Leaders on Y2K Preparedness Gloomy Over Drop in Public Interest

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According to a number of leaders in the Y2K community preparedness movement, public worry over the issue has faded, and they attribute the change in large part to federal government public relations efforts.

Tom Atlee, founder of the Co-Intelligence Institute, who has written widely on the social implications of year 2000-related computer breakdowns, has observed a recent 'collapse' in public interest.

Dan Torhjelm of Y2K Expos in Seattle, which puts on presentations for the general public, says 5,000 people came to a Y2K expo in Spokane, Wash., last November and even on Super Bowl weekend 4,000 people attended a Seattle expo. But a similar event in San Jose, Calif., in April attracted hardly anyone.

The group has since canceled all its summer shows, said Torhjelm, and will gear up again in the fall. 'We're getting feedback that people are not as concerned as they used to be,' he said. 'The media slant now is that everything is OK.'

The Y2K community preparedness movement sprang to life in mid-1998 with groups forming in cities and towns across the country, including one that encompassed the entire island of Kauai, Hawaii.

Their meetings attracted growing numbers of people who were interested in preparing for possible Y2K disruptions at home and in their neighborhoods. Leaders reported that morale, enthusiasm and hope were high. Then in March 1999, the entire community preparedness movement seemed to disintegrate almost overnight.

A Bloomington, Ind., event aimed at small businesses, scheduled for April 23, was canceled when only 14 people signed up. Organizer Will McCracken said groups sponsoring the event, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Bankers Association, 'couldn't even get their own people to show up.' According to McCracken, small-business owners he spoke with told him 'Y2K wasn't a problem, or they hadn't gotten around to it yet.'

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