Archives for posts with tag: internet

Imagine a work day where your smart phone keeps standard work hours — turns on when you begin working and off it goes as you head home for the evening. Volkswagen did more than just imagine this when its German operation recently adopted a policy that turns on its email servers a half hour before the work day begins and turns it off a half-hour after the day ends (policy applies to all non-managerial blackberry users).

According to an article in Wired magazine online, Volkswagen’s intention is improve worker well-being by promoting a work culture where people should not be expected to work or be reached at all hours of the day. AMEN!

Blackberries, iPhones and their smart phone competitors keep us constantly wired, so the difference between work and play is increasingly blurred.

It has become widely accepted that for a telemarketer to call during dinner-time or at night is intrusive, if not illegal in some places, so why not a similar sentiment toward a client or co-worker that can’t wait until the morning to send a message? The task at hand probably won’t get done any sooner because we are aware of it at 11 P.M. instead of 8 A.M. the next day. The world will also likely not come to an end because we are not available to answer messages at all hours of the night.

I would venture to call the Volkswagen decision revolutionary by US standards, yet in uber efficient Germany, it is possible? The policy indicates a sensitivity to worker quality of life in a digital world that should really be present in some form in every company.

I’m sure much of the counter argument revolves around how this stunts productivity, but does it really? There are endless studies that show how workers waste at least 25-30% of their time at work messing around on the Internet for personal reasons anyway. Why not make the work day more efficient and our off-hours genuinely preserved for leisure?

So at the end of the work day, what’s more important? Reading emails during dinner or spending time with your kids? Answering questions on a Blackberry that can wait until the morning or taking a jog, cooking a proper meal, watching a movie with a friend? It seems like the answer should be pretty obvious for the non-workaholics out there, but then again, not everyone loves to log off!

Logging out now…

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I promise this isn’t a plug for the new and unusual owner of the New Jersey Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov. The Russian billionaire businessman caught my attention in a rerun of 60 Minutes highlighting the high life of this playboy and his new NBA role stateside.

What was remarkable to me was what he said about computers. “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.” His desk was a mess of papers with no piece of machinery in site. My kind of billionaire.

The New York Post reported he doesn’t have a cell phone and writes his own letters. Granted he probably pays people to use computers, dial phone numbers and brush his teeth for him… it still left an impression on me.

If a Russian billionaire in the 21st Century can be so “retro” and logged off (all the time), well then so can I (once in awhile). This is probably just about the only thing we have in common, but I’ll at least be taking his lead on this.

I promise when I become a billionaire, I will do the same.

Logging out now.

So the main idea with starting this blog was for me to encourage others and myself to get offline more often. And in doing so, take up more activities that are internet-free.

So…My first activity: Write a letter. With a pen. And a piece of paper. I went digging for some stationary and a nice pen, wiped the dust off both and sat down to scrawl something out.

Having decided that my sister would be the beneficiary of such an act I quickly realized that writing a letter would mean skipping over anything immediate, because she’ll know about it anyway by the time she gets the letter. The result: a relatively emotional account of my current feelings and life situation. A blurb to her on Facebook just wouldn’t have inspired me to write in such a way. Nor would it have exercised some majorly underused muscles in my right hand.

I have to admit that there is something more intimate and of course literally, more slow about letter writing. The time it takes to write the words down gives me more brain time to formulate what to write next. And that I am writing it in my own handwriting makes it more personal to the individual on the receiving end, not to mention there is something physically important here too… I am taking something in my hand and mailing it so it will rest in another person’s hands and somehow we are sharing something together in that way as well.

Maybe my sister and I will make a habit of this… 21st century pen pals. Now to find a stamp.

Logging out now…

Apparently, a business dictionary would call someone like me a laggard. A what? Yes, a “laggard”: the minority group (roughly 16% of the population), which is the last group to try or adopt a new product. It consists largely of seniors, and those with low socioeconomic status. Laggards use friends and neighbors as information sources, dislike change, and accept new things only when forced to. Well, if that is my audience, so much for hoping this blog will be a success.

Oddly enough, I’m none of those things – not poor, not old, not opposed to change – in fact I love change and new things. So what’s the deal? People like me probably fall into a group just before that 16%: minority group that hates their cell phone and adopts new products because if they don’t they’re friends won’t contact them anymore.

I guess I move  just a little bit slower than the lot of you.

Logging out now…


Frustration!

I think it was when I was suckered into joining Facebook that I began to really feel like I needed to write down how I was feeling and express my frustration with too much technology, too many gadgets and too much computer in my life. The relentless push forward to go faster and faster and faster somehow triggers the feeling in me that I just need to slow down.

Facebook seems to have evolved into what was once the cell phone – where without it, social and professional lives can suffer. I guess even an e-mail invitation doesn’t suffice so much anymore, just post it on facebook. Sociologists might call me a “late adoptor” while its all those “early adoptors” that push the markets, demand and eventually people like me to adopt just to stay afloat. I’m not “tech-tarded,” as a friend of mine calls the technologically challenged, rather I’m just more interested in living in my environment, in the REAL world,  not through gadgets or whatever version of myself I create on the internet.

As a person who came of age along with the Internet, I’m no stranger to, nor a hater of the World Wide Web. But it does make me nuts sometimes. Watching CNN is no longer watching news … it’s watching reporters tell you every three seconds to check out their Twitter feed, join a Facebook group, submit a question, send a photo, etc. What’s with all the viewer engagement? How about engage me with super star reporting?

That said, seemingly with no choice anyway but to join the masses in at least some way, I figure it is still important to keep touch with our fellow humans through interaction, friendships, family relationships and a plethora of non-Internet activities (many activities of which I plan to pursue and report on to “keep it real” in this blog).  My intention is to encourage others to do the same, to log off and slow down.

Logging out now…