Technology may have lessened our dependence on it, but downsizing it would carry a massive cost
In his book The Road Ahead (1995), Bill Gates wrote:
The computer was our toy. We grew up with it. And when we grew up, we brought our toy with us. Now the computer is in our homes and in our offices. It has changed our lives and it is changing them again, because now the computers are coming together to make a new system. In this system, computers all over the world are beginning to work together. Our computers will be our telephones, our post office, our library, and our banks.
Whatever the impact of information technology on telephones, libraries, and banks, it's the post office that's had the greatest challenge in adapting to the Web. (Gates seemed to expect, at one point in the book, that post offices like libraries could become public computing centers.) It's hard to be nostalgic for mailing checks, or to bemoan the decline of junk mail. But even the most die-hard electronic enthusiast must acknowledge that there will always be some paper documents that must be delivered, and many other products most economically delivered by postal services or private organizations like them (usually at significantly higher prices), even to and from Redmond, Washington and Palo Alto. So the fixed costs of the system remain and must be paid for by a shrinking base, leading to a reduction in service levels that can become a self-reinforcing spiral.
What's less apparent to IT people, though, in their zeal for transformation, is the social capital side of organizations. Not that they reject the concept. When their own companies are challenged by new models like open source, some of them have reacted as though Western civilization itself were at risk.