Tehelka - - 20 -

Do you think this ro­mance with tech­nol­ogy will sour? There is some ev­i­dence — busi­nesses are gaug­ing that em­ploy­ees on e-mail all the time are over­stressed and un­der­pro­duc­tive. Com­pa­nies are triag­ing, in­sist­ing that work­ers take the day off to get dis­con­nected. Peo­ple are not meant to work this way. We’re notic­ing that mul­ti­task­ing, which we thought was the best thing, de­grades per­for­mance.

What I was study­ing in those early days was that you had this time on­line and then you got up and lived your life. Now, you have this co-pres­ence, where you’re al­ways mul­ti­task­ing. It’s a more in­te­grated ex­pe­ri­ence, where you con­trol your pro­file and build your so­cial vis­i­bil­ity and cap­i­tal. My con­cern is that it takes you away from the peo­ple you love. I know peo­ple who are on Sec­ond Life and continue to de­scribe it as a tex­tured, rich en­vi­ron­ment. But back then, you re­ally had to de­velop it. Now, the in­ter­face is pre­sented to you and all you have to do is click and buy.

Kids were pro­gram­ming their own games. One of the chap­ters of my book was called Child Pro­gram­mers: The First Gen­er­a­tion. There wasn’t a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion! It never un­folded into a world of new be­gin­nings. The in­no­va­tion just stopped. We didn’t be­come a na­tion of pro­gram­mers, we’ve be­come less com­puter lit­er­ate. Is tech­nol­ogy com­pen­sat­ing for the de­cline? Tech­nol­ogy can­not com­pen­sate for wis­dom. It can­not coun­ter­weigh the at­ten­tion you give to a prob­lem when you have noth­ing else on your mind. Maybe we should be­gin ask­ing tech­nol­ogy to do less, rather than more for us.

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