In the blue corner we have ‘Digital Natives’, people to whom technology is an umbilical cord to life. Often seen as youngsters born in a World where mobile phones are the norm rather than a recent invention, and media is ubiquitous, these people have utter mastery of their technology and the attention span of demented gnat.
In the red corner we have the digital dinosaurs – the grey-haired captains of industry who consider anyone not hanging onto their every word an insult and anything digital can be handled by their grandchildren or secretaries.
Gloves off, let the fight begin!
Of course in reality these extreme stereotypes rarely exist. Our propensity to use technology mostly depends on our exposure to technology through friends and through work. I would argue that technology use is a cultural aspect, and as such merits more tolerance on all sides.
As much of my work involves time on line, most of my ‘out of office’ professional time is spent with crowds of people who would find me odd if I wasn’t keen to share photos of the people I am with; who find it odd that I don’t ‘check in’ nearly often enough at the places I visit (my iphone doesn’t seem to like Foursquare unless I’m hooked onto someone else’s wireless broadband and I just don’t have time for that); and who actively expect me to share (Tweet/blog) the information they’re sharing. If my colleagues and I find it interesting enough to share, it’s affirmation of the fact that they’ve engaged us and we’ve thought what they’ve said interesting enough to share with our own ‘followers’ – a geeky form of genuine flattery.
Yet in other situations, I find myself feeling like a pariah for simply getting my phone out at the beginning of meetings to turn the settings to silent.
We are undoubtedly in an era when we are trying to work it all out. Personal technology is, on the grand scale of things, something we’re all still grappling with in terms of workplace norms, and whilst the first pass for many organisations was security, then grappling with initiatives like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) because people were bringing their own anyway, we’ve moved to a higher plane of practicality in most organizations: etiquette.
I’m English. We have a bit of a reputation Worldwide for politeness. So I find it upsetting when people find my technology behaviours unacceptable, and in order to reach some conclusions, I’m going to lay down some thoughts and suggestions around technology use in workplace situations where you’re with others in blogs over the coming weeks– let’s call it ‘Technology Tuesday’! it’s only my own thoughts, not company ones, so I expect my colleagues will have a thing or two to say: I hope you’ll join the journey – and the discussions – as well.
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- Suggest some of your pet ‘personal technology at work’ peeves for us to blog about in coming weeks