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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
Metro Atlanta newspaper readers were recently treated to the news that venerable company NCR (think National Cash Register of yesteryear) had conducted its annual stockholders' meeting only over the Internet. No executives on a stage, no stockholders auditorium-sitting as an audience. (NCR, by the way, has its national headquarters in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth, just like Paperitalo Publications.)

This may have been a novel happening to most of the newspaper readers--but it's not so unusual nationally. According to TheCorporateCounsel.net blog, such virtual shareholder meetings are a trend, with 53 companies holding them online-only last year. It is a trend that is turning into an avalanche.

Everyone with a computer connected to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is used to sending and receiving emails and getting game-of-the-day scores. I might point out that email through a desktop computer is decreasingly important to the process these days. Millions of people have turned away from their big computer screens and virtually disconnected the telephones on their desks in favor of handheld devices that have made bigtime inroads into digital communications. These people may be also sitting in their cubicles and doing research into how other companies or other mills in their own company's embrace are dealing with a certain vexing paper chemistry or engineering problem.

The Internet offers the quick and easy possibility of group-thinking papermaking problems with every chemist or engineer in a company's far-flung operational facilities. There are dozens and dozens of host software companies eager and clamoring to help you get started.

I recommend saving yourself some time by going to my beloved Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Your first stop might well be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_conferencing. For a sort of general explanation of the whole ball of wax. Next you might click into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_conferencing_software. This latter link displays the features and capabilities of many, many service providers.

I have to sign off now. It's time for our Paperitalo Publications weekly online editorial conference. See you next time.

Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at chuck.swann@taii.com.

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