A look back before we go forward

As we publish our last issue of civic.com this month and begin working on Government E-Business, which makes its debut in September, we thought you would enjoy seeing how much things have changed since those first issues — as well as how much they've stayed the same.

Some of the quotations excerpted below sound like voices from a distant past — when Internet connectivity was hardly the rule, and the digital divide was not yet a serious concern, let alone a well-known term.

Some speakers address problems for which solutions seemed just around the corner. Yet many of those problems — the legacy systems, the information silos — are with us even today, on the cusp of being solved, as always.

It's hard not to wonder whether the next five years will bring any dramatic changes. In relaunching civic.com as Government E-Business, we're betting that they will and that the Internet will be the primary agent of change. Here's one last look back as we head into the future.

"For most communities, the information superhighway lies in the future, a reality only in government white papers and marketing promises from telephoneand cable TV companies."

Miles Fidelman, president of the nonprofit Center for Civic Networking, from "Need the statehouse Internet-ready? Consider your electric company" (November/December 1996)

"It's imperative that some communities embrace technology, or they will get passed by just like some got passed by in the '50s and '60s. The state government has a role in finding out what is out there and what the gaps are."

Jane Leonard, community development manager for Minnesota's Office of Technology, from "Should states fund citizen tech programs?" (November/December1996)

"There needs to be a much better marriage between current technology and how it is applied to serve the public. Too often cities and counties are missing the key individual with the vision to make that happen."

John Kost, former chief information officer for Michigan, from "Paying Client/Server Dividends in Yakima Co." (February 1997)

"In the past, there have been several major kiosk projects around the country that were information-only and, sometimes, just stand-alone information. Of course, they created stale, out-of-date information almost as quickly as they were rolled out."

Sandi Ludwig, director of government service delivery for IBM Corp.'s Global Government Industry Group, from "Public-access solutions: Reinventing the information kiosk" (April 1997)

"[In] states where people have existing investments in different platforms, somebody has to incur costs to change and be able to share data. A lot of people would rather have a root canal than deal with that situation."

Bruce Westcott, executive director, Vermont Center for Geographic Information Inc., from "GIS moves into the enterprise" (March 1997)

"The public sector is moving toward consolidation and outsourcing. I hope the private sector will now step up to the plate and come forward with solutions that take an 'all or nothing approach.'"

John Thomas Flynn, CIO for California, from "John Thomas Flynn's California network nightmare" (April 1997)

"With our inability to retain and attract newer employees, what are we going to do when we lose all that history?"

Curt Pederson, CIO for Oregon, from "Turn-over troubles: Keeping your IT staff intact" (July 1997)


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