A friend of the author once visited Marshall McLuhan. Over lunch, McLuhan said casually "Executives drive to the office to answer the telephone". When George brought this throw-away line back with him, it triggered a four-hour conversation. It conjures up a ridiculous image of the executive burning up precious fuel, polluting the atmosphere, and wearing out his stomach lining with ulcers to commute to an office, when he has a perfectly good telephone at home. Now that that telephone can be used to call computers as well as people, the image is even more ridiculous.

      The argument that transportation can be replaced by telecommunications - the transportation-telecommunications trade-off (TTT) - has been expounded for some time. Every journal on transportation or telecommunications has published at least one article on TTT: every organization which has had anything to do with either transportation or telecommunications has commissioned a study on TTT - the former seeing it as a threat and the latter seeing it as an opportunity.

      It is an idea whose time perhaps has finally come. More and more people are trading their cars in for computers. They are tele-commuting - letting their fingers do the commuting. We all know some people who are doing at least some of their work at home, because they now have the means of performing some of their functions without going to an office.

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