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What do you think of social networking? Is it a valuable tool through which your employees can tell their friends and acquaintances about the benefits of your product or service and of working for your company? Or is it at best a waste of your employees' time and at worst a tool that could destroy the reputation of your business?
Today's young people can hardly believe there was once a time when most homes in the neighbourhood didn't have a telephone. Because of the scarcity of cabling' even those who did have a phone might have had to share with another household on what was called a "party line". Which meant that if they were using their phone you couldn't use yours until they were through.
Imagine Googling your home to find out if you have left your passport on the kitchen table. Or receiving a text from your freezer to tell you which items you need to restock. Or being tweeted by your spin-dryer to say that your clothes are still wet and need an extra cycle.
Twelve years ago, an article appeared in The Seattle Times under the heading 'Is frugality dead?' The piece, by Kathleen O'Brien, argued that 'the coupon-clipping, sale-seeking, thrift-store-shopping American is rapidly becoming an endangered species'. A robust economy, argued O'Brien, was making 'grandma's and grandpa's thrifty ways seem pointless and antiquated - a charming artefact'.
Imagine the scene. The snow outside is 3ft deep and traffic is at a standstill. But inside the office an army of robots is wandering the corridors, 'chatting' one-to-one or holding meetings just like a human workforce.
Selling diapers on-line was never supposed to work. After all, how could an e-commerce company make money by quickly shipping such bulky, low-margin commodities to customers across the USA?
Many people who work in medium-size or large organizations have examples of a 'water-cooler moment' - the time when a problem they have been working on for some time is suddenly resolved by a chance conversation over the drink dispenser with a fellow employee.
Seamless care when a patient moves from one doctor or from one area of the country to another, speedier treatment, fewer medication errors, improved patient safety and lower costs - those who favour large-scale computerisation of health records are not short of strong arguments to back their case.
Business Week ran a cover story in 1990 about the future of Silicon Valley. The article examined whether the USA needed a high-technology industrial policy to bolster the competitiveness of the country’s information technology and electronics industries and combat the threat from south-east Asia.
Computers and computing are such a normal part of the domestic lives of most of us these days that we think little about the technology behind many of the gadgets that make our lives so much easier.
Medical and food aid are the most pressing requirements of people caught up in catastrophes such as famine, war and flood. But there is also, usually, an urgent need for reliable emergency-telecommunication services. Conflicts and emergencies often lead to massive civilian displacement and separated families, with affected people unable to find help and loved ones. This can happen at just the time that the telecommunication system is broken.
Richard Lambert, head of the Confederation of British Industry, was reported to have said that BT was in ‘strategic disarray’ when Ben Verwaayen took over as chief executive in 2002. It certainly appeared to be in much better shape in 2008, when Verwaayen announced his last set of results before stepping down as chief executive.
It took ten years to build, 60,000 people and an investment of £4.3 billion. It came into operation on budget and on schedule. So why was the opening of the new Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow airport not greeted with universal acclaim? Because plans were unveiled – and then retracted less than 24 hours before the first flights began using the terminal – to fingerprint all passengers travelling through it.
What happened to the prediction that the Internet would break the stranglehold held by undemocratic leaders over communication systems in their countries? Dickie (Financial Times, 13 Nov 2007) reports that, as far as China is concerned, Communist leaders have found a range of ways of censoring what appears on websites and e-mails...
Closely arranged shelves tightly packed with the classified and codified accumulated knowledge of mankind in areas from archaeology to art, meteorology to medicine and physics to psychotherapy - ah, the academic library; the physical centre of most university campuses and the metaphorical centre of student life for generations. Could it really be under threat from the electronic revolution?