Editorial Cartoon

Listen to this: Let's not get paranoid about e-mail

Shawn McCarthy does a nice job of outlining some of the issues surrounding the use of instant messaging services in his column 'Agencies that permit IM services will face third-party concerns' [GCN, Nov. 20, 2000, Page 33]. I'd like to pose a few more questions.

While e-mail has become pervasive, how does it compare to telephone conversations in use and purpose? Does it meld formal and informal conversations? If so, what role do informal conversations have, and how do people maintain them as a valuable method of communications?

Is this perhaps where IM falls in the electronic-communications world we are just beginning to enter? What happens when an e-mail or instant message carries voice communications, as we are beginning to see?

It seems like people are struggling with concepts that may be simple. In our paranoia over misuse of e-mail, it sometimes seems as if we forget how it has emerged as a valuable supplement to the telephone and more than a supplement to paper documents.

At the same time, we are seeing paper and voice forms of communication folded into

I'm inclined to think that the evolution of technology would be simpler if people stopped to consider the purposes of their communications and trusted other people to make good decisions about how it is used.


Operations engineer, highways

and local programs

Washington Transportation Department

Olympia, Wash.

Wanted: good information

Columnist John McCormick is right on track with his views on technical books [GCN, Nov. 6, 2000, Page 36]. Computer and networking technologies change almost daily, and support personnel and administrators face a battle to stay current.

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Not only do they need information to provide support for the systems they have, but they also have to be familiar with alternative or emerging systems to know if they are a good fit for their organizations.

That's not to mention being able to address questions regarding the potential usefulness of a technology somebody saw in a magazine.

Having a select list of key books available in the office is important; each person's list would be different.

With the cost of books, an online subscription is an outstanding alternative. To date, I've found two useful sources: www.informit.com and www.books24x7.com. I'm sure there are several others, and I'd be interested to know what others find useful.


Mission systems flight commander

347th Communications Squadron

Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Overworked and undertrained

Your special report, '2001: Year of the human factor,' was an excellent article and nailed most information technology personnel issues on the head [GCN, Jan. 8, Page 1]. But one issue that you really didn't address was training.

I am frustrated with trying to get additional training to further my knowledge and be even more effective in my job. The cost of IT training far exceeds my department's current budgeting capabilities. Recently, my organization authorized two classes toward a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification for this year.

This is the first time management has tried to provide IT workers with something. However, all requests had to be received immediately or we would lose the funding.

My organization is not alone. We are overworked, understaffed and often can't afford to be gone from the work place to attend training.


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