Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Paradigm Shift"

I believe it started in the Nineties, that decade of grunge, dotcoms, and the Dow. Now, here we are, surrounded by endless gizmos which are supposed to make our lives simpler, yet we appear to be more stressed than ever. Why is this? Is it the endless drill of checking to make sure that no critical messages have arrived, responding to those we have to, and deleting all the Viagra and penny stock ads that we receive on our Bluetooth-enabled PDA's while sitting in stop-and-go traffic? What is this we have created? This ain't Nirvana -- they were in the Nineties, if you recall.

I'm as much a gadget fan as anyone -- in fact, I've bought five iPods for the family since 2004. But iPods offer a pleasant distraction, not an intrusion, and they're not that difficult to operate. They really require very little attention other than the right-brain kind. What I'm more concerned about are those devices which inundate us with information, much of which requires left-brain attention -- you need this! -- are we late? -- get this thing ASAP! -- where are we on this? -- "24/7" -- can I get back to you? -- is this in my space? Oy, veh!

When I began working, the most common method of information dissemination in the office was the traditional memo. Writing a memo required thought, organization, then action. The action consisted of typing the thing up (or getting it typed up), then distributing it by hand to everyone's desk. If the info didn't appear in a memo, chances are it would be verbally communicated. Excuse my use of the term, but if ever we were in the midst of a paradigm shift, it is now. We have people sitting in adjacent cubes emailing each other. Truly, this is somewhat insane, or at the very least, wasteful of satellite hops.

But who am I to judge? I sit here checking my email, listening to my third generation iPod, and waiting for the next polyphonic ring tone to jolt me back into 2006. I guess it isn't all bad, as long as I can get up and walk once in a while.