Recently, while enjoying a sunny afternoon with some friends, a few baby boomers I know were relating some experiences that seem quite pertinent to the subject of how communication is or will change. Young Aaron, the son of a guest, was at a loss when told to call home. It seems our young guest had never had to use a rotary telephone. Confronted with this icon of past technology, Aaron went away with a new experience to relate. Another guest, upon hearing of Aaron's plight, related a similar experience.

It seems that Diane had given her son a watch for Christmas. It seems that this wristwatch, complete with hands and a face was foreign to this young child who has had the time electronically flashed at him in numeric form for all of his life, without need of knowing how to tell time conventionally. So it seems in this day and age, that the old continues to be replaced by the newer and faster technology. We in turn are caused to learn newer and faster ways of dealing with these new technologies. Technology grows exponentially, meaning that the more it grows the faster it grows, yet in dealing with this technology we can in turn learn how to decrease our work time while increasing our productivity.

We have definitely come a long way from the pony express and telegraph, yet it is not so long ago that we do not still use their predecessors, surface mail and telephones. With current technological advancements it is now possible to communicate across the planet instantaneously, thanks to wide-band technology, fiber optics, and satellites all of which make possible this possible. With the invention of the printing press by Gutenburg in 1434, and subsequently the first book in print, he can be credited as the father of the information age. Accompanying the birth of the information age came an explosion of new technological advances designed to improve how we communicate.

These advancement have had many glitches and shortcomings which have been improved upon again and again. in the years since, yet they were always time consuming, Overcoming these time constraints has been the goal of assorted scientists and inventors. Painstakingly they moved forward with limited progress until the twentieth century. With the birth of the twentieth century we see a drastic increase in advancements, which have grown by leaps and bounds, spawning the communication age As we welcome the paradigm for the future, "the communication age", we usher in all the goodies that accompany it, namely networking through computers, facsimile communication, cellular telephones, and television shopping. These advancements have all been designed to save us time and help us communicate with one another. All of these advancements ultimately, are tools of commerce within the free enterprise system, and elements of the "wired world", which in turn encourage our interaction and participation.

While the next generation will with, without a doubt, find themselves lost without these technological wonders, we at the other end of the sphere find it all confounding and unsettling. Our inability to keep up with advancements means that we will be left behind while those who find there way will succeed The next logical step is for commerce to penetrate into the Internet. What makes the Internet near perfect vehicle for commerce is that it is capable of linking so many people together all over the world. No matter how small your niche your product or service is aimed at, chances are you'll find some interest because the market is so vast. Right now buying and selling on net is still a new phenomena, and there are a lot of unanswered questions about how it all will shake out. The most important questions revolve around security and how to maintain privacy on the net.

What is meant by security in this context is the risk of someone hacking into your transaction and stealing you credit card or bank card and PIN number. While it is possible for this to happen on an unsecured site, all of the new generation of Internet browser support security encryption protocols which make theft that more difficult in the extreme. These security-of-commerce concerns seem to be overrated. As companies contemplate their next move, they are using these concerns as a stalling tactic to investigate and prepare for the day when all this becomes reality.

Anyone who wants to can set up shop on the Internet at relatively low cost, with existing, widely used security software. On many levels the risks are far less than those of the everyday storekeeper who has to deal with break-ins, theft from shoplifters, scam artists, kleptomaniacs, counterfeiters and all the other hazards of retail business. On the buyers side, sending your personal information over a secure Internet hook-up is definitely safer than giving it over the phone. Most of us have done this from time to time to make purchases, like buying airline tickets or making hotel reservations, without concern of how easy it is to exploit this information.

The real issue here is not the security of the money, but the information attached to it. In other words, the really important issues revolve around privacy and not so much about security. When we travel around the Internet we scatter bits and pieces of information about who we are, where we go, and what we do, With networked computers as involved in our lives as they are, it is relatively simple to keep track of every transaction we've made. Whatever purchase we make that involves the use of a debit or credit card, ultimately ends up on computer.

Pulling this information together makes for some juicy marketing profiles that help businesses target their markets in a profit effective fashion towards consumers who are most likely to respond to their blandishments, subsequently these profiles are worth a lot of money themselves. If one wants to make a confidential transaction, you can always use cash, yet cash and cheques are relic of a antediluvian era. Both cash and cheques are expensive to produce and maintain. Therefore, the trend is moving towards electronic money and away from cash. Money is just information anyway, so why not just digitize it to make it easier and less expensive to move it around on computers. Right now, the only purchase you can make insuring total anonymity is using the Bell Canada "smart chip" phone cards, which replace a microchip set it plastic for the coins needed to use your local pay phone, not so long ago.

With privacy in mind, these cards seem the prototype for the kind of electronic cash we will see within the next few years. The problem with credit and debit cards is that they attach your personal information to every transaction, which seems an unwarranted invasion of privacy. These mediums of exchange also raise the cost of goods because of the paper work and administrative costs involved to maintain them. But is it too far off before you can load up your "smart chip" card with cash from your bank account and spend the money on anything you like without fear of winding up on someone's database.