developing world consciousness, and the human-potential movement as it applies to both individuals and businesses. 

Why use the poet Kerouac as an icon?  His life and writings stand in testimony to independence of thought and living life itself as an art form, to establishing personal identity in a broader context than that of locale and local relationships, to identifying with an alternative community, and to integrating Eastern philosophical ideas (Buddhism in this case) into personal philosophy.  Spiritual self-realization was important for him, at least from an intellectual perspective. Also, he was concerned personally and in his writings with the transition between old family and traditional values and the new wild life he was leading as a beat poet.  Like any icon, however, the man Jack Kerouac is not the same as the broad social revolutionary movement his icon name is used to represent here. KEROUAC did not “walk the walk” of leading a spiritual or contemplative life like Gary Snyder and Ginsberg did. However,he played an important role in popularizing Eastern philosophies. And Kerouac’s life ended tragically when he drunk himself to death.

Following Kerouac and his associated beat poets came the Beatnik and then the Hippie movements, leading to the current level of legitimization of alternative lifestyles.  Fewer than one family in five now fits the 1950’s standard template of father working, mother and two children at home.  Most children are born out of wedlock in the US now.  At the moment it is nip-and-tuck as to whether our next president will be a black or a woman.  The current manifestations of the KEROUAC stream are many,  including the humanistic psychology and education movements, widespread following of Eastern religious and contemplative practices in the West, liberalization of our conventional religions, the alternative press, and humanistic and holistic management approaches.  Also, indirectly related to Kerouac himself but important in the stream represented by the KEROUAC icon are the ecology movement and broadening of personal identity to seeing oneself as a participant on the level of humanity.  Many events contribute to this stream.  Pictures of Earth from outer space made possible by the UNIVAC stream contribute to our seeing ourselves as sharing being inhabitants of the planet Earth, and having some custodial responsibility for this planet.  The same is true of the GOOGLE EARTH application.

Prozac®, is of course the proprietary name for a mood- leveling drug (Fluoxetine), made by Eli Lilly & Co. and used by over 6 million people. I use PROZAC as an icon for developments in biochemistry and genetics that are sweeping over us, transforming medicine, offering possibilities for curing cancer and most other diseases now afflicting us, altering our age demographics and relaxing the constraints of our physical bodies.

The substance Prozac®) is itself interesting.  By inhibiting the uptake of the brain chemical serotonin, Prozac® affects brain chemistry in a way very different from the classical “uppers” such as amphetamine and “downers” such as morphine, or the hallucinogenic like LSD.  Prozac® tends to level mood, meaning fewer lows and fewer highs as well.   Zoloft® and Paxil®, “cousin” drugs manufactured by other pharmaceutical companies, work the same way. 

Prozac® is also an anti-obsession and anti-bulimic agent, and may promote weight change.  The drug has generated a certain amount of controversy, mainly associated with purported side effects.  For example, there may be evidence that the drug induces kleptomania.  It is only one of a rapidly expanding repertory of proprietary drugs that affect behavior, representing a total market of over $20 billion.  It has been called “the pride of psychiatry” and also “the world’s most murderous drug,”

Of course Prozac® is just one of very many mood-changing drugs, and an older one at that.  There is a significant pharmacopoeia of legal mood altering drugs prescribed by the psychiatric profession, such as Lithium carbonate, Valproic acid (Depakene®), divalproex sodium, sodium valproate (Depacon®), Lamotrigine (Lamictal®), Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Gabapentin (Neurontin), Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal® ) andTopiramate (Topamax®).  Many of these have been proven effective in controlling conditions like depression or bipolar disorder.  And of course there are the many illegal drugs mood-changers in widespread use like marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, mescaline, GHB, crystal-meth and heroin.  Finally, there are a number of legal non-prescription substances that purportedly act as mood stabilizers like ginkgo biloba herb, piracetam, Sam-E and centrophenoxine – not to mention chocolate, tobacco and cozy-comfort tea.

I am using the PROZAC icon to represent far more than behavior-changing chemicals, however, and to include the whole range of new biochemical and genetic possibilities emerging out of biotech research this century.  Possibilities associated with this stream include genetic manipulation of unborn children, cloning of animals and humans, genetic correction of disease susceptibility, and new designer crops and animals.  Also, I include the genetic and biotech developments that could allow human life-spans of hundreds of years.  Finally, included in this stream are the various schools of alternative medicine and mind-body connections.

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A lot has been written on each of these revolutionary streams.  What I find to be most interesting is the interactions among them.  The streams combine to create an intricate dance of creation.  They intertwine like three snakes wrapped around one another, writhing in a way that it is impossible to discern which snake is doing what.  The result of this dance is that one stream potentates another to create ever more-powerful and unexpected results. 


It’s hard to know where best to start, since the streams are so intertwined, so I will start out somewhere in the middle.




The new world of computers and communications is enabling profound shifts in who we are and who we think we are.  And, it is the nature of such shifts that they are not always noticed as they happen.


Here is a simple example I observed back in 1996 in a restaurant in the countryside in Paraguay – one frequented both by city business people and ranchers.  The restaurant had a grass roof and straw on the floor, and long tables where people ate family style.  Horses wandered about just outside the restaurant.  Most folks wore jeans, and there was a lot of beer, wine, red meat, loud conversation, and outbursts of laughter.  Each man there and the few women placed their pistols right next to their dinner plates so they would be handy if needed.  The pistols were clearly expression of their macho identities, leaving me feeling awkward for want of a pistol.  But wait, those side arms were not pistols!  They were cell phones, which continued to go off at unexpected intervals.  The norm was that the cell phone had priority over eating or conversation at the table. This scene could be found all over Latin America and in the third world.  In a subsequent visit to a Caracas restaurant, I found the scene had evolved.  Not only were there cell phones, but also a scattering of Palm Pilots and other PDAs on the tables.  Being connected in the instant is the identity that was being expressed.


When I wrote the previous paragraph ten years ago cell phones were rarely seen in the US.  The home phone was how you reached people.  Talking on a cell phone while in company was regarded as rude.  Now with more cell phones out there than people, the traditional US phone companies are facing increasing cancellation of land phone lines.  Over ten years the telephone went from being an institutional communications means grounded in a business or home to being a highly personal extension of the self.  The little thing hanging by a stranger’s ear is highly personal.  It is not a piece of jewelry but a Bluetooth for the phone or an earphone for the MP-3 player, or possibly both.


Internet, via its essentially no-cost world-wide communications, facilitates communities which are not geographically based.  And, with the communities comes the identities that go with those communities.  How many of us bat off e-mail to colleagues and friends around the world on a daily basis now without even thinking about it?  In the culture of e-mail within cyber communities there is often a certain good will and generosity that does not exist in normal discourse.  Strangers become friends who put you in touch with other strangers to help get things done and they also can become friends. On a personal level – and the essence of the KEROUAC stream is that it involves the intensely personal - I find myself as a cyber-being willing to extend a certain magnanimity to strangers that I normally would not extend in physical public places.  And I get magnanimity back too.  Also, Internet empowers me to have a work-play lifestyle that I love.  I can work when I feel like it wherever I feel like working, using my notebook computer, my cell phone, my current PDA, my digital camera and my little HDTV camcorder. 


I first wrote this paragraph (1998) sitting at a kitchen table in my family cottage on an island in Lake Winnipesaukee on a cold dreary day in April shortly after the ice went out of the lake.  Just outside, angry waves from the NorthEast were tossing our little boat hard against the dock.  Besides my wife Melody who was reading by the roaring Franklin stove, there was probably nobody else around for miles.  So what if my Internet communications were a little slower here than at home or the office?  It was cozy there.  II logged in and exchanged notes with some of my clients and buddies in Spain and Latin America.


Since my first draft of this article ten years ago, a number of new technology applications have emerged to empower human interactions.  Social network web sites is one such example.  These networks facilitate people connecting for such things as finding jobs, new partners, places to live and people to play with.  Sites like KinkedIn.com, Facebook.com and Facebook.com do this.  There are cybercommunities augmenting real ones of every kind imaginable.  Blogs allow sharing of personal experiences and the formation of impromptu communities of all kinds.  There are hundreds of thousands of them.  Web-empowered cell phones, instant messaging and mobile e-mail allow extension of cyberspace community to everyplace and every time.  SKYPE and other videoconferencing sites allow friends, colleagues and lovers to stay in close hourly contact without cost although they are continents apart.  Many sites facilitate meeting new people and dating them for purposes of every taste. And for some who want to live seriously in pure cyberspace community there are sites like Second Life. 

All these developments not only expand social possibilities but, KEROUAC-like, also pose questions about the acceptable limits of our behavior.  Is it acceptable for a happily-married man in a committed relationship to have a torrid affair with another player in a virtual world?  From an August 10 2007 article in the Wall Street Journal: “He's never met the woman outside of the computer world of Second Life, a well-chronicled digital fantasyland with more than eight million registered "residents" who get jobs, attend concerts and date other users. He's never so much as spoken to her on the telephone. But their relationship has taken on curiously real dimensions. They own two dogs, pay a mortgage together and spend hours shopping at the mall and taking long motorcycle rides. This May, when Mr. Hoogestraat, 53, needed real-life surgery, the redhead cheered him up with a private island that cost her $120,000 in the virtual world's currency, or about $480 in real-world dollars. Their bond is so strong that three months ago, Mr. Hoogestraat asked Janet Spielman, the 38-year-old Canadian woman who controls the redhead, to become his virtual wife. -- The woman he's legally wed to is not amused. "It's really devastating," says Sue Hoogestraat, 58, an export agent for a shipping company, who has been married to Mr. Hoogestraat for seven months. "You try to talk to someone or bring them a drink, and they'll be having sex with a cartoon."


Internet as a research tool empowers me to find out almost anything about anything using the Web and search engines.  It empowers me in my knowing.  My information tools enable me to function outside of a corporate structure as an independent professional.  I am joined by human and cyber links with an international “empowerment network” of colleagues I work with. See my article on empowerment networks.  This is a lot different than the absinth-drinking artists in Paris sitting around café tables who on the one hand celebrate their difference from humdrum bourgeois life, and on the other hand bemoan their lack of connection, poverty, isolation and powerlessness.  I can have it all – be different in my own peculiar ways but yet be empowered and vitally connected.


Anything Everywhere, and Any Place in My Place


Now in 2008 my island home has HDTV if I want to pay for it.  I have regular cable TV and a broadband Internet connection there.  I can videoconference from there now.  My cell phone, pocket digital camera and PDA have collapsed into a single device.   Using this device I can snap photos and take short movies and promptly share them with my friends anywhere.  There are six active general-purpose computers in my home on a high speed wired and wireless network with nearly terabytes of combined memory.


My new 47” 0180p HDTV is worth comment.  It brings me immersive audiovisual experience beyond what is available in theatres – not only of broadcast commercial materials but of my own video and DVD productions.  The TV is a portal linking two worlds.  One world is my family room, with one two, or up to ten of us family and friends sometimes talking, eating popcorn, drinking tea or beer, or interacting in our particular ways.  The other world is a changeable one largely under my control.  A few clicks and I can portal to terribly realistic-looking and awesome-sounding places. Other clicks take us to boring or barely-tolerable places.  I can zoom around picking place and circumstances.  Click, a Patriots football game; click, a creepy cop movie; click, the inside of a rocket ship in space; click, I am witnessing a cold blooded murder; click, pudgy political experts are before me expounding endlessly on which candidate is up and which is down; click, I am exploring an underground cavern in Chile;  click, an aged but trim blond is telling me to act now to buy an exercise machine; click, I am in a frigate in the midst of a sea battle; click, click, click, click : a visit to the Easter Islands, Victorian England, Ancient Rome, China in the twelfth century.  Click, I am in a research submarine a mile deep under the ocean; click, I am in the midst of Aleutian Eskimos. Click, I am in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome watching a grand version of Aida that is going on right now; click, I am in  the Paradiso or the Melkweg experiencing nightlife in Amsterdam; click, I am eavesdropping on one of Tony Soprano’s painful therapy sessions, click; I am dangerously close to an active volcanic crater on Mount Aetna.  There are hundreds of channels to pick among and again that number of on-demand shows and movies.  And we have a collection of DVDs and shows we have recorded not to mention ones from the library and Blockbuster Video and NetFlix.    What would Marshal McLuhan write or say if he could experience this sensory feast? 


I submit that HDTV seen on a large LCD screen with a good sound system connected to cable or satellite with a DVR and DVD recorder is a fundamentally different medium than the TV known to Marshal McLuhan when he was writing Understanding Media in the 1960s.  The differences are:


·                    Where there used to be four to six TV channels available, now there are at any time hundreds if you have a good cable or satellite subscription. A TIVO or other DVR enables time shifting and greatly expands availability of good programming. In addition, on-demand video programming offered by the same companies swell the available offerings by the hundreds. Then there is the video materials available on DVD in your private home collection, in the video store, in your library or available from Netflix. If you have both a DVR and a DVD recorder, you can build up your own collection of movies and other programming on DVDs. The availability of on-demand video materials is rapidly increasing. The cable and satellite providers will soon be offering thousands of movies and other programs. More interesting, at the time of this writing a number of companies are gearing up to provide movies and video programming over the Internet. It won't be too long before essentially all movies and recorded works are available on-demand. Back in the 60s, most of the things on TV most of the time were not worth watching.  Now all of the time there is a choice of many things worth watching. Before long, all the time you will be able to watch anything out there in your home.


·                    The old TV video was in black-and-white or washed-out color with images made up out of horizontal lines with snowy noise on a 9” or 15” tube.  The sound came from a 3” speaker mounted in the cabinet as an afterthought.  The new HDTV image shows on a 40,” 50” or 60 inch LCD or plasma screen with in-depth Dolby surround sound from multiple speakers.  The impression of realism is incomparable.  The old TV image looked and sounded like a rough facsimile of reality.  The new TV looks and sounds like a window opening up to another real place.  And it is.


Scenery in the old TV had the details washed out of it and was not very interesting.  Videography therefore used to emphasize the use of close-ups, such as of faces.  The new HDTV shows panoramic views magnificently: mountains, villages, natural scenes in which you can make out the individual branches and leaves on the trees.  And, in viewing the crowds attending the academy awards ceremony or attacking a castle in a movie or watching a basketball game, you can see the expressions on individual faces, hundreds of them.  And you can experience the sounds and energy of the crowd as if you were there.


We are approaching the point of having a window we can open up to practically anywhere and anything we want to experience in realistic sight and sound.  We are not there yet, but are well on the way.  And if I really want to explore anything in intellectual depth, I can just step into the next room and start using the search engines on Internet.  My main computer monitor has a 32” LCD screen. The world is my place, I can see, hear and learn about essentially everything that is not kept secret. 


Marshal McLuhan point was :”The Medium is the Message.”  I think this should be amended to read :”The Medium is the Message and the Medium is the Portal.” 


Anybody Anywhere Anytime (if they want to)


Do I want to see and  talk to Luciano, an old colleague in Sao Paulo Brazil or to Diego in Pamplona Spain, or Hal in Munich Bavaria, or my cousin Nicola in San Pietro a Maida in Calabria or my son Joe in Cambridge – no problem, ring ‘em up on SKYPE.  Same for my college roommates Steve and Seymour and for my boyhood friend Jerry, wherever they may be.


So, from the KEROUAC viewpoint, who am I when I have portals to everything and anybody everywhere?  Who I am becomes more and more a matter of my choice rather than of necessity.  I am empowered to have interests and make identity choices and join communities as I wish.  I could spend my retirement years crusading for control of global warming, retrofitting an old sail boat or buy a cottage on a wonderful island in Second Life and retire there with a sexy 25 year-old second-life wife (even if the real woman behind the 25 year-old is 60).  As it is, I am too restless and too grounded for any of these.  I choose to pursue creative writing, research and video making and enjoy my real family and friends, keeping a healthy blend between my real and cyber experiences and identities.


KEROUAC stream technology


Just like there is a series of technologies, behind the UNIVAC and KEROUAC streams, there are powerful "humanwear" technologies furthering the KEROUAC stream.  Among these are the traditional ones of contemplation, meditation, and drugs, and disciplines like Kung Fu and Zen.  There is also a host of newer approaches for human and organizational transformation that borrow from the traditional ones, such as the work of Landmark Education in human transformation, and the application of Knowledge Management to organizational transformation. Thousands of semi-formal organizations espouse aspects of "New Age" philosophy , whether they are derived from Asian traditions or based on science or ecology.


And personal transformation demands and facilitates organizational transformation.  Much on my professional work, for example, involved introducing concepts and practices for knowledge-sharing into traditional companies.  Like thousands of others today, my colleagues and I are comfortable with seamless transition between talking about human empowerment one minute, and the role of extranets and social networking sites for this purpose the next minute. 


From the 2008 viewpoint new technology applications are having a profound impact on the political process – again KEROUAC transformations facilitated by UNIVAC technology.  In February 2008 the leading Democratic candidate for president, Barach Obama, has found ways to use the web to mobilize self-organizing political communities that seem to more effective for grass-root political organization than the established political machines backing his rivals.  Obama has been able to recruit a million campaign contributors, raising more money than the other candidates which rely more on a much smaller number of deep-pocket contributors  These deep-pocket contributors are more often than not groups or organizations seeking political favor.  So, in principle at least, Obama is going into the election with fewer secret commitments than the other candidates, a KEROUAC development.  Young people with open minds about what is possible understandably seem to be in the forefront of the Obama movement.


UNIVAC – KEROUAC – UNIVAC -KEROUAC – round and round we are going.




Modern genetic research and new-drug development is only possible through use of computers, electronic microscopes, mass spectroscopes, computerized gene splicers, chemical and genetic computer data bases, e-mail communications among scientists and the like. It would never have been possible to identify the human genome without powerful computers.  And without them today new drug discovery, genetic research and the biotech industry would grind to a halt.  As our information tools improve, so will our understandings of ourselves as physical beings. Patient data bases are becoming more universal, improving the quality of our lives from birth through death.  The latest medical technology is possible only because of the UNIVAC stream including MRI machines, Cat Scans, Lithotripters, and all the machines that beep in the operating room and ICU.  Today, at least a half-dozen machines in a typical hospital operating room are microprocessor controlled and sport LCD-screens, up from none twenty years ago.  When a microprocessor-controlled device monitors and constantly adjusts the flow of a new anesthetic bend to allow a patient to go home with a clearer mind and enjoy his family, this is UNIVAC meeting up with PROZAK to serve KEROUAC.


World-wide data bases allow the monitoring of epidemics and the emergence of new dangerous bacteria.  Important information is flashed to all via Internet.  There are perhaps 15000 health and medical sites on Internet.  If I have a set of X-rays taken today near my home in Boston, my daughter, a radiologist, can be reading them from her home tonight in Billings Montana.  My orthopedist will have my daughter’s opinion by e-mail in the morning.  And when I walk into the doctor’s office I will know what my daughter’s expert opinion is too. 


New medical and life-science developments are published informally on Internet by their creators as soon as the results are in.  This replaces the old system where important medical papers were delayed a year or more in the journal publication process.  The linkage system of Internet allows a doctor, researcher or layperson to move rapidly from one to another resource throughout the world very rapidly and efficiently.  In three minutes on the Internet, it is possible to travel between resource sites that would take 100,000 miles of travel if it had to be done physically.


Folding over to the KEROUAC stream, Internet allows us ordinary people to learn more about diseases, cures and alternative medical approaches, empowering ourselves to learn more about our health conditions and take ever-increasing responsibility for our personal health. Thousands of sites on Internet offer ordinary people as well as health professionals great depth of information on all aspects of health and medical conditions.




The link from Prozac to KEROUAC is pretty obvious.  We use drugs – legal and illegal – in multiple ways to provide us experience, assert or express our identities, express our views of life, and allow ourselves to behave in ways we would not otherwise behave.  And here it is possible to identify four general families:  1.  Legal prescription medications blessed by the medical establishment like Prozac, but often used by millions as lifestyle-modification drugs, 2.  Alcohol and tobacco, which are legal, widely used, but addictive and dangerous in their own ways, 3.  Illegal addictive drugs ranging from marijuana to crack, and 4.  Health and identity substances which are non-addictive, legal, but not part of the medical establishment’s pharmacopoeia. This last group is the one of most personal interest to me, and includes vitamins, Chinese medicines, herbal concoctions, “smart drugs” and hormone supplements. For example, it is claimed that St. John’s Wort works more or less like Prozac.  I take some 135 pills a day that are not regular medicines.  For example, they include DHEA, Melatonin, Astragalus root, Ginko Bilboa, Pregnenelone, co-enzyme Q-10, and a raft of vitamins and minerals.  You might want to have a look at my 9 Top Supplements document. My purposes are feeling better, living longer, having more vitality, better mental acuity, and enjoying other specific health benefits as well.  I am not alone in this respect.  The food-supplement market in the US is some $15 billion in size.

Prozac® is a lifestyle prescription drug, and is only one of many. The impact of oral contraceptives on women’s lifestyles needs no comment.  And there are drugs for weight loss, weight gain, sleep, remaining wakeful, improvement of memory, restoration of hair, control of pain, and – the application that opens up more markets than anything else – sex.  Drafting this (1998), the media was full of comments on Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) by Pfizer, which allows men to have strong and lasting penis erections.  While marketed in theory to help the 30 million Americans who suffer from erectile dysfunction, its popularity and appeal – at $10 a pill – extended to a lot of other men as well for reasons that do not need explaining.   The annual market for Viagra® was estimated to be $5 billion back then, and the total market for lifestyle prescription drugs perhaps $100 million.  From the 2008 view the options are broader, including Levitra® and Cialis® which works for 3 days instead of just 4 hours.  Does the availability of these substances affect social behavior (KEROUAC)?  You bet.  For example, now there is an important issue of how to assure safe sex among nursing home residents.

The influence relationships between personal identity (KEROUAC) and use of substances (PROZAC) go in both directions.  Older folks take vitamins and minerals to express their commitment to youth, and much use of illegal drugs is in expression of being “alternative” - being a part of an alternative community of such users.

Many of those allowing themselves to be carried forward by the currents of the KEROUAC stream are active in the adoption of new technologies and approaches to health.   Not only are people living longer but more older people are healthier and open to pursuing new and creative activities later in life.  Take me for example, Vince the writer.  Now in 2008 I am 78, highly involved in studying the biotechnology literature related to longevity (PROZAK), enjoying great family friends and community (KEROUAC) and writing articles like this one, screenplays and short stories. I am doing art and creating video KEROUAC) with the help of the computers and networks in my home and inspired by what I see on HDTV (UNIVAC). I am having lots of fun.  Check my websites www.vincegiuliano.name for writings, www.giulianoart.com for art, www.artkoukou for the art movement I started. Finally the Electronic Publishing Group web site tells a bit about my professional career as a consultant.



And how about the three-way relationships among the the PROZAC, KEROUAC and UNIVAC streams?   Again, there are multiple cross linkages.  Consider, for example, the proliferation of web sites devoted to all the ramifications of drugs and associated personal identification.  A search on the word Marijuana using Google retrieves 32.4 million references to different web sites.  Hundreds of websites promote and sell “smart drugs” and lifestyle-related hormone and herbal products. Offshore sellers sell products that are not sold in the US, but are legal for importation for personal use by mail order.


Another way that UNIVAC folds in with both PROZAC and KEROUAC is in terms of health support groups.  The web features hundreds of support groups for people with medical conditions – ranging from AIDS to little-known diseases such as Alpha-one anti-trypsine deficiency.  These groups allow sharing of information and feelings on multiple levels. Picking an arcane example, there is an association of people who happen to have the as Alpha-one anti-trypsine deficiency disease, and they maintain a website to enable people with the disease to connect with each other to exchange information, and even socialize on-line. What we find on this Internet web, and on hundreds of similar disease-specific ones webs, is a mixture of professional information, personal information and communication among people who have the disease and who want to connect to other people who have the same disease.  The Alpha-one anti-trypsine deficiency web site even offers a photo album of people who have got this disease, and who are open to sharing information about their experience with each other.  They share information about their conditions, about the therapies they’ve had and what they’re doing.  They share stories, pictures, life stories, and even poems.  For people with the disease, such communications can be highly useful, breaking through what otherwise would be personal isolation.


Another rare disease for which there are powerful Internet support sites is Angleman’s Syndrome, an incurable disease that affects children.  “Angel Down Under” is an Australian site for families with children who have the disease.  The site refers to children who have this syndrome as “angels.”  This site contains many pictures of families and their “angel” children, and family history narratives.  It is full of highly personal information.  I cannot but help feel emotionally moved when looking at the pictures of the “angels” and hearing their stories. 


And here we see another characteristic of Internet health communications:   Sometimes the content of an Internet health site is not just rational information, but also content with highly emotional impact.  Many of the hundreds of disease-specific webs are created and maintained by people who have the condition and know its implications well.  Internet offers families who have a seriously diseased member a way of sharing with other families who have a member with the same diseases.  This is just one of thousands of crossovers from UNIVAC to PROZAC to KEROUAC streams.




How the interactions of UNIVAC and PROZAC and KEROUAC play out in a specific situation is highly dependent on cultural factors and there are other major trends out there that are shaping where and how things are going.  I comment only briefly on these.


·                    Environmental changes and critical resource scarcity – these include climate change, death of species, pollution of all kinds, depletion and consequent rising costs of resources like oil and fish stocks, soil erosion, food scarcity, loss of rain forests, monoculture agriculture – all those things resulting from human’s patterns of not exercising stewardship for continuation of quality life on the planet


Information technology (UNIVAC) offers some medium and long-term hopes here such as via hybrid vehicles, photovoltaic, wind and other alternative energy sources.  Biotechnology researchers (PROZAC) have developed genetically-engineered food crops that grow under adverse conditions, microbes that can neutralize certain forms of pollution, and are working on means to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Consciousness of these matters and willingness to address the issues (KEROUAC) is rapidly developing and expressing itself in environmental movements, international treaties and encouragement of steps to address many of the long-term human survival issues concerned.  Whether these countervailing trends may be mobilized in time to ward off major human disasters remains an open question. 


Religious and economic philosophies, trends and activities that tend to block or negate the forces of UNIVAC, PROZAC and KEROUAC.  Fundamentalist religions and their conservative political counterparts, for example, often reject the new ideas and ways of being of KEROUAC and regard them as evil.  They also reject some branches of PROZAC activity such as stem cell research and cloning.  They often see the developments of the life sciences as in conflict with their established religious truths.  As to UNIVAC, Some major communications corporations would like to establish the same corporate control over Internet that they now enjoy over communication of TV content.  But it interesting that the major tools of UNIVAC – broadcast and cable TV, the web and e-mail – have been adapted and are being used across the political and economic spectrum.


·                    Wars, violence, terrorism, genocide and natural and man-made disasters threaten existence and therefore tend to dominate what is going on and the immediate agenda for dealing with it.  So in the US we have seen many laws passed as an aftermath of the World Trade Center attack that limit our constitutional freedoms; torture is now condoned – setbacks for the KEROUAC stream of development.  In a war between major powers one of the first thing that would happen is communications satellites being shot down – a major setback for the UNIVAC stream.  The high cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in limiting social and educational programs in the US (blows to KEROUAC) and limiting of biomedical as well as other research (limiting PROZAC). 


The UNIVAC, PROZAC, and KEROUAC streams have their own ways of fighting back against environmental deterioriation, wars and retrograde philosophies.  For example Move On, a technology empowered mass action group (UNIVAC and KEROUAC) has mobilized much public sentiment in the US against the Iraq war by providing Internet based information and connections not available through the mass media.  And the humanistic philosophies of the KEROUAC trend move people to take action against genocide, global warming and the destruction of the environment.  These ways of fighting back are profound but they are slow.  They may ultimately prevail but it may take decades to undo the havoc and damage created by the Iraq war.


The three steams appear to be swelling if anything.  In the UNIVAC stream, Moore’s law, now in the 30th year of its operation, continues to work its wonder – every 18 month period it is possible to get the same computer power for half the cost, or double the computer power for the same cost.  The average new car now has around a dozen onboard computers.  Computers and microprocessors are showing up everywhere -  in appliances, worn on our bodies, connected to us before we are born and buried with our corpses.  New fiber-optic, satellite and wireless broadband systems are weaving us all closer together, and personal communications devices will abound in kind and power.

In the KEROUAC stream, grandmothers and children are using computers and e-mail, and Internet usage in the US probably already exceeds TV watching.  Internet may already be more important than TV in the political process.  We will never be out of touch except by desire.  Internet is the fastest-growing social phenomenon in human history and shows no signs of abating.  And biotechnology is not very far behind and picking up steam fast.  New breakthroughs are announced in the press weekly.  The UNIVAC information revolution was picking up steam in 1950 and is still expanding.  The biotechnology revolution (PROZAC) is now in about the same state of maturity as the information revolution was in 1950. It has a very long way to go.  Medicine is moving from being an art to a real science.  It is our lifestyles themselves which are slowest to change.  But change they will, and with ever-greater acceleration to keep up with the other two streams.  We are only at the beginning.


Strong doses of KEROUAC-stream technology were important for opening me up to the possibilities of the UNIVAC stream (where my profession and business has been) and the PROZAC stream (which I depend on for vitality and longevity).  But for the thousands of hours in my life of group therapy, T-group training, encounter groups, human relationships, EST and Landmark Education training, and other workshops of all kinds, I would not have the internal freedom to lead the life I lead or to enjoy it as I do.  I probably never would have been involved with Internet to the depth I have been, would not have the international group of colleagues I have, and certainly would not be writing this article. 


A final note:  I feel I have only scratched the surface of the inter-weavings of the UNIVAC, PROZAC and KEROUAC streams.  I invite readers to share their own stories and ideas.  You can reach me by e-mail at vegiulian@comcast.net



I have written a number of other works which touch on themes in this paper from various viewpoints, both serious treatises and fiction stories.  I encourage you to look over the items I have online by going to my Writings Index Web Page. 





[1] For an encapsulated history of the UNIVAC on the Web, see the Wickapedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNIVAC_I. UNIVAC is a registered trademarks of the Unisys Corporation.  A hardcover history of  the early days of UNIVAC from a first-person perspective can be found in A Few Good Men from UNIVAC, by David E. Lundstrom,  Replica Books, October 1997, ISBN: 073510010.. 

[2] Perhaps the modern era of informatics started with Howard Aiken at Harvard University in the late 30s and early 40s.  See http://www.thocp.net/biographies/aiken_howard.html.  Aiken brought the author into his lab as a PhD student in 1956.

[3] For a quick outline on KEROUAC, see the Wickapedia article at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_KEROUAC.  There are many published biographies of KEROUAC.  One of the most readable and popular is Angelheaded Hipster : A Life of Jack KEROUAC  by Steve Turner, Viking Press,  January 1997, ISBN: 0670870382

[4] A simple Internet search will reveal hundreds of items on Prozac® and its social and psychological effects.  For a simple description see http://www.karlloren.com/Prozac/prozak.htm

[5] The Landmark organization’s web site is http://www.landmarkeducation.com/index.jsp . 

[6] “Knowledge Management” refers to a broad stream of work related to how organizations can renew themselves. See the Wikipedia article at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_management.  Two of the best-known recent books on the topic are 1.  The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge, Doubleday, October 1994, 0385260954, and 2. Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management (The Harvard Business Review Book Series) by Peter Drucker, Nan Stone (Editor), Harvard Business School Press,  February 1998,  ISBN: 0875848362

[7] Two books that examines natural substances and lifestyle changes as alternatives to chemical antidepressants are: 1. Beyond Prozac : Brain-Toxic Lifestyles, Natural Antidotes & New Generation Antidepressants by Michael J. Norden, MD. Harpercollins, October 1995,  ISBN: 0060391510, and 2. Natural Alternatives to Prozac by Michael T. Murray, William Morrow & Company, April 1996, ISBN: 068814684

[8] Among the purveyors of smart drugs are SmartBasics http://www.smartbasics.com/ and Cosmic Sales and Marketing Inc. http://www.nubrain.com/.