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Optimistic Vision of Physical Environments

      The above-mentioned book The Three Boxes of Life has a subtitle - And How to Get Out of Them. After documenting the difficulties of living in each of the three boxes and of moving easily from the education box to the work box to the retirement box, Bolles suggests how we may get out of them (Figure 3).

      In the few years since he wrote the book, electronic technology has developed to a point at which in may be able to help him pry us out of those boxes.

      Let us turn now to the more optimistic scenario, in which the potential of electronic technology to help us lead more integrated lives is realized. How can our new information-processing tools be used to pry us out of our three life boxes and, more relevant in this context, out of the three physical boxes in which the specialized activities of learning, working and playing are located?

      In the information society, the three "boxes" can be strongly influenced by the transportation/telecommunications trade-off. An anecdote may be helpful in introducing this topic. In the early 1970s, a friend of mine visited Marshall McLuhan. Over lunch, McLuhan said casually, "executives drive to the office to answer the telephone." When George passed on this off-the-cuff remark when he got back, he triggered a 6-hour discussion. We all knew that many business people spend many gas-guzzling, air-polluting, time-wasting, ulcer-creating hours commuting and that they spend many of their office hours on the telephone. However, it took the genius of McLuhan to put those two facts together and point out that they had a perfectly good telephone at home.

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