For a vacation without interruptions from the office, you might want to scratch Jacksonville, Fla., off your list. The Sunshine State's northernmost city has become the first major U.S. resort town to build a wireless network serving its riverside tourist district. So it's official: There's nowhere to duck your e-mail.
Users of Blackberry pagers have long had this problem, but Jacksonville extended it to laptop-bearing folks. The city spent less than $20,000 on a high-speed network dubbed WIZ, for Wireless Internet Zones, that can serve almost any laptop or handheld in the tourist-laden riverfront strip popular with boaters. About 4,000 people have logged on since WIZ went live in August.
City and corporate leaders hope the network will go regionwide, attracting high-tech companies to town. In the meantime, you can swim but you can't hide--from work. First, MBA students shunned jobs at startups last spring to go B2B and B2C ("back to banking" and "back to consulting"). Now, Massachusetts Institute of Technology students have persuaded administrators to change the name of the school's two-year-old e-business curriculum to Digital Business Strategy. The program's 90 students "were worried about how they would be perceived in the job market," says MIT spokesman Steve Buckley.
MIT wasn't the only school to get dot-com happy in 1999: By spring, 2001, 25% of U.S. business schools had e-commerce majors for MBAs. Others poured e-business courses into existing curriculums.
Now the dot-com bubble has burst in academia, like everywhere else. MIT's e-business enrollment is down from 140 last year. Top schools are offering fewer e-courses--the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School has six, down from 10 two years ago. Instead, courses like marketing, finance, and strategy now include Web topics. "E-biz is not something separate," says Raphael Amit, director of the Wharton Electronic Business Initiative. Now he tells us. Before you blow all that dough around the holidays, are you sure you won't be fired? The economics Web site Dismal.com rates your chances with its new "Layoff Calculator," which uses forecasts by region, industry, occupation, as well as company stock prices, to tell you if you're O.K. or roadkill. Compare your odds of losing your job by the end of next year to the national median of 5%.
Programmer, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.: 4.6%
Programmer, Seibel Systems, San Mateo, Calif.: 5.3%
Tech Banker, Merrill Lynch, New York: 7.9%
Cutstomer Service Rep., Amazon.com, Tacoma, Wash.: 8.2%
Engineer, Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto: 8.4%
Manager, Compaq, Houston: 9.8%
Production Worker, Ciena, Linthicum, Md.: 13.4%
Assumes each worker's performance rating was average.