RFID Needs Insight, Not Scare Tactics - InformationWeek
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Bob Evans
Bob Evans

RFID Needs Insight, Not Scare Tactics

Is RFID a powerful new technology that can help spark business innovation, or is it an intrusive high-tech vermin that should be obliterated, Bob Evans asks.

I've got a quick multiple-choice exercise for you. Please read the following sentence from a column posted last week on the Web site of a well-known and highly credible organization, and then select who wrote it from the four choices following the excerpt.

The quotation: "But in the end, people distrust RFID, I believe, because it forces people to get tagged like a circus bear so that an already overpaid executive can obtain a bonus for cutting costs."

Your choices for who said it:

A) the Electronic Frontier Foundation
B) the American Socialist Party
C) Cnet
D) the Circus Bears Amalgamated Union

Did you choose A? Nah--for as much as that outfit hates free enterprise and technological progress, they always force the term "Big Brother" into such claims. How about B? Nope--while the comrades agree with the general sentiment, they don't use computers yet and aren't familiar with RFID. How about D, the bear lobby? Close, but no toast--they've dropped the term "circus bear" and replaced it with the more socially uplifting "ursine performance artist."

Well, that would leave us with choice C, for Cnet. Yes, folks, Cnet--the computer network--believes that people like YOU who make business decisions about productivity-enhancing technology are "already overpaid" and that RFID adoption is being slowed down because of YOUR greedy and misguided attempts to slash costs with no regard for any consequence except fattening YOUR already-bloated bank accounts. For those perspectives, thanks or other reactions are due to Cnet editor at large Michael Kanellos.

Is this really the level of discussion and debate that RFID deserves today? We at InformationWeek surely don't think so, and that's why for more than two years our unparalleled coverage of this high-potential emerging technology has described in detail the advances and setbacks RFID trials and applications are having in retail, consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, currency agencies, energy, waste-management, transportation, financial services, security, and other fields. It's why we've profiled the exciting efforts at such diverse companies as Wal-Mart, International Paper, Microsoft, SAP, Honda, Eli Lilly, IBM, LegoLand, Wipro, Delta Airlines, Hilton Hotels, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Target Stores, and dozens of others.

And it's also why we're launching an E-mail newsletter plus this new Web site devoted to RFID news, trends, case studies, technologies, research, privacy debates, security issues, and more. This new InformationWeek newsletter is called RFIDinsights and you can sign up for a subscription. As always, we want to know what kind of information you want us to pursue for you, so please send your comments, questions, and suggestions to rfidfeedback@cmp.com.

Here's a partial list of some of the types of stories and topics you can count on finding in the newsletter and on the site:

Savings For Automakers Using Active RFID on Sept. 1, 2004
Target Meets With Suppliers About RFID Plans on Aug. 10, 2004
RFID Meets XML on July 28, 2004
Wal-Mart Plans Next Phase Of RFID on July 21, 2004
Japanese Waste-Management Company Tests RFID on July 19, 2004
India's Wipro Wants Piece of RFID Market on July 14, 2004
Pharmaceuticals Industry Expected To Lead In RFID Tags On Items on July 13, 2004
Microsoft Adding RFID Support To Windows Server Software on July 13, 2004
RFID Company Adds UPS And Unilever To Its Investor List, on July 12, 2004
Delta Turns To RFID To Cut Costs on July 1, 2004
Sirit And Intel To Collaborate On RFID Reader Technology on June 28, 2004
FDA Expects RFID Use To Combat Drug Counterfeiting on Feb. 18, 2004
World Banks Working To Stop Counterfeiting on March 9, 2004

And for a more-complete list of RFID-related stories, go to this page.

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