Computers Become Management Tool

by Todd Wellington

In many ways, Lyndon is still a small Vermont town that retains many of its charms from years past. It has covered bridges, a quaint little bandstand, and it still lists "weigher of coal" as an official town position.

But take a peek inside the town offices or the public library and you will see a very modern charm, the personal computer.

The personal computer isn't just a $3,000 word processor anymore, it is a multi-faceted tool that can be used to perform countless functions in an efficient, integrated way.

The latest function a computer can perform has nothing to do with writing or math or pie charts. The computer can now show you the world.

The Internet, a complex collection of linked computers developed in the 1960s by the Department of Defense to aid its research facilities, is now accessible to anyone sitting in front of a personal computer equipped with a modem.

Originally, the Internet supported only plain text, but with the development of a programming language known as Hyper Text Mark-Up Language (HTML), the Internet can now support pictures, colors, sounds and even video. This new language has given birth to a new way to organize the Internet called the "World Wide Web."

The Web displays these features on the Internet in the form of electronic pages, known as "web pages" or "homepages," which when given an address become a "web site." There are currently millions of web sites providing information on any topic from just about every part of the world.

The Internet can be used to shop for a car, order flower deliveries, learn Swahili, hear a hit song, research Stonehenge, find a library book, ship a package, visit a museum, preview a movie, read The Caledonian-Record, or plan a ski vacation to northern Vermont. Anything goes on the Internet. Lyndon Municipal Assistant David Dill views the Internet as an "excellent management tool," and describes its impact on his office as "very positive and very useful." Dill uses the computer in his office to access the Internet and gather information relevant to the operation of the town. He can access the legislative homepage in Montpelier and instantly download a copy of proposed legislation. He can send e-mail to countless government employees. He can review insurance policies from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns without making a phone call, explaining his needs, and then waiting two days for the U.S. mail to arrive. He can just navigate through the VLCT web site until he finds the information he is looking for and print it out in his office.

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