The little "joys" and "pains" of technology

I feel like I have been gone from my blog for some time. In actuality, only a week has gone by. Perhaps this is the beginning of me getting more consumed by the things of this online world…ok, enough of that! I digress.

Today I am amazed by what technology offers up to us with a very specific example.

I am currently collaborating with a colleague in Virginia and another colleague in Nevada. I’m amazed at how easily these collaborations have come together. I have a question about my dataset – BAM! There’s an email waiting in my inbox answering my question with any files attached that I may need.

It is crazy to me to think of collaboration as happening in any other way. Heck, I often collaborate with my advisor (who is a floor beneath me) and the researcher in the office next to me purely through email. Certainly, we have our moments of meeting face to face, but the majority of our work-related communication is purely online.

As an individual who was born into this online world generation…well, almost…I certainly remember the first time we got internet in my house. Oh the sweet days of dial up – click of a button *insert annoying modem dial sound here* and in just a bit you were “online.” Of course, those were the days you had to be fully committed to searching the web because you’d be waiting forever for a single web page to load. Oh how far we have come and I can barely think of a world where these possibilities did not exist.

But this increase in ability to collaborate and the lightning speed at which all communication flies seems to mean one thing to me — I have to do more. The amount of work being done, things getting published, collaborations happening are all increasing at an exponential rate, and I cannot help but think it has something to do with the speed at which everything is happening. Think about it – you can easily edit, copy, paste, and move text around in a word file; thus, no longer giving you an excuse as to why it’s taking you so long to write that manuscript or edit that book chapter. You can quickly and easily hand documents back and forth between colleagues which means the average time something stays away from my desk = 24 hours or less. But is it possible our technologies are outrunning our intellect?

It seems to me that I rarely have time to ponder a moment or think in depth about what I want to write or how I want an experiment to look. I am just overwhelmed by the masses of information available to me (published works) and my own inability to keep up with the work I should be doing given the ease and flexibility of writing and editing documents and sending them between colleagues.

So today, I write a simple post in both amazement and weariness.

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About Megan Johnson Shen

I am a social psychologist graduating with my Ph.D. from Baylor University this May and moving to NYC this summer to start a new job as a postdoctoral researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in the Cancer Prevention and Control Department. I love the brain, human behavior, and anything to do with understanding them better. I love research and a good dinner party. Fine wine and cheese - I'm there. Interesting experimental data? I'll probably show for that too. View all posts by Megan Johnson Shen

2 responses to “The little "joys" and "pains" of technology

  • Gardner

    The acceleration you write about is real, as are the stresses it causes. At the same time, even as our workload increases, I remain very hopeful about the good things I see as more people communicate and create together than ever before in human history. And I think about ways in which this bounty can be shared with even more people–and how it can transform the industrial model of schooling into something more truly democratic."Of many books there is much weariness"–clearly, the sense of being overwhelmed is nothing new, though this degree of intensity may be.

  • Jordan LaBouff

    I think you're absolutely correct. It contributes to the all-too-human tendency to rush through things that are strenuous but important. Imagine if we could run a marathon without the actual training and effort. Everyone would do it.I do think that we have to be very conscious about the rushing, and take the time to try to slow down and really delicately process what our plans are before they're executed. If we do that, we'll save time in the long run, because we'll spend a lot less of it playing catch-up and trying to explain away the problems we should have noticed before we even started.

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