Return to Nicholas Johnson Main Web page,

Pre-Web Files: Nicholas Johnson Sample Writings

NOTE: The following links are to selected, illustrative writings of Nicholas Johnson in a variety of subject mater areas from the period prior to, or during, 1993-1996 -- including 21 of the syndicated "Communications Watch" columns from the early 1980s.

The history of their orignal posting on the Computer Professionals for Professional Responsibility site is available in the readme.txt file. They became unavailable at that site a few years ago, and were thought lost. A backup set was recently discovered on another computer. They were first posted to this Web site July 24, 2001.

In the early 1990s, when they were first posted, HTML and the Web were only just beginning. That is why they were posted as .txt files, available by ftp transfer. Rather than convert them now into fancy Web pages, they have simply been left in their original .txt format. Partly that's for nostalgic reasons and partly out of sheer laziness.

There are, of course, some changes.

1. Please note that the e-mail address referred to throughout ( is no longer active. Nicholas Johnson's current e-mail address is

2. Nor are the documents still available from their original site,

3. The Nicholas Johnson bibliography files are not included here. They are now located at Thus, the links to documents begin with the listing of columns, after the "biblio" section, below.

4. Nor are the chapters from Nicholas Johnson's book, Test Pattern for Living, included here. The entire text of that book is now available from

5. Because updated Nicholas Johnson's photos and long bio/cv are available elsewhere the old ones are not linked from here.

Aside from those items, the rest are available as links from this page.

What follows, then, is for the most part substantially as it appeared in the early 1990s.

-- Nicholas Johnson, July 24, 2001

Original date: May 27, 1993; Latest revision: March 26,

Note: Individual files are listed below within the
sub-directory in which they will be found; within that
sub-directory they are listed alphabetically by filename,
followed by a rough indication of the size of the file.

They include:
mass media

SUB-DIRECTORY: \njohnson [the sub-directory in which
these sub-sub directories are found] Contents: sub-directory
titles; contents.txt (this file) and readme.txt (introductory

Contents: the current draft of a lifetime bibliography of
writings, television, radio and speaking appearances, broken
into (currently five) files of manageable size

Filename: biblio01.txt
Size: 92 K
Title: none
Date: June 10, 1995
Description: 1 of 5 files containing portions of a full
bibliography; contains contents, introduction, books and

Filename: biblio02.txt
Size: 85 K
Title: none
Date: June 10, 1995
Description: 2 of 5 files; "Communications Watch" columns,
FCC opinions

Filename: biblio03.txt
Size: 55 K
Title: none
Date: June 10, 1995
Description: 3 of 5 files; speeches

Filename: biblio04.txt
Size: 50 K
Title: none
Date: June 10, 1995
Description: 4 of 5 files; Congressional testimony, television
and radio

Filename: biblio05.txt
Size: 41 K
Title: none
Date: June 10, 1995
Description: 5 of 5 files; appendices (this online contents.txt
file, Judge Brown and Justice Black opinions, personal bio)

Contents: selections from the 1982-1986 nationally
syndicated column, "Communications Watch."
Note: Users are encouraged to begin with the explanation
and overview contained in colintro.txt

Filename: animals1.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Human Capacity
Date: October 12, 1986
Description: animals have capacities for which we can only
dream, and design

Filename: bankmath.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Making Change
Date: March 24, 1986
Description: calculators and computers may be eroding our
simple math abilities

Filename: bigger01.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Bigger Isn't Always Better
Date: July 4, 1983
Description: reaching AT&T by phone illustrates the
advantages of small companies

Filename: colintro.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Sample Columns: An Introduction
Date: June 11, 1995 Description: an explanation and
overview of the columns in this sub- directory

Filename: elizapgm.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Eliza
Date: August 11, 1986
Description: the transcript of my "conversation" with a
computer program

Filename: gadgets1.txt
Size: 8 K
Title: Holiday Electronics; Summer Electronics
Date: December 11, 1986; May 20, 1985
Description: two columns having fun with the range of
useless electronic gadgets

Filename: gramclok.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: My Grandmother's Clock
Date: February 28, 1983
Description: a 100-year-old swinging pendulum clock
introduces the difference between analog and digital

Filename: hamradio.txt
Size: 9 K
Title: How to Become a Radio Ham; How Radio Amateurs
Help Us
Date: August 16, 1982; August 23, 1982
Description: descriptions of amateur radio as a way of
getting an understanding of the new electronics in our lives

Filename: infoage1.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Information Age
Date: January 1, 1987
Description: the final column

Filename: infopoor.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: The Phone Bill's Going Up
Date: December 20, 1982
Description: a discussion of the gap between "information
rich" and "information poor"

Filename: jesustv1.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Jesus' Publicist
Date: December 23, 1985
Description: could Jesus get a spot on "The Tonight Show"
today without a publicist?

Filename: junkie01.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Are You an Electronics Junkie?
Date: July 19, 1982
Description: the addictive qualities of the electronics

Filename: kidselec.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: December 30, 1985
Date: Electronic Toddlers
Description: youngsters seem to master the electronics world
their elders fear

Filename: lawnchar.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Portable Communication is For All
Date: July 26, 1982
Description: you can take communications with you -- even
to 16,000 feet in a lawn chair

Filename: losthist.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Lost History
Date: September 16, 1985
Description: the rapid evolution of electronic data storage
technology may mean that future generations will not have as
much access to today's data as we have to yesterday's print

Filename: nowork01.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: There's No More Work to Do
Date: September 5, 1983
Description: what do we do with the people, now that the
machines are doing all the work?

Filename: politics.txt
Size: 9 K
Title: How They Sell Us Back Our Air; Free Air Time for
Date: September 20, 1982; September 27, 1982
Description: the role of electronic media in corrupting

Filename: projcens.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: TV's 10 Best Censored Stories
Date: August 2, 1983
Description: a glimpse of some of what you can't see on TV

Filename: reality1.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Television and Reality
Date: March 22, 1982
Description: how mediated experience is eroding our ability
to distinguish fantasy from reality

Filename: tornado1.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Telecommunications Tornado
Date: March 15, 1982
Description: the opening column

Filename: zapping1.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Zapping Commercials
Date: October 1, 1984
Description: how the channel surfers are giving advertisers

See: sub-directory: oped, below

SUB-DIRECTORY: massmedia
Contents: broadcasting and other mass media policy

See also: sub-directory: telecomm, below

Filename: aintinfo.txt
Size: 36 K
Title: The Nature of Information
Date: 1993 [December]
Description: the introduction to the Aspen Institute-Northern
Telecom Institute for Information Studies' 1993-1994 Annual
Review: The Knowledge Economy: The Nature of
Information in the 21st Century

Filename: autonmed.txt
Size: 62 K
Title: An Autonomous Media
Date: May 4, 1994
Description: This paper was prepared for the May 4-7, 1994,
session of The Aspen Institute Communications and Society
Program, in association with the Duke University and the
Carter Center of Emory University, Commission on Radio
and Television Policy Working Group on Radio and
Television Autonomy and the State. It is, in effect, a basic
primer on the reasons for, and consequences of, the First
Amendment's principles in the operation of U.S. media, and
was prepared for, and addressed to, the Former Soviet Union
members of the Working Group.

Filename: etcfraud.txt
Size: 11 K
Title: Frauds and Facts: Broadcasters As Public Trustees
and Audience Network
Date: May 13, 1991
Description: reprint in ETC.: A Review of General
Semantics ("winter" 1991-92) of a handout used during
testimony before the House Subcommittee on
Telecommunications and Finance setting forth the
rationale for broadcast regulation

Filename: fairdoct.txt
Size: 19 K
Title: "With Due Regard for the Opinions of Others"
Date: August 1, 1988
Description: Article published in California Lawyer
explaining, and putting the case for, the FCC's "Fairness

Filename: nitelin1.txt
Size: 22 K
Title: The Battle Over Home Shopping Stations
Date: June 23, 1993
Description: transcript of Ted Koppel's ABC Nightline
program; issue: applicability of "must carry" cable rules for
all-commercial "home shopping" broadcasting stations;
including participation of Nicholas Johnson

Filename: troystat.txt
Size: 12 K
Title: Televised Violence: A Road Map
Date: April 28, 1994
Description: This was prepared as a discussion guide for the
Troy [Alabama] State University Annual Spring Symposium
on "Violence on Television" in which Nicholas Johnson
participated. The discussion guide is designed to help clarify
thinking and direct meaningful panel discussion by sketching
the full range of possible topics and issues that are sometimes
addressed under the general heading of "televised violence."

Contents: a single file, a sample script from The New Tech
Times television series

Filename: nttscrpt.txt
Size: 27 K
Title: Script of The New Tech Times Program Number 113
Date: unknown; fall 1983/spring 1984; first uploaded to
sub-directory June 11, 1995
Description: an illustration of the PBS 28-part series in
which I participated as "contributing editor and host" for the
two seasons 1983-84

Contents: various opinion pieces, primarily newspaper
columns, appearing on "op ed" pages or elsewhere

Filename: ipcvisac.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Interest builds in small print
Date: June 5, 1992
Description: Iowa City [Iowa] Press-Citizen business page
column explaining and characterizing Visa card calculation of
interest as fraud

See also:

Contents: biographical and other personal writings and

Filename: hstruman.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Remarks to the Members of the National YMCA and
Government Assembly [Public Papers of the Presidents.
Harry S. Truman, 1952, p. 448]
Date: June 26, 1952
Description: Transcript of remarks of President Truman to
the Hi-Y Youth and Government Assembly, 1952, with
introductory note of explanation for the inclusion of this item.

Filename/s: njphoto1.jpg
Size: 59 K
Title: none
Date: June 12, 1995
Description: a black-and-white, scanned photo of Nicholas
Johnson taken December 1994; it is not of terrific quality, but
one must, in fairness, consider what the photographer, Jon
Van Allen, and scanner, HP ScanJet Plus, had to work with.
For the user's convenience, although provided here in jpg
format it can also, upon request [], be
provided in bmp or gif as well. Those formats have not been
used here simply as a concession to the storage space they
require, 316 K and 263 K respectively.

Filename: njresume.txt
Size: 16 K
Date: June 12, 1995
Description: Nicholas Johnson's most current resume/bio/cv

Filename: riteword.txt
Size: 25 K
Title: Searching for the Right Word: The Semantics of
Heterosexual Relationships
Date: March 1979
Description: Placed in this sub-directory for want of a better
place to put it, this article was prepared for ETC., the journal
of the International Society for General Semantics (the
national board of which includes Nicholas Johnson). To put
it in simplistic brevity, general semantics deals with the
relationship between the language and the behavior of the
human species. This article explores the reasons for, and
consequences of, the remarkably limited (and imprecise)
vocabulary we humans have for describing
other-than-marriage relationships between opposite-sex

Contents: political commentary, proposals

Filename: crgbclin.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Bill Clinton is not sleeping on the job -- but are you?
Date: January 30, 1994
Description: Cedar Rapids [Iowa] Gazette op ed column
titled by author: "Ask Not What You Can Do To Your
President," argues that media and public are too quick to
criticize president, too slow to play active role as citizens of

Filename: crgpbfin.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Needed slogan: "It's public financing of campaigns,
Date: March 21, 1993
Description: Cedar Rapids [Iowa] Gazette op ed column
advocating public financing of Senate and House campaigns
should be first priority

SUB-DIRECTORY: pubhealth
Contents: University of Iowa Institute for Health, Behavior
and Environmental Policy; public health; health enhancement
and disease prevention

Filename: crgchhea.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Serve kids first, then get back to greed
Date: August 22, 1994
Description: Cedar Rapids [Iowa] Gazette op ed column
advocating that if overall health care reform cannot be agreed
upon Congress should at least pass health care protection for
children and pregnant women

Filename: dmrpbhea.txt
Size: 7 K
Title: The non-medical aspect of our health crisis
Date: November 6, 1992
Description: Des Moines [Iowa] Register op ed column
advocating "health care" reform needs more focus on
prevention and public health

Filename: firearms.txt
Size: 27 K
Title: A Public Health Response to Handgun Injuries:
Prescription -- Communications and Education Date:
May/June 1993 Description: article in an American Journal
of Preventive Medicine [Am J Prev Med 1993;9(suppl
1):47-51] special supplement on firearm injuries from a
public health perspective; focuses on potential preventive role
of mass media and education

Filename: pcsuetob.txt
Size: 2 K
Title: Suing the tobacco industry is a solution
Date: July 11, 1994
Description: Iowa City [Iowa] Press-Citizen Letter to the
Editor debating assertion in earlier editorial ("Our View:
Suing tobacco companies is wrong course," Iowa City Press
Citizen, July 6, 1994, p. 11A), and arguing that Senator
Harkin's proposal that tobacco companies could be sued for
costs of illnesses related to smoking simply (and properly)
shifts the costs to those who profit from addictive,
illness-creating substance

Contents: telecommunications policy commentary

See also: /massmedia/aintinfo.txt

Filename: ccbelatl.txt
Size: 12 K
Title: Interview with Nicholas Johnson, Visiting Professor,
University of Iowa College of Law, Former Commissioner,
Federal Communications Commission
Date: October 25, 1993
Description: Corporate Crime Reporter interview regarding
views on Bell Atlantic-TCI proposed merger

Filename: cfptrans.txt
Size: 59 K
Title: Transcript of Freedom, Fun and Fundamentals:
Defining Digital Progress in a Democratic Society
Date: March 10, 1993
Description: transcript of address to The Third Conference
on Computers, Freedom and Privacy in San Francisco,

Filename: copkillr.txt
Size: 7 K
Title: "Cop Killer" Telcos
Date: November 1, 1994
Description: Educom Review, November/December 1994,
"Trends&Forecasts" section commentary, advocating that
telcos shareholders will be disadvantaged by phone
companies transmitting information services owned by telcos
over lines controlled by telcos.

Filename: dmrrdkil.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Road kill along the information highway
Date: February 1, 1994
Description: Des Moines [Iowa] Register op ed column
raising concerns about "information superhighway" hype and
underemphasized public policy issues

Filename: elecsupr.txt
Size: 26 K
Title: Television in the Electronic Supermarket: The
Confusion of Interests An Introduction to the political
economics of the Superhighways
Date: June 7, 1994
Description: Text of remarks presented to "The Cologne
Conference" (Cinemathek, Internationales Fernsehfest Koln)
in response to an invitation to address the suggested title,
above, and three issues: telecommunications goals of Clinton
Administration, goals of the global mega-firms in
telecommunications, and the public interest -- what are the
users going to get out of this? A German language version
of this text was published as: Nicholas Johnson, "Die
Verwirrung der Interessen: Fernsehen im elektronischen
Supermarkt," agenda: Zeitschrift fur Medien, Bildung,
Kultur, Juli-Oktober 1994, pp. 20-24.

Filename: ipcjunkp.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Aggressive strategy needed to end junk phone calls
Date: November 23, 1992
Description: Iowa City [Iowa] Press-Citizen business page
column proposing strategies for dealing with telemarketing

Filename: jefferso.txt
Size: 30 K
Title: Jefferson on the Internet
Date: December 1994
Description: Federal Communications Law Journal article,
from an issue celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the
Communications Act of 1934, putting the case for the
separation of content and conduit in telecommunications
common carriers. 47 Fed.Com.L.J. 281-290 (December

Filename: rnbeltci.txt
Size: 4 K
Title: Letter to Assistant Attorney General Antitrust Anne K.
Bingaman from Ralph Nader, Nicholas Johnson, James Love,
Jeffrey Chester and Jon Motl
Date: October 19, 1993
Description: letter requesting Justice Department opposition
to proposed Bell Atlantic-TCI merger

Filename: wired695.txt
Size: 6 K
Title: Free Speech on the Internet
Date: June 1995 issue, Wired magazine
Description: expression of concern about the potential for
censorship on the Internet

Filename: year2000.txt
Size: 28 K
Title: Communications and the Year 2000
Date: 1970
Description: A late-1960s/1970 effort to forecast the trends
in telecommunications, computers and mass media that would
still be applicable 30 years in the future

Contents: full text of 1972 Bantam paperback book, Test
Pattern for Living

Filename: ch00.txt
Size: 26 K
Title: Various
Date: 1972
Description: the entire text of Test Pattern for Living is
contained in these files, from front cover to back cover. This
file contains all the material that comes before Chapter 1:
cover, opening leaf, title page, copyright information, table of
contents, Mason Williams' foreword, and the introduction.

Filename: ch01.txt
Size: 17 K
Title: Mass Communication and Mass Disintegration
Date: 1972
Description: the relationship between mass media and society

Filename: ch02.txt
Size: 23 K
Title: The Corporate State
Date: 1972
Description: the role of business in shaping individuals'

Filename: ch03.txt
Size: 12 K
Title: The Television Business
Date: 1972
Description: "television" is about much more than

Filename: ch04.txt
Size: 19 K
Title: Caution! Television Watching May Be Hazardous to
Your Mental Health
Date: 1972
Description: the process of creating "needs," to be filled by
advertised products, may create psychological problems that
would not otherwise exist

Filename: ch05.txt
Size: 35 K
Title: Life as an Alternative I
Date: 1972
Description: the available alternatives to the conspicuous,
consumptive lifestyle promoted by TV

Filename: ch06.txt
Size: 42 K
Title: Life as an Alternative II
Date: 1972
Description: some specific suggestions on combatting the TV

Filename: ch07.txt
Size: 12 K
Title: Antidote to Automobiles
Date: 1972
Description: the adverse consequences of a transportation
system based on internal combustion engines, and the
alternatives offered by bicycles

Filename: ch08.txt
Size: 19 K
Title: Working in a Corporate State
Date: 1972
Description: corporations show little more respect for
workers on the job than for viewers in their homes

Filename: ch09.txt
Size: 16 K
Title: Voting in a Corporate State
Date: 1972
Description: the search for alternative politics, as a part of an
alternative life

Filename: ch10.txt
Size: 5 K
Title: Conclusion
Date: 1972
Description: a final couple of pages

Filename: ch11.txt
Size: 30 K
Title: Various
Date: 1972
Description: although this file seems to be a "Chapter 11," it
is, in fact, a catch all for all that follows the Conclusion: a
bibliography, endnotes ("Acknowledgments"), credits, sources,
"about the author," and the back cover.


Return to Nicholas Johnson Main Web page,