intercepts

aperless contracting Here we are in the second week of 2000, and as far as I can determine, the Defense Department still uses paper by the boxcar to execute contracts, despite promises by John Hamre, deputy secretary of Defense, that the entire process would be digital. (See story, Page 68) Now, I know that man had a serious Year 2000 preoccupation, but one still wonders when the Pentagon will even come close to meeting this goal.

I recently ran across an article in The Financial Times with the headline "Revolution? What Revolution?" The article begins with an interview of a truck driver leaving a fish-and-chips greasy spoon in Grimsby, a small town on the east coast of England. Asked about the Internet, the driver responded, "Don't ask me anything about it, 'cause I ain't interested. I get sick of hearing about it. Web site this, dot-com that — it drives you up the bloody wall."

The underlying skepticism of the Internet, according to the article's author, Richard Tomkins, is doubt that the Net will profoundly change people's personal lives. Tomkins reminds us of technological changes that have profoundly affected how we live. Clocks dramatically transformed our relationship with our environment, factories completely changed the way people worked, and transportation advances brought us physically closer. Tomkins argues that the Internet has done none of these things, and at least for now, people aren't suggesting ways it might.

He cites a passage from Bill Gates' Business @ the Speed of Thought, about how the Internet will transform our lives. Gates' example involves a family having an online chat about the location for a reunion, performing electronic polling to narrow down options and electronically calling up tour options and airfares. When the system sees a family member watching a rodeo on television, it automatically informs the group about rodeo-watching possibilities at the preferred reunion destination.

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