Published on September 13th, 2011 | by drkkr1
Log in or win-win?
It is a truism that modern technology has revolutionized the way we carry out day-to-day business. Keeping in touch is a whole new universe in itself, and it has radically enhanced the way we receive and view information, data and content, not to mention the extraordinary dimension of entertainment, which employs convergent technologies in rapidly evolving manners.
My Blackberry brings me a freedom that allows my professional life to run parallel to my physical movement. The sheer freedom of holding in one hand a gadget that give me access and ability to do work from anywhere in the world. (I wouldn’t mind a waterproof Blackberry, for use while in the shower!) I travel extensively and as far as my work goes, I don’t travel at all because I am always available. My BlackBerry allows me to remain in constant contact with my team, keep abreast of world news, chat with my pals, poke my friend and speak with my family-all from one device. It’s fantastic!
My iPad has added a new dimension to everything. It’s true, the one word that Apple uses to describe the iPad experience: “immersive”. I love that I can just hand my iPad over to my kids while they employ it to play and learn. The electronics that separated people now bring them together. Alvin Saldanha, Chief Creative Officer of Idea Domain, a social media enthusiast and ‘watcher’, points out what is now a well-known fact: by the end of 2011, facebook will have a billion subscribers, which means 1 in 6 people on Earth will be on facebook.
‘Convergent technologies’ have metamorphed daily life in fantastic ways. Not too long ago, it was just print, radio and T.V. that carried messages to us. But multiple platforms today pinpoint audiences, and make niche delivery a breeze. The sheer profuseness of new platforms is beyond thrilling: just take radio: radio on radio is passe, because it is now available in your computer, your mobilephone and on your handheld computers. So is television. Speaking of which, there now more cellphones in the world than people, 6 billion people are now using 10 billion mobilephones; almost 10 for every one mobile in existence just a decade age.
Is there a price to pay in human terms? Yes there is: from the zombies of gaming to the gadget-buried executives, personal interaction has taken a beating. But that is now being addressed in inventive ways. Intel, the worl’s leading maker of the chips at the heart of devices, the quintessential high-tech firm, has experimented with “Quiet time,” in which, for four consecutive hours every week, no e-mails or phone calls are allowed. It has also tried out “no e-mail days” and told its employees that they have 24 hours-not minutes-in which to answer internal messages.
Indeed, the concern about what technology is doing to our heads now rivals our excitement with its progress. Every day, it seems, new afflictions are identified and christened: e-mail apnea, Internet addiction disorder, nomophobia (the fear of being out of mobile phone contact) are reported, and books on silence, on attention and on digital overload have started to proliferate. According to one survey, 28 percent of every working day is lost due to the tsunami of information flowing in. Yet deeper than that is the feeling that all this information has not radically transformed how to make sense of the information and how to use it. We have more and more ways to communicate, and less and less to say.
Writing down more events, meetings, deadlines and to-do lists on my iPhone doesn’t really make me more efficient, it only makes me tense about what remains to be done and guilty when I can’t cross off the entire list. “I am terribly sorry, my iPad ate my homework” just won’t do any more because the truth is that it was “Angry Bird” that hooked me for hours.
So this is 2011 and most of us are wired with all sorts of exciting devices. We’re hooked, they are fun, they’re extraordinarily useful, we can’t live without them. They are wonderful for keeping people connected. Do they make our lives easier? Of course they don’t. They have brought the art of multitasking to new heights, but won’t solve your battle with your disorganization. They limit our attention span at work. They violate our privacy irreplaceable and intimate moments, important conversations or family dinners are interrupted by insistent cellphone calls, text messages and e-mail. Or even tweets.
Managing all these communication channels all day can become our worst challenge, as they consume more and more of our time, instead of saving it. This generation doesn’t knock on doors..! It pokes, text or gives a missed call. We criticize our teenagers for spending so much time on Facebook, but we are just as addicted to our own networks. A friend of mine used to have a “no-screen-week” – no TV, no computer-for the whole family every now and then, for the sake of sanity. Children and parents would read, talk at the dinner table longer, listen to music, go out to see a movie, or do their homework. This would be unrealistic today. But maybe the time has come to invent something else. Like “no e-mail, no-Facebook evenings.”
No one would deny that technology has infinitely expanded our possibilities. But an increasing number of people are wondering why all these tools of connection are leaving us so frazzled, disconnected and alone. It’s only by stepping away form our machines, after all, that we can begin to see how best to make use of them.
Technology may have brought the world to us, now the challenge is to ensure that it won’t take our personal world from us.