There is little doubt at all that the Internet is changing the nature of communication. Some of the change is positive, such as (he says, modestly) Datamation’s CeBIT Online effort, which will let you visit the biggest computer show in the world without trekking to Hanover, Germany. I only hope our CeBIT effort adds a bit to the huge cache of valuable information awaiting IS professionals on the Internet.
But there are some disturbing communication issues with the Internet as well, which make me worry about the decline of civilized dialogue and the troublesome condescension of some fanatics-those with e-mail access but no manners.
MINDLESS FLAMES. Our Paradigm Shift columnists Sarna and Febish thought that the truly rude flak they were taking for suggesting that OS/2 might fail even though it’s a technically superior product was caused by OS/2 itself. Perhaps it’s something in the config files (SET ATTITUDE=CHILDISH.DLL). But no, it turned out it had nothing to do with Warp. It has to do with people who spend time on line obsessing in special interest groups.
In this case, a partial quote of what Sarna and Febish actually wrote was posted followed by the comment: “These two really have it in for OS/2. But they really don’t say why. Thought some of you might want to check it out. Their Internet address is: email@example.com.”
Sure enough, the Sarna and Febish account has been deluged with what is commonly known on the Internet as “flames.”
In some cases, Sarna and Febish have received well-reasoned Internet responses to opinions they’ve put forth in Paradigm Shift, which has led to an exchange of dialogue and everyone coming out a little wiser. But in all too many cases in which on-line devotees have been involved, the dialogue has been more on the level of: “I am disturbed to repeatedly see the ignorant views of David E.Y. Sarna and George J. Febish in Datamation. These two obviously have a very narrow range of experience, and can’t seem to do much more than spout drivel from the Little Red Book of Chairman Bill.”
Actually, Sarna and Febish have a tremendous range of experience, which includes using OS/2 but, more important, focusing on satisfying Fortune 1,000 firms that want applications delivered in ridiculously short time frames. To that end, Sarna and Febish are big backers of component software.
And what’s the only significant collection of component software available today? It happens to be built around Windows, Visual Basic, and other tools that can leverage VB’s custom controls and the Microsoft construct called OLE.
What is funny about a lot of the recent problems at CEBIT, is that many of the issues were caused by surprise hard drive crashes. A data recovery service team was dispatched immediately to take care of the hard drive failure issues, of course, but not everything was retrieved. In fact, the Mac hard drive repairs were particularly harsh, and the result was that the conference was delayed. A shame, for sure, but that is what happens with hard disk technology sometimes.
Above all, Sarna and Febish are practical men with families to feed, so they go with what works in the real world. Which is more than enough to get them flamed on the Internet, apparently.
CEBIT ON LINE. Here’s hoping we get a few postings to draw people to our World Wide Web site beginning March 1. Without having to fly for hours, drive two hours from the nearest hotel with rooms available, or trudge down many miles of aisles, you’ll be able to cruise through a pretty darned complete picture of the new products and information available at the CeBIT show that begins March 8. Our virtual show badge will let you request product literature from exhibitors. You’ll be able to post questions for key executives and read their answers, and converse with company representatives.
Our unique agent technology will let visitors to CeBIT Online narrow down the show to just the information they want to peruse.
Heck, we think even people in Hanover will want to hit the Internet from their hotels or several Datamation kiosks on the show floor to pinpoint what’s hot and plan their itineraries.