| Since then, every organization whose mandate has anything to do with either transportation or telecommunications seems to have conducted a study on the transportation/telecommunication trade-off. They all see it as a challenge - the former group as a threat/challenge and the latter group as an opportunity/challenge.|
It is an idea whose time has perhaps come. Now that the telephone receiver is being supplanted by terminals, the telephone system can be used to communicate with computers as well as with people. It has been predicted that such telephone/terminals will outnumber traditional handsets by the year 2000. Computers are lousy conversationalists but are very well informed. People who need information to perform their work can now collect much of that information by "letting their fingers do the walking". It is therefore now possible to "compute" to work. The modern interpretation of the transportation/telecommunication trade-off is "sell your car and buy a computer".
It is important to distinguish between delocalization (the distribution of places and, hence, people) and decentralization (the distribution of power). The transportation/telecommunication trade-off permits delocalization but not necessarily decentralization. Indeed, the evidence suggests that telecommunications contributes to centralization. Captains of ships and ambassadors used to have considerable autonomy. Telecommunication permits wars to be waged by admirals on shore and peace to be negotiated between leaders in capitals, with the people in the field merely following orders from headquarters.
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