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I was ready to write off today because earlier I felt under the weather. Now, after lolling about in a daze and reading to my toddler, I’m feeling a bit better. The best part about lolling about was instead of focusing on news related to television delivered via WiMax, I was able to read the 18 pages in this week’s Economist devoted to how mobile communications are affecting our lives. It addresses just about anything you can think about, from architecture for nomadic workers to the unintended conversations you may have had with a stranger, who unbeknownst to you, was speaking on a Bluetooth headset. I suggest you read it.
For me, the most relevant article focused on constant connectivity and how that affects people’s personal and work life balance. The general consensus was that different people handle it different ways (although I like that Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun, insists on two hours of “rolling around time” with his sons in the evening before getting back to work.)
My worry is that with constant communication and a social norm tending toward multitasking with work, play and our family lives, that a whole chunk of the population gets discounted or disenfranchised.
People like me, who leave at a certain time on most days and who don’t check their email/blogs/Facebook accounts except for once or twice on the weekends seem to be in short supply. And while people often talk the talk about family time being important, I’m amazed at the pitches I get for breaking news sent to me at 9 or 10 at night for news that will go out in a few hours or early the next morning.
I question why they would think I’m working and what they are doing working at that time. If it weren’t time sensitive news, I would consider it a function of their lives and schedules, but somehow thinking I might respond anywhere near that time is crazy. So this “all-work-anytime” culture is a problem in my opinion, because it expects a rapid response at any time of the day or night, and also breaks down an accepted time and place when business can be conducted. I doubt that is sustainable, and already is driving a lot of stress.
The moral? Turn off your CrackBerry, step away from the computer and take some time to read the articles, and think about what an always-on nomadic culture will mean for you. Then decide how you choose to participate in it. I’m choosing to turn off my computer now.