Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Too Busy to Be a Cyberspeaker

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Too Busy to Be a Cyberspeaker

Article excerpt

When Republicans took control of the US Congress three years ago, Newt Gingrich seemed destined to become the nation's first Cyberspeaker. The Georgia Republican loved to talk about leading America into the Information Age, about laptop computers for every school-age child, and about making the whole universe of government documents accessible on the Internet.

While the Speaker still holds fast to those objectives, it turns out that, like a lot of people, Gingrich is more talk than action when it comes to personally taking advantage of the technology available in today's information-based network.

Although he has a personal computer and a laptop, he uses them only for word processing. He does not browse the Internet; his daily schedule is handed to him on paper each morning; he conducts meetings the old-fashioned way - in person; and he does not carry a cell phone, though many of his top aides do. "I think it's a major mistake on our part," Gingrich said of his office's failure to set a higher technological standard. "We're trying to set up a planning department that would do that." Asked whether he ever uses the Internet, he said, "Not really." The third most powerful politician in America has a ready excuse for lagging behind the times, and it may be reassuring for mere mortals to know that it is not unlike the one invoked by techno-dummies everywhere: He said he is just too busy. "You have to understand my schedule," Gingrich said in a recent interview. "I do almost nothing but meet. I am in meetings 16 hours a day. I work close to 100 hours a week. I'm either giving a speech, sleeping on an airplane, or in a meeting." In his Capitol office, the Speaker has a three-year-old Compaq Desk Pro, with 48 megabytes of RAM, a typical machine for Capitol Hill. He uses the WordPerfect word processing program and Lotus Notes e-mail software. …

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