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Technology Has Its Uses

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As a recent week wound down, I found myself sitting at the bar of a French restaurant in the Easton Town Center. "La Vie En Rose" played in the background (au français, even). I ordered a martini, finished the week's last-minute contacts with my mobile phone and checked email with the WiFi Internet connection provided throughout the town center while I waited for a business associate to arrive for a chat. Such is the life of a hardworking entrepreneur at the dawn of the twenty-first century. In its proper place, communications technology can contribute to a wonderful standard of living.

Experiences like this aren't exactly rare. A week later, I found myself called away to New York on business after a late afternoon phone call. The log of my call shows when my meetings will be; someone watching the system then uses the Web to arrange my trip while I'm with other clients the following morning. When the day came for me to leave, I went straight to the airport even though I had to synchronize with a colleague before I left. A WiFi connection at the airport allowed me to get connected to the Internet, establish a secure connection back to the company's systems, talk a bit about the details of the project, pick up the files that I needed, and then get on my way.

After some bit of scrounging around, I was able to locate an electrical outlet so that I could work without running my battery down (as I would need it for the flight itself). Shortly thereafter, a lady in a similar position saw that I had located an outlet and joined me briefly in some discussion about the likelihood of being able to find a WiFi Internet connection.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits that we get from the availability of communications technology is not just that it allows us to get work done anywhere we are, but that it allows us to go wherever we like to work.

I'm always amazed at how so often people will see technology like mobile telephones and computer networks as “leashes” or things that will otherwise intrude in their personal lives. It's true that there are people who will abuse the ability to reach other people. But this is one of the great things about the mobile phone: if it rings, check the caller ID. If the caller isn't identified or is someone who calls about any trivial matter that really doesn't need your immediate attention, just hit the button not to take the call and let it bounce into voicemail.

The real issue here is that people who use technology can greatly improve their standard of living. People who are used by the technology will fare badly.

I do not mean to imply that those inclined to gadgets are in better shape than the rest of us. Indeed, it is my experience that “gadget guys” are more likely than not to be used by the technology, a slave to every new feature, trying every bell and whistle for the sake of doing so. A far more sensible approach—and one that is readily available both to gadget guys and to people with other concerns—is simply to identify what the technology can do, to think about how they would then use it, and to be sure that they understand those features. No doubt, some asking of questions will be necessary to see just what it can do, but the important question here, really, is what can it do for you?

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2005-11-21 07:30 AM

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