Hyperconnectivity Not Just Personal

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Ars Technica has an article up about the "hyperconnected"–defined by the Interactive Data Corporation as those people for whom the line between work and personal has been blurred to the point that they’re "willing to communicate with work on vacation, in restaurants, from bed, and even in places of worship."

The article offers some criticism of the purportedly overworked, suggesting offhandly that the hyperconnected will pose new challenges for IT departments, and possibly have questionable effects on workers’ personal lives.

While these concerns over productivity and relaxation are certainly valid, there’s another side of merging personal and workplace that’s ignored by the commentary: the same breakdown that leads to work email being written in bed also leads to the breakdown of the limitations on the role of the "professional". Just as communications technology leads to more work being done at home, the Internet allows for the intellectual entrepeneurship of the online volunteer researcher, the blog-based organizer, the midnight advocate. As Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody makes clear, individuals who can organize without centralized leadershp form a new, powerful, agile force, harnessing what has been dubbed the "cognigitive surplus" to redefine the way we organize our ideas and ultimately ourselves.

While this may have some effect on the modes of our relaxation, the effects on business, government, and society will more than make up for them.

(full disclosure: I often work in the middle of the night.)

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