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December 16, 2003

Convergence Transitions

Every realm or phase generally finds it's "sweet spot" or equilibrium for a while. Agriculture had a period of stability. Manufacturing had a period of stability. The Information Age will (someday) have a period of stability. But the transitions between realms can be filled with conflict.

This builds on my earlier post about how the workplace is about to be faced with the issues of employee-owned digital devices; what policies do employers have about cellphone calls, answering personal cell phones at work, etc? How does that fit with pager and PDA and web surfing policies - because now my PDA can be a cell phone, or I can check my phone calls over internet telephony. I've suggested that policies will need to be activity-based and device-independent- because the distinctions between devices are becoming meaningless.

Now employee cellphones are digital cameras and video recorders- so the next time the CEO calls in the troops for a motivating pitch to the headcount, one of they may be transmitting it live to the web, and -in general- there are no policies dealing with this.

Consider key-fob memory; what are the implications for corporate security when an unhappy employee can walk out with 2GB of files on their keychain?

My revisit of this topic is prompted by this link talking about a new law prohibiting cell phones in gyms because of their photo capability. Inevitably, in the absence of an informed discussion, skirmishes will happen in locker rooms, homes, and workplaces, and people will get upset and act like.. people, and this is really just the sort of conflict that happens in a phase change.

Remember that when the Owners and Management (two new species) tried to automate the textile mills in England, the workers revolted, burning the mills and following their mythical Ned Ludd into battle. In France, the workers threw their wooden shoes (sabot) into the machinery and ruined it.

To this day, somebody who rejects new technology is a Luddite, and spiking the machines is called sabotage. Very little is really new, I guess.


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