Responsible Business Debate: Is Technology Healthy for Society?
Issue: What are the benefits and drawbacks of technology to social interaction?
While technology has brought advancements, conveniences, and efficiencies to our lives, some critics wonder if the benefits outweigh the costs, especially those that are transforming the ways we communicate, connect with other people, solve problems, and generally interact as human beings. In other words, are we losing the relationships that have made the United States a great place to live and work?
In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States on behalf of the French government. He set out to study the prison system, but ...view middle of the document...
Answer: Technology broadens communities of thought. Obscure thinkers that you had to be introduced to, who published highly original work sporadically and in hard to find places, now have Web pages and post their papers alongside everyone else's. But it also serves as a master of distraction, it seems to be further reducing our collective attention span from the depths to which television had brought it. Important issues fade from focus fast, and while many of humanity's challenges get more complicated, society's ability to pay attention to complex arguments dwindles. Love it or hate it, but free information will transform the world.
2. Defend the need for society to rely less on technology and more on traditional communication patterns, such as face-to-face meetings, verbal conversations and handwritten correspondence.
Answer: The cost is great, but the problem is that much of it is invisible. People today, especially the kids, have no idea of how to interact and actually read someone's face because you can't do that on Facebook. They think nothing of ripping someone in an email or blogging with little or no idea of the consequences. People say things over the internet that would get them punched out in person.
What Would You Do?
James Kitling thought about his conversation with Ira Romero earlier that day. He was not really surprised that the human resources (HR) department was concerned about the time employees were spending on personal issues during the workday. Several departments were known for their rather loose management approach. Internet access for personal tracks, like shopping, using Instant Messaging services, and answering nonwork e-mails, had been a concern several months. Recent news reports had indicated that more than 50 percent of large companies now filter or monitor e-mail. Companies are also monitoring Web browsing, file downloads, chat room use and group postings. A survey published in the media reported that workers spend an average of eight hours a week looking at non work Internet sites.
As the director of information technology, James was very dedicated to the effective use of technology to enhance business productivity. Although he was knowledgeable about technology, James was equally attuned to the ways in which technology can be abused in a work setting. He knew that some employees were probably using too much Internet time on personal tasks.
On the other hand, his company mainly employed professionals, administrative staff, and...