Technology log

Posted on April 10, 2009

April 6 - I'm not sure what a typical technology log should look like, but for the most part, mine is pretty dull. If you take out the amount of time I spent on the computer, the only other electronic devices included the following: cell phone, toaster oven, TV, dishwasher, and microwave oven. I also used my car and a conventional oven, which seem as if they could be included on the technology list as well. There are a handful of items that I would consider technologies, but they don't completely fit the description listed (shower, faucets, toilet, i.e. running water) or basically work on their own, like a refrigerator and a dehumidifier. We could probably break it down even further by including Ellul's technique definition and throw in any sort of manufactured product (a pen, a package of pasta, the shoes I'm wearing), but I don't think it's worth detailing this for 45 pages.

I came pretty close to spending the estimated amount of time on each technology, although I spent a little less time on the computer and a little more watching TV. The reason was that besides the NCAA men's basketball championship being on the tube, I watched the end of the Orioles-Yankees game and part of the Cubs-Astros game. I probably could have gotten a little more work (and homework) accomplished, but considering these two factors above, the time was spent well.

There were no real surprises with the other technologies. I heated Pop-Tarts in the toaster oven that morning; a called my girlfriend twice and checked the time probably 10-15 times from my cell phone; I used the dishwasher to wash the dishes; and I drove to my Monday class and back home. I originally did not take into account using the microwave and conventional oven, which I used to make dinner. I had assumed that we were going to the grocery store, so I also estimated using the grocery scanner, but we did not go until Tuesday.

The details for my computer usage are probably the most worthwhile for this assignment. I chatted with nine co-workers on IM and email, taking up roughly two hours of time. On Mondays, I work from home because I have class in the evening. However, I spend nearly the same amount of time chatting with people on IM and email when I'm at home as I do when I'm actually in the office. There are multiple reasons for this. First, I work in a department where 80 percent of the people work on projects that have no relevance to what I'm doing. Second, out of the handful of people in the office I do work with, it's usually easier to send IMs with links to the work and/or links to the tickets in our project tracking system that explain the work. For more complex items, we do discuss in person, and we'll occasionally have meetings to examine larger projects (however, most of the meetings rarely are useful, unfortunately, because there are too many people talking and not enough people listening ... but that's another story altogether). Lastly, two-thirds of the people with whom I converse on a typical day work in a different office (in New York, Dulles, Va., Boston, and London, among others). There's no real benefit to being in the Baltimore office when others are elsewhere. For instance, I normally work in the office on Friday, but today (April 10), I worked from home because the only person I really needed to communicate with is in the New York office. He decided to work from a cafe today, so things worked out well for us!

I communicated with a handful of friends and family via email and phone on April 6, although the conversations were short (fewer than five minutes) and the emails were even shorter (three sentences max). As a hybrid sort of communication, I emailed text messages to my girlfriend, who was at the Orioles' opening day game and responded directly from her phone. We communicate this way more often than not because she generally has her phone handier than a computer (she's a kindergarten teacher for a city charter school), and I'm usually pretty close to my computer. Also, she has a text-message plan, and I do not.

In general, my work day was fairly light, as I had fewer than a couple of hours of actual programming. I spent more time working on product documentation, which is not something I do every day. At present time, though, a lot of our bigger projects are waiting on information and/or decisions to be made, so I'm trying to utilize that time in other ways. Very little of this is done on paper. I have a pad of paper that I will occasionally make a note or two, but all of the official documentation is compiled in Word and TextEdit (Apple's word processor). I generally keep a note pad handy for meetings or for simple reminders or tasks that I plan to cross out immediately after completing. I cannot even access a printer at work from my laptop, so if I need to print something out, I just do it before I go into work that morning.

On a given day, I use a variety of computer applications for work, although most of my time is spent between a web browser, code editor, and server terminal window. There's not really any alternatives around using these apps, unless I want to do completely different work. As expected, the drawbacks from using these technologies sometime make a person forget about the rest of the "real" world. Anytime that occurs when I'm working at home, though, I can take a break and walk the dog, so it's not too bad.

I generally spend some time - usually less than an hour - on social networking sites. I spent at most 20 minutes on Facebook and Twitter, answering a couple of messages and just checking out what some of my friends were up to. Of course, the alternative to this would be calling my friends and/or talking to them in person, however, that presents a few difficulties. A decent number of my Facebook buddies are nowhere near Baltimore, and furthermore, it would be somewhat counterproductive to attempt to call all of my friends when I can quickly see if anything interesting is occurring.

I just recently became "friends" with a guy with whom I attended Purdue and a high school friend who is going back for his master's degree at Purdue. I haven't talked to either of these guys in at least 10 years, so I don't even have their phone numbers. Some of our literature friends might wonder why I would even bother communicating with them at all. Roszak might ask, "If you cannot have a real relationship with them, how worthwhile is the information and/or knowledge you are obtaining in a strictly virtual relationship?" It would be simple-minded to assume that people have to have face-to-face contact to continue being friends on a long-term basis. Sending emails or Facebook messages is rather similar to writing snail mail letters, only you do not have to go into immense detail during an individual communication.

Overall, there are certain alternatives available to my technology usage, but since my day job is directly related to websites, I would have to find a new position to remove myself from the machine altogether. Trust me, this is crossed my mind a number of times. I've joked recently that I wouldn't mind just going over and working at the zoo. Of course, the minute they find out I have computer experience, they would probably have me managing the database of animals to determine feeding and breeding times.



First, I think your use of a TV, dishwasher, microwave and toaster is not really relevant. I would have liked to see a more reflective or detailed list of your use of information technologies (such as IM, which you mention in your summary). I think it's interesting that in such a short period of time a whole industry was built around technology that previously didn't exist (interenet, webpages, etc.). This technology had grown so big and so rapidly that businesses that had been around for decades are shutting down their doors (newspapers and magazines). So not only has the technology been developed and is regularly used but is has been so well-adopted that paper-based journalism is not profitable. Your job exists solely because of the internet. We can't be more dependent upon technology than that.

Wed, 04/15/2009 - 12:15 Permalink

Looking over my transcripts, I had seven IM chats with people on April 6. One chat was a total of four lines, and it was with a former co-worker who sent me a link to check out. Every other chat was with current co-workers. We try to stay on task with work, but it's also a good time to catch up, tell jokes, and what not. And obviously, we send links (both for work and for entertainment) amongst ourselves. The great thing about IM is that even though we sit a few seats away from each other, we can discuss things that are going on at the workplace without potentially offending others. One example is that a guy from Information Systems was talking (in person) to a guy sitting near me, and I asked a co-worker what he knew about the guy. I use my own laptop at work, and I've heard various things at work about using my own machine. But my co-worker assured me that this particular guy wouldn't care. Obviously, it would have been difficult to have this conversation out loud, since the guy was standing directly behind me.

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 21:59 Permalink