Net propaganda has this junkie crying, 'Enough, already!'

I'm sick of the Internet--a startling confession from a self-professed junkie of the
Internet. I've come to this point after being bombarded for so long with so much
propaganda about the Internet, it's become more than I can stand.


I confess. I look at www.nbc.com or www.cnn.com instead of simply
turning on my television set to get my daily news fix. I go to www.missionimpossible.com
to read the latest about Tom Cruise's movie. I still haven't figured out how to get
popcorn while browsing the movie World Wide Web sites. But even if that worked out, I fear
the butter would gum up the keyboard.


Everyone and his brother has a Web site. I can't even browse for information anymore
without being delayed by obnoxious advertisements whose bitmaps take a minute or more to
load at 28.8 kilobits/sec. I actually have to wait around to be offended.


Last weekend, I wanted to book a flight to Chicago. I went to a travel agent as always.
"You know you can do this on line, right?" was the response.


So I had to find the airline's Web site and register on-line, and then go to the
airline office to pick up my "electronic ticket." Funny thing--my
"ticket" was printed on the same old paper form.


Did I miss something here?


The government certainly isn't immune to the Internet gold rush. More and more agencies
are experimenting with putting their entire business models on- line. That certainly fits
into the present administration's push for a more open and accessible federal government.
Some, however, find it disconcerting to think that whatever meager person-to-person
contact we once had is in danger of extinction.


A recent announcement by the Federal Security Infracture Program brings home this point
and offers tremendous opportunities for an increased presence of the Internet in
government.


FSI seeks to further Vice President Gore's vision of giving all Americans the ability
to conduct secure transactions with the government over the Internet.


The 1993 National Performance Review report on "Re-engineering through information
technology" stressed the need for a secure information infrastructure. The FSI
program was chartered in April, 1995, due to recommendations from the National Information
Infrastructure Task Force and the Government Information Technology Services Working
Group.


The FSI program's goal is to coordinate and oversee the development of an information
security infrastructure to support electronic commerce, electronic messaging and support
services to users. Three projects are under way.


The Paperless Federal Transactions for the public project will establish a public-key
pilot focused on Web technology. This security infrastructure will permit agencies to
deploy Web applications to the public using standard security services (identification,
authentication, access control, integrity, confidentiality and non-repudiation).


Another effort, the so-called civilian Fortezza project, will build on the National
Security Agency's Fortezza PC Card used for military encryption.


The Defense and Energy departments also will collaborate on a project to implement a
paperless temporary duty travel system throughout DOD. You can find out more about these
projects at http://www.gsa.gov/fsi


Yet another security-related project underway is the Federal Consortium, sponsored by
the National Science Foundation and National Computer Security Association. Even though I
work for NSF, I'm not involved with this project and, in fact, just found out about it
while browsing the Web.


From the site at http://skydive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/home.html,
  I discovered that many other agencies are members of the consortium: the Census
Bureau, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Technical Information Center, NASA,
the National Biological Service, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of
Standards and Technology, the National Institutes of Health, the National Library of
Medicine, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Security
Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Education Department and the Geological
Survey.


Quite a list! Where will all of this end? I don't know. But the next time you hear a
loud scream, it's just me going through another one of my "sick of the Internet"
days.


If you share my current uneasiness about this strangling presence in our daily lives,
please e-mail me at the address below and share your miseries.



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