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DiploNews – Issue 31 – 9 March 2001

DiploNews – Issue 31 – March 9, 2001

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State Department and IT

In a March 23, 2001 article the Washington Post describes the apparently difficult current situation of the US State Department, especially regarding its outdated and insufficient IT resources. According to the article, currently more than two dozen US embassies do not have e-mail, while numerous staff members, both in the US and abroad do not have Internet access from their desks. The computer system is reportedly "so outdated that Germany and some other foreign governments have begun bypassing American embassies because it is easier to e-mail Washington directly than American diplomats down the block…" One official reported that "The biggest challenge we have with our information technology overseas is that the computers don't talk to each other…the department runs four separate, incompatible computer systems that cannot access the Internet. Some officials have to keep three computers on their desk so they can use all the systems." The article explains that the main constraint in introducing new technology is money – both for the purchase of equipment and to increase staff in order to free time for necessary training activities.

The whole article is available at website.

Thanks to Stefano Baldi for drawing our attention to this article.

E-mail Archiving

E-mail is the most frequently used web-service. The growing importance of e-mail for our professional work raises many questions, from organisational ones (how to store messages, categorisation, organisation) to legal ones (legally binding status of messages, etc.). An article on the ITNetwork.com website looks at the development of storage and retrieval systems for e-mail. The article begins: "While e-mail is not yet viewed as equivalent to paper, its widespread use and increased legal standing means a permanent record of electronic correspondence is increasingly required." The article addresses current corporate attitudes towards e-mail: "Companies have yet to recognise that even though e-mail is so immediate and apparently so easily deleted, it is in fact a permanent record."

The whole article is available at website.

Thanks to Dalibor Milenkovic for drawing our attention to this article.

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