1994 GOVERNMENT TO
INFORMATION HIGHWAY THROUGH MENTUFACTURING
(AP)-In an unexpected White House press
conference on April 1, Vice-President Albert
Gore announced Microsoft's Bill Gates would
be named director of a new agency designed
to regulate and stimulate the development
of the Information Superhighway.
"If you have a personal computer, chances
are that Mr. Gates and Microsoft Corp. are
already a part of your life," said
Gore during the conference. "In many
cases, the personal computer is the on-ramp
to the information highway, the conduit
through which much of the national intellectual
product of the future will flow.
This intellectual product, or property,
is manufactured, but not - in the conventional
sense - through machinery. Rather, the commerce
of the information highway is the harvest
of the mind, our mental facilities. 'Mentufacturing'
is the word the PR backroom guys-have coined.
Mr. Gates's excellence in the field make
him the logical candidate for a new project
to guide and accelerate the nation's transition
to a mentufacturing industrial base."
Gore went on to explain how Gates, along
with a core consulting group consisting
of telecommunications guru John Malone and
cellular phone titan Craig McCaw, would
make up the industry-government interface
for the agency, tentatively named the Ministry
of Mentufacturing, Organization, Networking
and Electronic Exchange (MO*MONEE).
The ministry is to be located at 2001 L
Street NW, Washington, D.C., alongside offices
of the Business Software Alliance.
The initial mandate of the ministry, said
Gore, would be to work up a plan for the
issuing of Licenses of Mentufactury, which
would become necessary - just as the motor
vehicle operator's license is a must for
drivers - for the operation of on-line services
or the production of intellectual "soft
goods." Gore said that he, along with
Congress, would move briskly toward legislation
requiring Licenses of Mentufactury for all
computer industry and information highway
entrepeneurs by late 1995.
Roger Thrush, an administrative lieutenant
speaking for the absent Gates, who was vacationing
in Hawaii, explained how licensing would
"It really is simpler than it sounds,"
said Thrush. "We envision several classes
of mentufacturing, the primary of which
constitutes existing on-line services and
retail software developers in the Fortune
500. For the most part, this group has already
been granted provisionary licenses with
permanent approval contingent only upon
minor structural and operational changes
which we think will be no inconvenience
For example, most of the captains of the
information industry already have the capability
to suborn their telecommunications feeds
to something we call the Microserve and
Mentufacturing Market Organizational Network
- or MAMMON - backbone, a super-net which
will make the registration of Licenses of
Mentufactury electronic, instantaneous and
"For the small businessman - or millions
of home hobbyists - there will be a different
class of license. This should make it easier
for the government to distinguish legitimate
mentufacturing needs from socially heretical
activity. For example, we would consider
the bulletin board system application for
a Licence of Mentufactury from a member
of the North American Man-Boy Love Association
And this has an added benefit, because
it allows for interactive, non-intrusive
patrol of the information highway, thus
hindering those who would use it for soliciting,
piracy, or the dissemination of private,
sensitive or proprietary information. Of
course, the small businessman with a 5-6
line service will find the legislation transparent,
which should make the cyber civil libertarians
happy," Thrush laughed.
Licenses of Mentufactury will be assigned
tariffs based on a sliding scale beginning
at $500, said Thrush. Fees would go to a
government superfund, controlled by MO*MONEE.
The superfund would be used for federal
employee reimbursement and seed cash for
promising breakthroughs in mentufacturing.
Silicon Valley venture capitalist and ex-Gates
paramour Ann Winblad said in interview,
"Bill has wanted to adopt the mindset
of a true visionary, to take even greater
risks, for a long time. No one can doubt
the scope of his ambition and his great
admiration for Henry Ford is likewise well
known. Like that entrepeneur, Bill wants
to move Americans forward a quantum jump.
Mentufacturing could be the answer for him,
as well as the nation."
"Mentufacturing mania will probably
pique everyone's fancy in the next few months,"
said computer magazine writer John Dvorak.
"It's a great concept, but making it
concrete may take a little longer."
"I believe everyone from education
to industry will rush to go 'mental' on
the Information Superhighway, now that the
Vice President has put this welcome proposal
onto the playing field," said Congressman
Edward Markey (Dem.), also in attendance
at the press meeting.
Gore concluded the press conference by paraphrasing
the Grolier dictionary's definition of "mentufacture."
"To mentufacture is to engage in the
manufacture of the God which resides in
every man: the fruit of the soul, our minds,
ourselves. Thank you ladies and gentlemen."