Hard drive to the future
Print is dying at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
As proof, I offer a link to an online document saying so. Starting March 9, WisDOT will require contractors to submit online bids only through the Bid Express Web site.
Save for a few contracts that will be exempted from the digital requirement, the department’s bidding transition from paper to pixels is complete.
The department used to have monthly meetings where builders—haggard from a night of preparing bids and a drive to Madison—gathered in a hotel ballroom to drop off bids. They sat around, chewed the fat while drinking weak hotel coffee and watched WisDOT agents open each bid on-stage and read through the contractors’ bids.
It wasn’t a party, but it was at least a social gathering.
Then, in 2000, the department started requiring contractors to submit their bids on a disk, as well as on paper. So many builders embraced the Bid Express Web site that WisDOT no longer needed a hotel ballroom for the monthly meetings. The handful of builders who showed up in person could meet at a state office building.
Those meetings are also going the way of the dodo, and the spectacle of a WisDOT employee reciting bids out loud is officially history. I hope everyone enjoyed it when they had the chance.
The department will post its bid results online and, if anyone is still backward enough to request it, the department will print out the bid tabs so people can pick up a hard copy at WisDOT headquarters.
This is how the world turns into the World Wide Web. There is no question the online system is quicker, cheaper and easier. But, even though I only attended the hotel bid-opening parties a few times, I’m going to miss the human touch.
Sean Ryan, a staff writer at The Daily Reporter, thinks the InterWebs is a series of tubes. You can send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, although he would rather talk to you in person.