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In Praise of Constant Connectivity 118

Posted by Zonk
from the i-heart-my-infosphere dept.
An anonymous reader wrote to mention an opinion piece on CNet discussing the realities of living in constant contact with the world at large. The author argues that the ability to connect actually creates time for us that we wouldn't have otherwise had. From the article: "... rather than obliterate our social lives, always-on connectivity and the increased flexibility it brings will allow us to break free from the office and actually socialise more. Sure, you'll be on call at unusual hours of the day, but think about how much more efficient you'll be -- particularly if your most productive hours aren't between 9am and 5:30pm! And besides, all newfangled technology comes with an 'off' switch should you find yourself needing some down time."
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In Praise of Constant Connectivity

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  • Hmmm.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    I'm a freelance web developer.

    I generally do most of my work between the hours of 5:00pm - 5:00am the next morning.

    Without constant connection to the internet, I don't know where I'd be.

    • I'll tell you.

      The welfare office.
    • "I'm a freelance web developer.

      I generally do most of my work between the hours of 5:00pm - 5:00am the next morning.

      Without constant connection to the internet, I don't know where I'd be."

      Eating, watching tele and, most of the time, sleeping, I presume.
      • I think where this is all going is a sort of piece-work approach to work in which people will be 'on call' but they will only be paid for the time that they are devoting their undivided attention to their employer's business, as measured by biometrics. Modern eye-tracking software can sense where one's focus is on a screen, and software plug ins can determine what files are being worked on. This way, employers will be able to weed out their most productive employees from the herd and pay them accordingly, w
  • See, my boss doesn't seem to get it that I'm not on call 24/7.
    • Re:Boss (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fred_A (10934) <`fred' `at' `fredshome.org'> on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:59AM (#14849146) Homepage
      In the work life of a lot of people, being connected 24/7 is now pretty much like being in the office 24/7. Yes, there is an off switch. Using it will just get you scalded because "we couldn't get hold of you like the hundreds of other times the minute we wanted to".

      It certainly won't improve your work life, it just will make you more of a serf.

      The only cases in favour that I can find would be artists waiting for employment and possibly self employed people who can at least more or less set their own rules.

      In our private lives, being in touch 24/7 currently means that for a lot of people, no plans are made any more. Everything is now decided on the spur of the moment. Planning a dinner or a night out with friends is no longer possible. They will wait until the latest minute to see if there isn't anything more exciting going on elsewhere (of course they'll attempt to drag you along). Let's hope the dog enjoys whatever meal it was you cooked for the occasion.

      Here too, not answering the phone (or turning it off) is immediately suspicious ("are you filtering me?"). And can lead to problematic relationship issues with friends.

      Disclaimer: Those are my experiences in Europe, in your location YMMV.

      Disclaimer 2: My cell phone is now off most of the time.

      • Yeah, I'm not required to login to work while I'm not working, but if I want to be able to keep my head above water I pretty much have to. Ahh the wonders of VPNs. *sigh*

        By the way, those advertisements at the top of the screen really suck when you're RDPing in and trying to check slashdot. Pretty much locks my shit up.
        • The ads work completely fine and cause no noticeable lag or lockups for me while browsing over a VNC connection with both the client and server connected to the 'net via standard home DSL lines.

          Perhaps the problem is your choice of an immature and inefficient proprietary protocol for your remote computing needs, not the ads themselves.
          • Oddly enough I get a much better response through RDP than I ever get via VNC.

            Anyway, for my uses, VNC is just not adequate.

            I depend on having my own session... I don't remotely control the keyboard/mouse (I don't know who is at the screen). With VNC, I can just pop in, do what I need, and pop out. In fact, the ability to have two simultaneous sessions has saved my bacon more than once.

            It is also handy to have sound piped through, I like sound as an alternate cue when I'm multitasking.

            Having printers aut
      • > In the work life of a lot of people, being connected 24/7 is now pretty much
        > like being in the office 24/7. Yes, there is an off switch. Using it will
        > just get you scalded because "we couldn't get hold of you like the hundreds
        > of other times the minute we wanted to".

        In fact, it's now written into a lot of employment contracts that shutting off the cell phone or failing to have it with you is grounds for termination.

        > Here too, not answering the phone (or turning it off) is immediately
        • I -still- get messages saying "Pick up the phone, man!" It's voice mail, not an answering machine

          You can use this to your advantage. When that person encounters you later they'll tell you that they left a message and you didn't call them back, and you can reply "Oh, sorry, that must have been the day the tape on my answering machine ran out."
        • > In fact, it's now written into a lot of employment contracts that shutting
          > off the cell phone or failing to have it with you is grounds for
          > termination.

          If you're being paid for being on-call, that makes sense; I am, as part of being a sysadmin, and so getting calls on a weekend (like I just did a few hours ago) to fix problems doesn't bother me, because I am compensated for it.

          Should an employer want me to work 24/7/365 without paying me for it, they are going to get one very unproductive emplo
          • I agree with you in terms of the legal position - if you're being paid for a 40-hr-week, then make sure that you don't do more than 40 hours. However, if you get to the point that on Thursday lunchtime, you've already done 45 hours, and there's a critical upgrade happening on the weekend, which is being planned on Thursday afternoon and Friday, what do you do? If you walk out of the office, switch off the phone and go skiing, what happens on Monday when you get back to work and find that the idiots have set
      • Planning a dinner or a night out with friends is no longer possible. They will wait until the latest minute to see if there isn't anything more exciting going on elsewhere

        I think you need new friends. 24/7 connectivity has the advantage here that if one of the people you invited forgets how to get to your house / the restaurant then it is easy for them to get in touch with you and ask for directions. It is also easy for people to tell you that they're running late, and you should order without them, t

        • It means that I can't say "Yeah, let's do Thursday at 8pm" because it's Sunday morning at the moment, and until about 6pm Thursday I can't say for sure that I'm available. If the plan is for a meal at my house, then that screws up everybody's plans. It means that if you've got a 9-5 job, but I'm supposed to be babysitting for you, and suddenly get called into the office, then my work has called off your personal plans. This work-based lifestyle has consequences which reach out into everybody's social circ
          • So, get a job that doesn't require constant connectivity and 60 hour weeks. You might make a little less, but you'll be contented.

            If you went the system admin route, you knew the responsibilities. 24/7 business means they need you available 24/7. It is cheaper for them to pay you time and a half (if you're that lucky) if something comes up than pay a second guy full-time to be there after hours.

            Of course, if you're not a system admin, and your boss is deciding when you should work overtime, then you REAL
            • I agree completely; if I don't want responsibility, I can work a sewing machine from 9-5. As I am responsible for the design of certain large systems, if I chose to say that "It's 5.30pm, I've clocked off", I wouldn't be doing my job. That is exactly my complaint - the 24/7 connectivity "benefits" are benefits for the employer, not for the employee. I am an employee, and in the 1980s, if I was not in my office, I would be uncontactable (and that would be accepted). Now, I find that I turn up on Monday morn
      • And that's one of the reasons I don't have cell. ;-) The way it is now, even when the "normal" phone rings while I'm busy and don't expect some call I might not take it. If it was important, they will call again.
      • The subject says it all. And I don't do chat, problem solved.
      • ("are you filtering me?")

        Any friend who asked me that, if I wasn't filtering them already, I would start thinking about it. More likely I'm filtering the whole world, because I'm in the middle of something requiring unbroken concentration. (Even looking at the caller-ID info takes a conscious effort; custom ring tones could help here.) Or I left the cell phone by the car keys. Or the battery ran out. Or (in the case of our home phone) 99% of the calls are for my wife, and the answering machine i

      • by dbIII (701233)

        It certainly won't improve your work life, it just will make you more of a serf.

        On the other hand it can save you a trip in to work on a weekend to do five minutes of work. Example -

        The boss calls and describes a problem while he's in at work on the weekend.

        You pause the DVD and bring up a terminal window (cheap linux box + cheap video card with TVout + two keyboards and mice).

        You log in via ssh, get to the system involved, edit the config file and restart the service.

        Continue watching DVD.

        It all really

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 04, 2006 @03:41AM (#14848987)
    No thanks, I'll have the "off" switch and a sterile office, please. I've learned from experience that when something really, absolutley needs *doing*, sitting in a comfortable chair at home, with the Web at my fingertips, is a *massive* distraction.

    That is not to say I am against ubiquitous connectivity - I long for the day mobile Web access is as simple as using a cellphone. With Google, dictionary.org, Wikipedia, various product review sites etc. on hand, making decisions and finding out information while on the move will be incredibly easy - in my *free time*.

    For work though, I don't see "always on" as something as positive.
    • I think "Always On" can be positive, but in retrospect to the position on call. For support, data entry and sales I think that is a great idea. For development...not so good. For example:

      Sales Person A wants to work for a couple hours so they log into the corporate servers at home and answer a few emails. The duration of their login, and what "work" is done is documented to prevent abuse etc, and they are credited with the work (hours, commission etc.). Say they want to go to an early movie...they can check
    • I've learned from experience that when something really, absolutley needs *doing*, sitting in a comfortable chair at home, with the Web at my fingertips, is a *massive* distraction.

      (darth-vader-like-voice)That just shows you lack of discipline.(/darth-vader-like-voice) I'm a telecommuter working from the highly productive comfort of my home in Hawaii while making over 6 figs consulting for the likes of big banks and big geek companies. You CAN work from home, but you must show constant, daily output and

    • "Always on" is only really important in close-coupled, critical events. The problem now with cell phones and other nagging communication technology is that it has created an artificial state of immediacy in some peoples' minds (tragedy of the commons?) whereby emotional, needy wants occupy the same level as important messages.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @03:49AM (#14849005)

    My always-on connection to the internet has been a major help when I need to get to a website in a bind, and I don't have to wait 3 minutes for a modem to dial in to an ISP, and then wait for some page to slowly load. Also my cell phone has proved invaluable in situations where I would have been stuck otherwise.

    But along with that, the old tale of telemarketers and charity seekers calling at dinner time is still a pain (even if you have caller ID, it still is annoying to have the phone ring at such times unecessarily).

    • I use Vonage as my home line, and I have yet to get any telemarketer calls to that or to my cellphone. I suppose it can be seen as a side-benefit.

      I've had zero problems with the Vonage service. (Then again, I pay for extra upload bandwidth from my provider, Comcast, because I'm a heavy Internet user.)
  • by Bazman (4849) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @03:54AM (#14849016) Journal
    I'm sick of having near misses with innattentive pedestrians and cyclists with headphones on and staring into their mobiles[1]. These people aren't "connected to the world at large", they are disconnected from the real world around them. At some point my bike is going to make a connection with one of them as they step into the real world road without looking.

    Baz

    [1] yeah, I've seen cyclists pedalling and texting at the same time.
    • by phirst (683939) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:05AM (#14849041) Homepage
      Worse is the number of people driving pickup trucks around in the state you describe. Chances are, you and your bike are going to come off worse than them and thier truck when they make that connection with you without even seeing you.
    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (bob_eissua)> on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:45AM (#14849124) Journal
      At some point my bike is going to make a connection with one of them as they step into the real world road without looking.

      Look, just stop stressing about it and you'll find you'll lose that flinch reaction. Everybody gets a little tense about their first, but once you've bagged a few it'll just start to come naturally, and then you'll be bowling them over like ninepins.
    • I don't know why your focussed on cyclists and pedestrians. Personally, I've never seen a cyclist pedalling and texting at the same time. I have seen plenty of folks driving and texting at the same time, however.

      How much damage can an inattentive cyclist do to anyone other than themselves? I'd rather be run down by a push bike than a car anyday...

    • Cycling to university in London a few years ago this was a constant problem.

      One morning, I was going through the green lights at the bottom of Putney hill when some moron talking on their 'phone stepped out in front of me (despite the red standing dude sign). I had to brake harshly and steer to avoid him, but since I was going to almost hit the dozy fucker and he still hadn't noticed I decided to make sure he did -- as I passed, I patted him on top of his head and yelled "Pay attention to traffic you stupi
  • As the trainer of a junior soccer team it's impossible to handle all the administrative staff without email and soon this will be also true for web access. So constant connectivity might soon become as important as a phone if not more important.

    O. Wyss
    • Odd, it seems that soccer predates email.

      I've noticed that this artificial necessity is a constant rationalization of technology. "I can't live with out it!", where people have for about a million years, and were perfectly happy, perhaps even happier than we are today.
      • When soccer was invented, it was a very different world than now. Sure, it is a rationalization, but it is much more comprehensive than it seems. When someone is rationalizing the necessity of technology in their lives, it is not usually disingenuous; the modern world requires the IT tech, doctor, EMT to be on call and reachable by some telecommunications device or other. The social expectations have changes with the integration of these technologies in society, and it is not dishonest to say it is very
        • I'm amazed what my simple statement about soccer could induce of insights on technology and its influence on the live. I'm quite happy to live now and possibly have some small influence on the technology of the future generation. Hopefully they like their lifes as much as I do mine.

          O. Wyss
  • rather than obliterate our social lives, always-on connectivity and the increased flexibility it brings will allow us to break free from the office and actually socialise more. Sure, you'll be on call at unusual hours of the day, but think about how much more efficient you'll be

    I can't say that always on "connectivity (i.e. a cell phone ringing at me, with someone wanting something at the other end) can do anything but hinder efficiency. Myself, and many programmers I know, are at peak productivity wh
    • It depends on whether you mean outbound or inbound connectivity. Being able to look up things on the web quickly, send emails / make calls to clarify questions etc. (Outbound connectivity) can be a huge boost to productivity. Being able to be interrupted by emails, telephone calls, etc. (Inbound connectivity) can have a significant detrimental on your productivity. In general, email and IM aren't as bad as telephones, since they don't require an instant response, but they can still interrupt flow.
  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:05AM (#14849040)
    I think--hang on, I need to get my water from the microwave--it is great--just a minute, I need to take this call--because you can get so much--dude, I just an email with a chucknorrisfacts.com link--done--hold on, my instant message is flashing--with all of this--oh shit, my palm pilot alarm just went off. Now what was I saying?
    • It's funny and insightful. Take your pick. clueless
    • Good point, I think we-- hang on, just have to go to the local well..-- I think we take technology too-- one sec, I think the postman just arrived.. damn this mail is from ages ago, it's not even useful any more-- anyway, we don't need all this bloody-- bah, can't talk; I have to catch a train to speak to a colleague in the next town across.
  • The 'off' Switch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:17AM (#14849066) Journal
    "And besides, all newfangled technology comes with an 'off' switch should you find yourself needing some down time."

    20 Minutes Into The Future:

    Janie Crane: "Edison... an off switch!" [maxheadroom.com]
    Metrocop: "She'll get years for that. Off switches are illegal!"

    --Max Headroom Episode 16, "Blanks" [maxheadroom.com]
  • I know someone who almost never leaves his house now. All he does is stay on chat boards until all hours of the night.

    Is he connected to the real world, or disconnected from the real world?

    Of course, here I am on Slashdot at 4:12am NYC time, but then again, I'm at work. My friend however, is so internet addicted, I think he has given up his job.

    Is the future about people living on welfare so that they can IM each other 24/7? That doesn't sound like a future I want anything to do with.

    It's funny, but now tha
    • I get teased a lot at school because I guess I fit the geek stereotype - overweight (hey, exercise is difficult when you're disabled), no girlfriend, and yes I spend quite a bit of time on the computer.

      Aside from all that I also do exercise in my wheelchair, go swimming, go to the gym and generally get way from the machine. There has to be a line between work and play - a lot of my work is on the computer.

      In my IT class we were asked if 24x7 availability was a good thing. It's not. Again there has to be a l
      • Ahh, the difference between you being connected to the world and the world being connected to you. Computers, work and play, there's a difference? for a webhead infonut, they tend to be identical (still happily cell phone free, shit, I've been known to not bother answering my landline for days at a time).
    • So you only ever surf the web at work... balanced life maybe, but not sure about the work.
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:29AM (#14849096) Journal
    There are both pros and cons to the "constantly connected".

    Pros:

    * I don't have to be in the office to actually "work". I am hardly there anyway as my work is supporting POS in a retail environment.
    * I travel around a lot and am constantly in touch with others.
    * I can schedule doctors, dentists, mortage, and other personal appointments whenever I feel like it.
    * I can see a hit movie in the middle of an afternoon if I want. I saw Spider-Man that way and it was worth the afternoon.
    * I hardly ever take vacation because I can take a Friday and drive to my Mom's , or Banff or wherever and take a long weekend as long as I can stay in touch with my Blackberry. As long as there is GSM service, I can be there (unless I really do take vacation).
    * I determine what the priorities are and what my schedule is to a large degree. Sipping a margarita in the pool at a friend's house in the middle of Summer. *sigh* That was a good Summer.
    * I can watch The View in the morning. OK, that's probably a con as there is nothing else on...

    Cons:

    * I must be on available for calls pretty much 24/7.
    * I sometimes have to break important plans or appointments to solve problems or go to the trouble including having to break those fun three day weekends.
    * I am expected to have instant answers to perplexing problems hundreds or thousands of miles away and solve those problems over the phone.
    * I am many times engaged with work for 12, 14 or 18 hours at a time solving large scale problems or installing new locations.
    * Putting down the margarita, getting out of the pool and driving six hours to a location to figure out what the alarm at a location is refusing to release a data line and having to fix the fuckup and completely rewire it and get back home at four in the morning. :(
    * One of only two people in the company covering the entire country with the answer to a problem. The responsibility gets to you sometimes.
    * When your friends tell you that you have no life other than work.
    * Standing at my best friends wedding as the best man at the front of the church during the service and my Blackberry rings and I insisted that I had to answer it. That's when everyone figured I had a problem.
    * Actually looking forward to the fucking View in the morning. God damn you Starr Jones! I hate that bitch...and that annoying skinny blonde.
    • Standing at my best friends wedding as the best man at the front of the church during the service and my Blackberry rings and I insisted that I had to answer it. That's when everyone figured I had a problem.

      I hope you're joking about that. Unless somebody is actually going to die, no problem can't wait 10 minutes while your best friend goes through one of the most important moments of his life.

      • Totally serious... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hamster Lover (558288) *
        and that's one of the dangers of "constant connectivity" is that it's amazingly hard to turn off. The ceremony hadn't started yet, but I felt compelled to answer the phone. Problem is if I don't answer the phone, the person at the other end panics and does something stupid in an attempt to fix the problem and ends up making things much, much worse. It's just easier to take the call and solve the problem. Needless to say, it was taken away from me. :)
        • by Buran (150348)
          I'm sorry, but having it be on in the first place was stupid. You should NOT have had it even on you! Change your voice mail greeting to explain if you must but check your messages later and if anyone yells at you for not picking it up, you can just ask them "Did you even listen to the message? I. Was. Not. Available." Then they have to admit having been dipshits.
          • by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday March 04, 2006 @03:14PM (#14850822) Homepage Journal
            I think 90% of social structures (resturants, churches, movies, pubs, libraries, etc...) need faraday cages, or some other form of signal blocking. I'm so sick of idiots yelling at their phones in public, or dropping out of real conversation just to look at their little gadgets. It is outright rude.

            If your talking to someone HERE, and NOW, then you talk to them. No matter how many times your little gizmo yells at you. Its polite, it is something from an older age called manners. People used to have them, but technology has done its best to kill them.

            And, to be more OT, why is constant connectivity a good thing? I knew I had misanthropic tendancies, but I guess they are worse than I thought, since I really find no need to be in constant contact with people, news, slashdot, my friends, parents, neighbors, government, EVERYONE. I like the quiet time, even at work. I like quiet, uninterupted, conversations with friends, reading a good book far from a telephone or gidget. I like getting lost on little trails in the woods. Appearently I am a minority. What is so good about constantly being interupted?

            Listen to a random sample of average cell conversations, or chat logs, or even analyze the topics of your own conversations. How much of the communication is pure noise? I've noticed that cellphones bring out the urge to spill all of our minutia to uncaring others. People sit around talking about shopping, their classes, how they need to buy more shoes, that they went to the dentist, the current state of their bowels. But rarely anything meaningful. They just want others to live their lives vicariously.

            Also, contrary to the article, it is damaging our social structure, and making us more and more clanish. When I was going to a community college back in the mid-late 90's, after classes people would go outside, light a cigarette, and talk to their classmates, now people immediatly open their phones and talk to people they already know, never needing to confront strangers. One would think that this lack of novelty would lead to a more closed minded society, where we never need to confront opinions other than the ones we are familior with already.

            Wow, that turned into a rant. Sorry. Needless to say, I don't own a cell-phone, turn off AIM periodically (much to the shock of my friends), and only check my email (private) once a day. I sometimes keep the ringer off on my phone (mostly weekends, or holidays), with the answering machine volume off, and check the messages once a day. I get more done, and I think my mental health is better (no tech caused ADD).

            • What is so good about constantly being interupted?

              It makes the insecure feel important when they are bored and provides the illusion (to self and others) of busyness. For many, it also provides an "out" for not having to deal with surroundings that they may feel nervous about.

              If your talking to someone HERE, and NOW, then you talk to them. No matter how many times your little gizmo yells at you. Its polite, it is something from an older age called manners. People used to have them, but technology has
          • of continuous connectivity, not only do others get used to the idea, so do you. I don't do that anymore and I am quite into the habit of turning it off or engaging the silent profile.

            Until you fall into the sphere of continuously connected you might now realize just how addicted people get to the convenience. All of my colleagues have Blackberrys and get annoying if you don't answer their bloody emails immediately. It's crazy.
    • If you're one of two in the country that can solve the problem, and the problem happens outside of business hours, you are effectively on call 24/7, with or without a BlackBerry. Sounds like either (A) you're screwed, because this is all the support staff your employer can afford, or (B) you need to reorganize your support staff to support 24/7 business without 24/7 on-call.

  • It coughed up a story from 1995.
  • by amelith (920455) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @04:35AM (#14849112) Homepage
    I'm not sure I agree with this. Being on call is real work because it limits your freedom to do the things you'd normally do outside work to relax.

    Many of the people using this technology are doing so because they've been given no choice or have been led to believe that they're somehow not important unless they're constantly available at someone else's whim.

    The ones who are likely to welcome this are people who already work freelance in jobs such as writing and journalism, like the author of the article maybe? They already have to do time management and have a large amount of control over their working hours. Nobody is likely to ring them at 3AM to complain about a typo in their last article for example.

    When 'on call' means supporting complicated systems that run 24/7 it's different. You have no control over the timing and you can't switch your phone off if you need to deal with something important outside work. People in other timezones will call you at convenient times for them, regardless of your situation.

    I'm not saying being on call is all bad and some companies manage it very well but its somewhat naive to assume that giving people more connectivity will give them more control over their work rather than less.

    Ame
    • by Kalvos (137750) <bathory@maltedmedia.com> on Saturday March 04, 2006 @08:45AM (#14849566) Homepage

      amelith: The ones who are likely to welcome this are people who already work freelance in jobs such as writing and journalism, like the author of the article maybe? They already have to do time management and have a large amount of control over their working hours. Nobody is likely to ring them at 3AM to complain about a typo in their last article for example.

      Spoken like a non-freelancer? You're mostly right. I've been a freelance writer (as well as composer, engraver, consultant, programmer, and photographer) for the past 30-plus years. As a freelancer on the US east coast, I work "in" a dozen times zones, from Prague to Portland, and until I set clear rules, that phone would ring at any hour of the day or night.

      I've been computer-connected 24/7 since 2001, but now the phone and Skype are answered only automatically and a message must be left, even if I am here. I suggest callers always send an email to confirm their call and their question, because my clients know that their calls will be returned only when I can focus adequately on their question. Usually that is promptly, sometimes it isn't ... but the delay helps them both realize what is actually important and clarify the problem for themselves (and consequently for me). Their deadline is my deadline, but their panic is not my panic. The work always gets done, in time and well.

      As you say, always-on is a great advantage for those who can manage their time and insist they not be taken advantage of. Managing it also helps clarity of thought and family life. But I had to develop the ability to say no to unacceptable work, even if it means a light diet for a while.

      Dennis

      My latest project [maltedmedia.com]

  • There's a major differnce between being available online and having a social life. Social interaction has a lot more involved than simply communicating in words. Here's my take on this: http://junkland.n3rds.net/archives/28-Communicatio n-In-A-Connected-World.html [n3rds.net]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We may be many times more productive than past generations, but the bar has been raised so that anyone not as productive is out of a job. Take the water frame at the beginning of the industrial revolution. It enabled a person to produce more textiles in a factory, and many cottage weavers went out of business.
  • And besides, all newfangled technology comes with an 'off' switch should you find yourself needing some down time.
    Hmmm... I'm usually not the first to try new technologies, but this does sound intriguing. Does anyone know if this is supported by the 2.4 kernel?
  • Missing... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkZero (516460) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @06:08AM (#14849244)
    I think one thing that this story is missing is the way that connectivity can really improve your social life. As a young guy still working a fairly lame non-cubicle job, connectivity makes my social life much easier. With a cellphone that not only makes basic calls with plenty of minutes, but also text messaging and mobile AIM, I can contact virtually all of my friends at any time and schedule any kind of get-together I want.

    It used to be that if you wanted to get all of your friends together, you'd have to call all of them, and if they didn't answer their phone, you either leave a message on their machine at home or just have to call them back. Now, I just type in the message "Sushi tonight?" and send it to the eight people that have cellphones with text messaging, and then load up mobile AIM for the one or two that don't. In five minutes, I'd easily convinced all of my friends to go to the same restaurant as soon as they got out of work.

    I also don't come home to any tedious questions or demands. I already know from text messages during the day that someone was too busy to feed the dogs, so I just walk in and do it. I already know that my sister had a bad day at work and I can read every detail of it while I'm eating lunch at work, rather than listening to a furious rant as soon as I've switched from "work mood" to "relaxed mood" when I walk in the door at home.

    Connectivity makes life a lot easier in this regard. If I could do my work like this, it would even better.
    • The problem is not with people being connected 24x7 to their personal life, the problem is being connected 24x7 with the job. For a great many people, connectivity now means that your boss (or a server) can contact you anywhere, at any time of the day or night, and demand your attention; with career affecting penalties for not responding immediately. It used to be that people took work home with them, now people take their job with them, everywhere. The "off" switch is a myth if you are employed in an ex
  • Then work called and interrupted my train of thought.
  • It was the Spiderman Movie comment... "With great power comes great responsibility." that got me. Only geeks would be bitching about "always on". Free from the cruel bindings of geography, time, culture, religion & race, connectivity gives you great power over how you interact with others... for better or worse. We geeks may understand the technology behind it, but socially we are about as prepared for this power as a caveman with a blender. Sure it can automate manual tasks... as soon as we figure t
  • the "off" switch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hiadam (263222) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @07:01AM (#14849339)
    While it's true that there's that "off" switch that's always available, the nature of the beast is always tempting you to leave it on. I have a number of friends who get ecstatic when their phone dies or gets lost because of the rush of freedom they feel, but they would never purposefully leave it behind or turn it off.

    The internet can be sort of like drugs. Every addict thinks he can quit whenever he wants to, but the truth is ... he can't. Everyone thinks they could just turn off the TV or computer and have more alone time ... but they don't.
    • Re:the "off" switch (Score:2, Interesting)

      by iTristan (893792)
      Because I'm likely to fall into the "always on" trap like everyone else, I've automated my "off switch".

      The same technology that connects me (email, chat, office VoIP phone) can all be preprogrammed to turn off, or go to voicemail at pre-determined times. Now, I don't even notice that my outside working world has stopped being able to directly infringe on my downtime because the technology is now taking care of that and I just slow down and stop for the day.

      My office email stops checking after a certain tim
  • My always on . . . (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rbannon (512814)
    Internet connection cost me $50/month, and my cellular service cost me $60/month. Bottom line, being always on is like having a ball-and-chain on 24/7 and I'm being forced to pay for it.

  • Recently saw these folks at DEMO in Phoenix http://www.demo.com/demonstrators/demo2006/62991.h tml [demo.com] Has anyone seen any other real-time systems or services to help me manage the other forms of real-time communications like IM, SMS, chat, video?
  • "will allow us to break free from the office and actually socialise more"
    You know, like the Romans!...
  • Off switch? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CCFreak2K (930973)
    If there's anything electronic in my room made after 2000, it doesn't have an off switch, merely a power cable and a "soft" power button.
  • by DarkIcon (244858) <darkicon@dark[ ]n.com ['ico' in gap]> on Saturday March 04, 2006 @08:37AM (#14849548) Homepage
    Unless you are self-employed, a tech-addict, or someone else who's constant connectivity is self-mandated. If it is mandated by by your employer, then the off switch is really a "reprimand me" button. Don't believe me? Whatever 'it' is, leave 'it' off and see what happens.

    As for whether connectivity hinders or enhances your productivity, it really depends your job and the tasks/responsibilities thereof. I was constantly connected at my last job. It helped somethings... like being able to respond to emergencies (both real ones and management-defined ones) and being able to reach co-workers to ask questions or offer/recieve assistance. But it hurt a lot of other areas, like being able to finish a task or talk to a customer without interruption. Luckily my boss allowed us to use the 'off' switch. Yours may not. I found that in order to get any actual work done, I had to turn the instant-link radio off, shut down email, and forward the phone to voicemail... effectively cutting off my precious connectivity. But I could only do this rarely because 'people needed to reach me'. In the end, it was basically a wash. An incredibly annoying wash. Even when its a definite benefit, it's still annoying.

    In my personal life, being constantly connected is more of a blessing... but its a one-way connection. When either of the phones ring, I let voicemail catch it unless it is my wife or I am expecting a call. My 'goal' is get people out of the notion that they can pick up a phone and interrupt me whenever they feel like it. My phones are for my convienience... not anyone else's. Most people have gotten the hint that if they need to reach me then the best way to do it is to send me an email or leave me a message. If they need to reach me NOW, RIGHT NOW DAMMIT, then most of them are out of luck. I don't do 'now, right now dammit'. Those closest to me can email my blackberry for a rapid response... once I've decided whether one is necessary. I think this is the way its supposed to work, even at work. Unfortunately we lack the power to do it anywhere other than our private lives. And by 'it' I mean the philosophy that the end user... the reciever of the message/phone call... should be in the position to determine whether it interrupts them or not. The default mode of instant-connectivity takes that decision out of our hands and puts it in the hands of technology, but... at least personally... we can take that power back. Unless you are self-employed, a tech-addict, or someone else who's constant connectivity is self-mandated. If it is mandated by your employer, then the off switch is really a "reprimand me" button. Don't believe me? Whatever 'it' is, leave 'it' off and see what happens.

    As for whether connectivity hinders or enhances your productivity, it really depends your job and the tasks/responsibilities thereof. I was constantly connected at my last job. It helped some things... like being able to respond to emergencies (both real ones and management-defined ones) and being able to reach co-workers to ask questions or offer/receive assistance. But it hurt a lot of other areas, like being able to finish a task or talk to a customer without interruption. I found that in order to get any actual work done, I had to turn the instant-link radio off, shut down email, and forward the phone to voicemail... effectively cutting off my precious connectivity. But I could only do this rarely because 'people needed to reach me'. In the end, it was basically a wash. An incredibly annoying wash. Even when its a definite benefit, it's still annoying.

    In my personal life, being constantly connected is more of a blessing... but its a one-way connection. When either of the phones ring, I let voicemail catch it unless it is my wife or I am expecting a call. My 'goal' is get people out of the notion that they can pick up a phone and interrupt me whenever they feel like it. My phones are for my convenience... not anyone else's. Most people have gotten th
    • Insightful post. Texting is my way of "urgent" get-to-me communication. Corporate email (with laptop or Blackberry) is the "in an hour two" response time method. Mobile is third (I may pick up or may not but don't hold it against me and I don't care if you do) and office or home telephone is a distant fourth.
  • And it will be fine until we so heavily rely upon it all that it will actually become illegal to switch it off...
  • employers want you there 8:30 to 5:00pm and then they're making people on-call and pagable the rest of the day. They want us to be like 3rd world asian countries where people work 12+ hours a day every day of the week with maybe chinese new year for holidays.
  • Where on Earth ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Morden (15788)
    ... has one of my managers gone, then? His out-of-office autoreply claims he will have "no access to email".

    Yet I get paged while I'm on holidays. Hmm.
  • I am in constant "always on" mode, and it does save time, but the fact that I am constantly interrupting my down time for short bursts, makes me feel harried and as if I never have long enough blocks of time to enter intense states of concentration.

    I paint to relax. Painting, just like coding, allows you to enter intense states of concentration where you become incredibly productive. The Zone. Always on is a guarranteed way to break that focus and actually lower your output.

  • It strikes me that - over time - the idiot bosses who misuse the 24/7 aspects of their connectivity to their workforce will disappear through natural selection. The very nature of the new connectivity that we have makes the options that one has more clear and we can more easily jump from one boss (more draconian) to another (more, well, baconian). The new connectivity creates a more fluid market for labor and those that wish to shed themselves of their current shackles can find the key more easily.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Saturday March 04, 2006 @12:09PM (#14850259) Homepage

    ...when your power goes out, you can still get on with your life.

    In the big black-out in the northeastern U.S. in 2003 [globalsecurity.org], people who absolutely relied on Internet access/email/etc. were suddenly paralyzed. The withdrawal symptoms were sad to watch. If you really want to interrupt the Internet, forget DoS attacks: just cut the power.

    Anyway, I make my living online, but I'm offline more than not. I don't want to be efficiently working ALL DAY LONG; I want to work when I have to, and spend the rest of the time with my spouse and kids, doing non-electronic things. Cook. Draw. Read. Hike. Camp. Wrestle. Play chess or poker with real material objects. Take a nap.

    • The withdrawal symptoms were sad to watch.

      A much simpler version of this : next time you have friends visiting and the 'phone rings, just ignore it. Don't pause in your conversation, don't look around, don't look at your wife to see if she's going to answer it, don't acknowledge it at all. Just. Ignore. It.

      And keep an eye on your friends. See how they react. Count how long it takes before one of them says "aren't you going to get that?" in a plaintive or accusative manner. Watch their face when you say "n

  • by marafa (745042)
    what with slashdot, kiroshin, linuxhomepage.com, my own rss setup over at google.com/ig. i dont have the time to do work anymore, its all reading aobut new technology. sigh.. i wish i could make the leap and become the phb!
  • "... rather than obliterate our social lives, always-on connectivity and the increased flexibility it brings will allow us to break free from the office and actually socialise more..."

    Shouldn't that read:"...will allow us to break free at the office and actually socialise more."?
    Doesn't posting to /. constitute socialising for the majority of us here?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I teach gifted middle school kids. After some interesting phone calls at home last year (from parents) my boss suggested I only use e-mail and refuse to give out my phone number. Life has been much better since then. Smart bosses understand that everyone needs some downtime and control over their schedule. Of course, smart bosses are in short supply -- I'm lucky on that count. The best ways to be connected are mobile (so I can choose the place) and asynchronous (so I can choose the time).
  • This would all be fine except that you still end up working like a dog from 9-6 in addition to being on call at weird hours of the day. It's not like suddenly you're liberated from the workhouse.

    This writer ought to be ashamed of himself. You can just use your own two eyes and look around and see people working harder than ever for less real money, taking on extra work here and there. You can see many geeks doing amazing things with technology, but there are many more people who just get into trouble with i
    • I have a client who pulls out her cell phone every time she has a brain fart and calls me up to tell me about it. How do you measure that productivity?

      I went to a really interesting lecture by David McCullough [wikipedia.org] a couple of weeks ago. He spoke primarily about the context of the American Revolution. I found one of the most interesting points in his lecture to be one of his minor ones: in the 1700s, you couldn't send a message faster than anyone could physically travel, and even that was difficult. So it

  • This post is coming late so no one is gonna read it.... but I'm sitting here on a patio in Waikiki writing on my wireless laptop, and enjoying a morning coffee. My girlfriend just completed a conference call and is just finishing up some email. She wouldn't be here enjoying the sunshine if she weren't able to keep up her commitments remotely.

    /K

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