Friday, September 21, 2007

The Tyranny of Techies

I would be the first to admit that much of what our culture has become is because of our advanced technology. But I am beginning to think that the love of technology just for the sake of technology is supplanting the love of money as the root of all evil. There are many of us who have computers, do email, surf the web, and that is all we do. There are others who are far more invested in not only using technology but in pressing its use, even when unnecessary, on other applications. Many school districts are actively requiring that teachers learn an entire slate of computer applications. Some of these such as email and gradebooks are necessary. Others are not. There are some applications that a classroom teacher will never use. And yet because it is required, proficiency is also expected. This is also going on in our businesses and communities. Many seniors are getting shut out of community access because they don't know how to use computers and let's face it, after a certain age, many just don't want to learn. This is also going on in industry. When you have a boss who demands reports that are so lengthy, so complex that they get in the way of doing the job, is that use of technology really improving the bottom line? People who don't actually have to do those tedious reports, but just command that they be done, have no idea the amount of work involved because when they have such reports, they hand it over to their subordinates or secretaries. I can see knowing certain programs if you are an engineer or an accountant, but if you are in customer service or sales, the constant quest to create technological easter eggs for an increasingly unnecessary function eats up time that would be more efficiently done on the job. I think this comes from the college grads of the 1980's who majored in computer science and thought computers would solve all our problems. Well its twenty five years down the road and we really don't have a paperless society because we still have to print everything out-even the powerpoints we present at meetings. Technology is a wonderful servant but a cruel master. Ask anyone who has an insufferable IT manager or a hinky connection to their server. And we have become so reliant on it that we cannot function without it. We know more about network interface than we know how to discuss problems face to face with our co-workers. Sorry, but this smacks more of Brave New World than of the Bright Future we were promised. So back off the cell phone, power down the PC, light an old school fire in the fireplace and have a conversation for a change.

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