This book recounts some events from five years, when the Internet and the World Wide Web became a part of my everyday life, for business and pleasure. I hope to have encouraged you to become involved in deciding the direction for the Internet, rather than just being a ``user'' of it. Technological developments are not inevitable and technologists are fallible. There are many choices for us all to make in how this tool will be used for community benefit, as well as commerce.
On-line working is still more of a concept than a reality in most Australian government agencies and businesses. The push paradigm, of sending out information in the hope someone may need it, is still current. E-mail technology applied at this simplistic level is creating a problem in many organisations, by drowning staff in useless information. This could be changed to a pull paradigm: providing a pool of information people can share, search and discuss, as required. As part of this, the concept of an ``office'' (or a military headquarters) as a group of people at one physical location, at one time, could change. An organisation will become a group of people, linked by on-line resources, to achieve a common goal.
As I was completing this book, I was also completing a change in my working life. After nineteen years in government, including the last nine working on IT policy at the Department of Defence, I have accepted an offer to be a Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, Australian National University. This is an honorary position and I plan to earn a living as an electronic business consultant, author and presenter.
With this career change, I hope to test some of the ideas developed here. The challenge is to interact with colleagues in a virtual environment, find ways for Australian researchers to interact with the business community and convince clients to pay a ``virtual'' consultant they may never actually see.
Many corporations have tried to lay claim to the on-line world and have failed. I hope to build a modest, but credible, virtual organisation by understanding the social, as well as technological, factors.
It will be those of us who participate in the on-line community, who will decide the fate of that community and, increasingly, the world as a whole. Having seen how we got where we are, join me on-line to help decide where our community should, and does go, in the future. You might like to explore some of the links on the web and send me your own suggestions. I would appreciate comments, corrections and improvements, to be added at the Net Traveller web site: www.tomw.net.au/nt/
Tom Worthington MACS
21 July 1999
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Copyright © Tom Worthington 1999.