I think it’s changed a lot already. Maybe some of the changes aren’t visible, but I think the concept of the workplace has become more flexible and I think that’s only going to accelerate. When I walk around Manhattan in the middle of a weekday I see untold numbers of people sitting in coffee shops with their laptops. I mean, they’re working; but they’re not working in a way that would have been recognizable to anyone 10 years ago. I suspect that kind of thing will only increase.—Malcolm Gladwell talks about our working future
But I could make the case in my own life — and I know many people feel the same way — that the BlackBerry has in fact freed up an enormous amount of time because it has allowed me to be productive in what would have been dead space. If I am sitting on a subway, stuck, I can take out my BlackBerry and I can answer 30 e-mails so that when I finally get to my destination I have time to do what I really want to do.
I was saying something similar just yesterday; I want email in my pocket (iPhone) because email largely replaces the phone for me so I need it as much as a phone but also, I’m not more tied down I’m more flexible (or I’d be). If I’m waiting for a new design or a client confirmation or whatever, I can go to a cafe or run errands or browse a bookstore, get the email and head back home or to a wifi cafe and work. It’s all about having more options. Granted, a lot of people won’t use the option and just “be there” all the time, becoming crackberry addicts but I prefer the options and then controlling myself to ignoring or not having access to technologies to “protect” myself from abuse I can keep myself from while still getting the benefits.
Matt has a post in a similar area, Give Me The Journey. Actually, he’s saying kind of the opposite but you gotta hear all sides ;).
Given the inherent value in exploration of the world around us (captured in the old adage “It’s about the journey, not the destination“), isn’t there’s a danger in creating technologies that make such serendipitous discovery of the public realm (the dirty, chaotic physical space we all share) less and less likely as they make the search process increasingly/coldly/calculatingly efficient?
He gives my counter argument himself:
Rather than mourn this devolution toward informational utopia, perhaps we should just accept that the very nature of serendipity and sociability will change? Surely these new technologies will enable new forms of random discovery, new ways to encounter new people; and of course, we already see this occurring. But I can’t help but fear that an increasing dependence on near-perfect online tools will inevitably detract from the very imperfect way in which reality creates itself around us.