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Magazines > Information Today > June 2004
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Information Today

Vol. 21 No. 6 — June 2004

OPINION
Appreciating What We've Got
By Dick Kaser

We live in a technology-enabled world. Now I know that may not sound like a terribly radical statement, but sometimes it's the obvious that escapes our attention, and sometimes the point is really driven home. I have a perfect example.

As I opened Information Today, Inc.'s Enterprise Search Summit conference in New York a few weeks ago, I noted that ITI had developed and launched an Enterprise Search Center at our Web site. When you go to this center, you can search the combined contents of our publications while test-driving a variety of search engines. (Register for free at http://www.enterprisesearchcenter.com, and check out the engines for yourself.)

Sitting in the audience at the Enterprise Search Summit was Laust Søndergaard, CEO of Mondosoft. Using his mobile phone, he sent a text message from the meeting room back to Denmark. "We've missed an opportunity," he told his staff. He wanted Mondosoft to be one of the engines in our Enterprise Search Center as soon as possible.

Unaware that this electronic exchange had taken place or even that Mondosoft was interested in being part of the Enterprise Search Center, when I checked my e-mail after lunch, I came upon an unsolicited message saying that Mondosoft had crawled all of ITI's sites, and the results were ready to go live in our Enterprise Search Center. The message even contained all the information we needed to complete Mondosoft's listing.

I forwarded the message to our CTO, Bill Spence, who was also working the meeting in New York, and asked if he could take care of this at his earliest convenience.

Lo and behold, when I ran into Søndergaard a couple of hours later at that evening's reception, I was able to tell him that Mondosoft had just been added to the Enterprise Search Center. And that's when I learned from him how it had all transpired, how one event had led to another, and how we had that day, amid our other duties, collaborated almost in real time on two continents to do something worthwhile together.

It's all in a day's work, I suppose. And if this chain of events does not sound as miraculous as it really was, that's only because we're spoiled by how enabled our work has become due to the many communications technologies at our disposal.

Some lament that the universe of Internet users does not necessarily see the benefit of broadband in their homes. (Sixty percent of folks surveyed in recent Pew studies say they're not interested.) Some are disappointed that wireless capabilities are nowhere near ubiquitous or that other techno-glasses are nowhere near half full.

The point is, we're already empowered. And nothing that comes along now is going to as dramatically affect our ability to get things done fast as the core technologies that are already in place—at least for those who live in the U.S., Europe, and other wired cultures.

As we push for ever more speed and greater and greater convenience, that's all well and good. But it's when the rest of the world gets on board that we'll actually see the next big impact and a new manifestation of human empowerment.

As we keep pushing the envelope and riding technology's curve, it's easy to forget how good we've got it already.

All I'm saying today is, take a step back, take a deep breath, and take a moment to say thanks for the marvelous technology that's already in place. Using the tools we have, we're already able to do the virtually impossible. And even when working across oceans and continents, it doesn't even necessarily take overnight.

ITI and Mondosoft just proved it, using nothing more sophisticated than cell phones and dial-up Internet access.


Dick Kaser is Information Today, Inc.'s vice president of content. His e-mail address is kaser@infotoday.com.
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