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06 July 2009

Technology: Increased Productivity or Increased Laziness?

We just returned from vacationing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin. Quite rural. And I remained unplugged the entire time (except for some Twitter action on the Palm Pre...)

Doing so made me think about the way technology has impacted us - both for better and for worse.

It goes without saying that our lives are easier now than in the past. Just look at the difference between the typewriter and the computer for instance. If you're thinking about writing a book - you're going to LOVE the backspace button and the ability to keep all your work on a SD card the size of a postage stamp.

The automobile gets you from point A to point B in a respectable amount of time. We're talking horsepower rather than a horse...

Airlines give us the ability to see the world in person rather than in a book at the library.

And the list goes on...

But there are some interesting drawbacks as well. Now we tell people they need to "unplug" in order to relax. We have connectivity that can eat up every waking second of our day. And yes, even though there seems like limitless things to be done in a day, could it be that we're getting lazier despite our increased activity?

Here's where I'm going with this...

Today I'm connected almost 24hrs a day. With the Palm Pre (or iPhone if I'd chosen that path) I'm able to manage email, text, calendar and tasks along with the insane amount of online (cloud) content available at my fingertips via browser and Apps.

But does this make me more or less productive as a worker?

On the one hand I can do my job anywhere at any time. On the other hand I can also do a million other things with the technology. I can Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, etc. at work and at play.

Because of this my life has the ability to become one giant tech trip. An enmeshed mess of work, family, spirituality, entertainment, education and relationship building.

Before the computer we worked hard for 7-9 hours a day to get everything done so it wouldn't be waiting for us the next day. But today we often play at work and leave stuff undone because we can always jump online at home to finish things up.

I really don't know that I have a good answer to this dilemma. On the one hand I love it. On the other I long for simpler days. Either way, there's no turning back. I don't think the Amish lifestyle is for me so I need to learn balance in this new age of technological enlightenment.

Am I alone in this?