Sunday, July 13, 2008

Order v. Chaos

I just spent a week and a few days traveling. While I love being away, seeing new places, meeting new people and such, I also like being at home, in my bed, with my dogs on the floor to each side, hearing the breathing of my Lovely Bride on her pillow beside me. I hate having to fill out reports for the expenses those trips cause, but I adore the security of seeing clean clothes in the closet, knowing that I don't have to worry if my luggage will be lost, or what time is checkout, or my next train.

I think there is some of that in all of us: a love for the security of routine, but a longing for just a touch of mystery, chance, or adventure to spice up life. Once the ability to meld with travel gets into your psyche, though, it's tough to get out. My dad traveled for much of the thirty-odd years of my life. He was almost always home for weekends, but would leave most weeks on Monday or Tuesday for a few days of visiting customers. While I understand this now as a businessman, I remember missing him being there, yet enjoying hearing about the places he went.

The iPhone 2.0 phenomena that is currently raging has this same duality. There are those who are excited about the changes, glad of the new features and tools, longing for more, and there are those who are sad that they have lost the security of knowing exactly where the icon for each application would be. This is but the newest disruption to the lives of technology users, as sure as the changes of RSS, IM, and that mysterious Web 2.0 we hear so much about.

I presented to a group this week on these new technologies, and the powerful changes this can make to your interface with information and people via the internet. I forget that I work with a technology company and we expect everyone to use these things. Many people in the group, peers of mine, have companies that filter IM traffic, do not allow "unauthorized" web access, and generally treat their employees like children being held after school for detention.

While I'm sure there are abuses of the lax attitude we have toward these factors, I'm also sure that my colleagues bring in more varied and useful information from these explorations than they would with limited access, and we are able to share and discuss that information more freely and fully as a result.

While reading this article, I was wondering about the future of those companies my friends work for. Would they eventually have IT departments that crumbled under pressure from their workers insistence on newer tech, or would they wither and die, due to employees who left to work in better places? Maybe that's research that needs to be done. As we (the company I now work for) grow, will we have larger IT structures that grow to contain and control us more, until the creative innovators all leave? Who knows?

Meanwhile, I have to re-do my expense report with daily exchange rates from an official source, in exact week increments. ::Sigh::

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