How the information age will change your life
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer Ph.D.

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You're holding another shiny new copy of our magazine in your hands, and I thank you for that. The magazine was produced with the help of powerful computer systems, the kind of machines that no one thought were possible just a few years ago. Yet, I am also very aware that these very advances in computer and communications technology will some day make magazines like this one virtually obsolete. I am not afraid of that. Progress is good, and we will be ready. However, what not all of you may be aware of is that computer technology has not only changed the way we work and the way we communicate with each other, but it has also already started to change the way people meet each other. All of this is happening at an almost frightening speed. Some people, those who are computer-savvy and aware of the latest trends, will not see this as anything extraordinary. For them it is just progress. But millions of others are being left behind. This editorial may be a strange place for philosophizing about society, but I definitely see an accelerating split of society into information haves and have-nots. The information haves are increasingly using their computers for tasks not even dreamed of ten or fifteen years ago. Millions of people are now banking, shopping, communicating, and doing their work through computers. While postal carriers are walking from building to building, dutifully delivering huge quantities of marginally necessary mail printed on pulp and paper, millions of people have started using electronic mail to communicate with their loved ones and for business, and for many, electronic mail has all but replaced the US Postal Service and even sophisticated overnight services such as Federal Express. Information haves are, in increasing numbers, quitting their corporate jobs that require them to commute to costly, inefficient offices every day to work for companies that came into being primarily because it was impossible for individuals to conduct business without them. Today, fax machines, computers, and the information highway make it almost irrelevant where someone works from. Individuals now have easy access to the kind of computing resources that used to be affordable only to large corporations.

Information have-nots, the people who do not have computers, who do not know what electronic mail, the Internet, or any of the other incredible resources of the information age, are, are falling further and further behind. This is a dangerous trend, and one that our authorities better address soon before it becomes a major social issue.

Another aspect of this dizzying progress is that it has quietly started to change the very way we interact with our fellow human beings. Those who think singles bars are the place to meet will find that is no longer where the major action is. Today, millions of people are on electronic online services every night, talking to each other, making friends, meeting others, and, in the process, forming bonds that can lead to love and marriage. If you don't believe me, radio and TV talk show host Rush Limbaugh apparently just got married to a woman he "met" on CompuServe. Services like Prodigy, America Online, CompuServe, and others, are linking millions of people in one vast "electronic village" where there are no barriers of class, creed, color, age, sex, or size. People meet and share their deepest secrets online. Relationships formed online are often deeper and more genuine than anything that might develop at a local bar or church because of the nature of the medium. Electronic mail is much more suitable for deep, honest exchange of information than almost anything else. And online instant-messaging is conducive to forming very personal relationships quicker than any other medium.

This electronic revolution is sweeping the nation as we speak. It is just happening. People who last year had never heard of the Internet are now on it The impact of all of this is tremendous and what we experience now-bulletin boards, electronic mail, online shopping, etc.-is just the beginning. Already, people who talk online do what people do when they like each other; they meet in person. But instead of having organizations and groups do dances and conventions for them, the electronic villagers arrange these meetings themselves. An article in this issue looks at this phenomenon. The implications are tremendous. If people meet online, get to know each other online, fall in love online, within a few years all the current commercial ventures doing dances and events for large size people and their admirers may be a thing of the past. Groups who are aware of these fundamental changes will grow and prosper; those who don't keep up, or remain blissfully ignorant, are doomed.

Anyway, for the time being you hold a magazine in your hands, and I am sure you'll find plenty to like in this one: two exceptionally attractive large size women share their stories with us, and there is the usual mix of facts, opinion, letters, and fiction that I hope makes Dimensions in its current printed form a unique experience for large size women and their admirers for a while longer...

Editor at Large