online. Not only does it enable small businesses to compete with large companies, but preferential treatment is given to companies that do business with each other electronically.
Looking for a new job or to buy a new home? There are more listings posted on the Web than there are ads in newspapers. Being online also has its financial benefits. You can pay your bills and keep tabs on your 401(k) plan. Online trading can be cheaper than using a stockbroker. Some of the lowest prices for goods, especially hard-to-find items, are found at stores whose addresses end with dotcom.
Just a few years ago, dial-up (through standard phone lines) was the only way to get on to the Net. Online service providers are offering high-speed broadband access via cable modem or DSL (digital subscriber line).
Broadband is more than a technology, says David Angell, author of DSL For Dummies (IDG Books, $24.99). “It changes the way we live, learn, and work, by tapping into the full promise of the Internet” for running a household, managing a business, investing in the stock market, and connecting to friends, family, and clients.
In the meantime, wireless handheld devices, such as your Palm organizer and cell phone, will become your most trusted form of communication. Imagine using a personal digital unit to create a smart map that will help you avoid traffic.
It seems there’s nothing a computer chip can’t do once you slip it into the right place. The promise of tomorrow is that you can access any information — and anyone — from anywhere at anytime within the blink of an eye.
BE AN ACTIVE participaNt in closing the digital divide. Beyond the role of public and private partnerships, everyone has a part to play. Overcoming the digital divide begins at home.
Whereas it is commonplace to have a television set in nearly every room, African American families should have more than one computer — one for mom, one for dad, and another for the kids.
“Technology, computing, and Internet access are a given in my home,” says Al Zollar, president and CEO of Lotus Development Corp., an IBM company. “It is integrated in our lives.” The 23-year veteran, one of the highest ranking African Americans at IBM, cites, for example, that he anticipated his daughter’s phone bills at college would be high. However, it turns out that Keisah Zollar, a 19-year-old student at the University of California at San Diego, uses instant messaging. This way she keeps in touch with her family and friends via the Internet.
“Closing the Digital Divide gap is a crucial agenda,” he stresses, “because we live in a society that increasingly relies on computers and the Internet to deliver and enhance communication.”
But if we’re not plugged in, we can’t play. And if we don’t play, we can’t expect to win. One way you can help ensure that everyone has access to information technology is by getting your employer to donate computers to schools or churches in the area. Volunteer your services teaching computer and Internet skills at