A Wish List for the Holidays

Here are some presents to put under the high-tech tree this holiday season.

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Here are some presents to put under the high-tech tree this holiday season:

A new voting system. This one does not have to be that high-tech, but the irony of candidates touting their support of technology while unaware of the low-tech, chad-filled pit waiting to embarrass one and all cannot be missed. The parallel between companies spending millions on marketing while neglecting their infrastructures and candidates spending millions soliciting votes while the voting infrastructure was crumbling is compelling. Nothing could make the recent election less rancorous, but it is time that the much-discussed technologies of positive identification, security and universal access via many devices be applied to fundamental democratic processes.

A set of reasonable expectations. The Ghost of Christmas Past was unreasonable optimism, marked by the expectation that the Web could keep sprouting companies despite lackluster sales and a limited number of customers. This year, the Grinch of lowered corporate financial forecasts is creating a climate of unreasonable pessimism. The promise of technology is the promise of productivity, and products and services that fulfill that promise will continue to receive funding and added investment.

Wireless products that are compatible. Never have so many companies affixed the term "wireless" or "mobile" to so many products. Wait until the marketing programs championing universal, high-speed, easy access meet the user realities of devices sunk in the "TDMA, CDMA, WiFi, Bluetooth" acronym swamp. This will not be pretty.

A mandatory course—Accounting 101—for all past and present dot-com execs. Too late for most of them, but at least it will let them see what they missed.

And a round of applause for the high-tech companies that spend time and energy giving back to their communities. It is, after all, the holiday season.