The Circuit

Being inventive

While waiting for Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman to join them in a conference call Oct. 17, a group of high-tech executives apparently didn't realize that reporters were on the line too. One of the techies began to grumble that Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has been getting a bum rap about claiming to have "invented" the Internet. Gore, in fact, merely takes credit for freeing up R&D money to help develop cyberspace, not the actual invention that has sparked the digital revolution.

"Can't they just drop it?" asked high-tech guru Vinton Cerf, one of the principals on the line and one of the guys responsible for a little thing called TCP/IP. A little while later, Cerf mentioned that he'd been asked if he was running for president and replied that he was "the other guy who invented the Internet."

Seen and heard

As the director of the President's Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities, Rebecca Ogle is an outspoken advocate for the disabled. Just last week, she was invited to speak at an Agriculture Department conference on how technology can be used to help disabled people.

Ogle wheeled to a podium that towered over her as she sat at her wheelchair. "Are there any engineers here?" Ogle asked. "When I come back next time I want a podium I can sit behind and still be seen." Then, parked beside the podium, she delivered an address on the importance of accommodating people with disabilities.

Getting personal at work

A growing number of workers are using the Internet for personal business during their workday, according to a study by @plan Inc.'s Institute for Online Commerce. More than 70 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed said they sent e-mail for personal reasons and 57 percent said they use the Internet at work for personal research.

However, 70 percent also said the Internet has made it easier to work from home, and 43 percent said they regularly check e-mail when on vacation.

"Our once-accepted definitions of a regular business day and personal time are now blurred," said Mark Wright, president and CEO of the Connecticut-based firm. "The Internet and new technologies are linking people to their jobs for much longer hours, and so there is an apparent trade-off with may workers. People may feel if they work from home and check e-mails on vacation, they can occasionally log on from the cubicle to shop or browse the Web."

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