“Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world” (Shirky, 2008). I truly love this quote. Originally scripted by Archimedes, but today applicable to the technological advances of a generation well connected. From the onset of this journey of study, we have looked at the effect that technology has on our lives. The first challenge faced was whether the scourge of available technologies was enough to allow every person on the planet to take advantage of the benefits of this powerful lever. I feel that technology has a far-reaching effect, but certainly, there are many who do not have the opportunity to harness its benefits. It is here at the beginning that we as leaders find our first opportunity to make a difference.
Flattening the Spikes
It is easy as a leader, with a cell phone, laptop, desktop, iPad and other devices that keep me connected, to look at the world as a flat place with great opportunity to excel. Having made it to the final week of this course, I realize many people who through poverty or poor leadership have not been given the ability to be heard. As leaders now is the time to help cultures that are disadvantaged to take stock in their own technological development (Grimshaw, 2011). Allowing developing countries to take stock in development may be a way to make a difference. Sustainable development and democracy are influenced by the role of science and technology in a society (Grimshaw, 2011). It makes sense that lending should be done to help developing countries focus on advancing their technology. In the past 25 years, as of 2007, only 3.9% of the total lending by the World Bank has went toward the development of science and technology in countries where it is most needed. A flatter world means a more productive world. Technology is not just about being connected to friends, but it allows impoverished countries to better utilize their assets.
Exploring Web 2.0
Jumping back to those that have technology readily available, week 2 helped me explore tools that gave businesses personality. Before digital tools like YouTube, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook and a host of other innovative technologies, the world of business was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. Yes, that was a little melodramatic, but it is safe to say that businesses were faceless, and some even had a reputation for being dark and unfriendly. Web 2.0 has let us view businesses as old friends, with new faces. We can see how companies are helping people make the best of their lives. We see Tweets from companies that make us feel like they are more of our friend than an entity looking to capitalize on our needs. Today’s leaders can follow in the footsteps of business owners like Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen, who have used their Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream success to drive social directives “to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally” (Brands in action, 2012). We know about these directives, because Web 2.0 keeps us connected with the companies that keep us informed on what they are doing.
Managing Knowledge Effectively
With the advent of the Internet and the technological advances of ever more mobile devices, companies have made publishers out of nearly everyone with a cell phone, iPad, or laptop. Sure, I could name a plethora of other devices that make it easy for the well connected to say just what is on their mind, but the picture is clear, we are all producers with something to say. As leaders, it is a top priority to maintain order from the chaos of so many voices. Clay Shirky says, “The only group that can catalog everything is everybody” (Juskalian, 2008). The question then becomes, “How?” One way is to heuristically manage information before accepting it as fact. When evaluating information on the Internet one of the first ways to test the information is to find out who the author is, if there is no authors listed beware (Rheingold, 2009). A second way is to find out who owns the site where information is coming from. A good place to do this is at easywhois.com. As leaders, it is our responsibility to help others help themselves in the area of heuristic understanding.
The Times They Are A Changing and So Is The Work
In the sixties Bob Dylan insightfully sang “The Times They Are A Changing.” The last 7 weeks did not really teach me that work was changing with them, I already knew that, but it did shed light on how rapid work is changing for everyone everywhere. Our society is shifting from labor to automation, from repetitive practice to creative application (Coming to an office near you, 2014). As a leader, I often find myself helping those around me learn new skills and ways of doing things. We have been using fingerprint technology to have jewelry made from the prints we take. Many families love this unique tribute, and I have been training staff members to use the technology to further their ability to help families in this area. This is only one minuet example of how new technology changes the things we must do to improve customer experience.
Networks, Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Weeks 5, 6 and 7 have really helped me see the challenges that networked workers and emerging technologies presented in the area of ethics. As the networks that bind us have join our society together, we must be wary of how we use these technologies. New technologies promise to make life easier, but they also promise to hold the potential to invade our private lives. Cell phones and other mobile technologies allow us to work smarter, but they also force us to work longer. Our down time is slowly being eroded. As a leader, I am aware of the importance of setting boundaries for my employees. Not only boundaries that protect the company, but also boundaries that protect the personal time of those with whom I work. New technologies bring a need for ethical evaluation to determine the most appropriate way to use them.
I have enjoyed looking at all of the ways technology has impacted my life. One of the most valuable things that I have taken away from this class is the realization of so many new technologies that I had never heard of. When I started this journey, I barely knew what Prezi was, and did not know how to use it at all. I had never heard of many of the tools that people were using on the Internet. I did not think about the importance of ethics as new technologies developed. I look forward to the future to see what technologies will be developed next, and if they will match any of the information that I have learned here, or if they will far exceed my expectations.
Brands in action. (2012). Retrieved from Unilever: http://www.unileverusa.com/brands-in-action/detail/Ben—Jerry-s/295851/
Coming to an office near you. (2014, January 18). Retrieved from The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21594298-effect-todays-technology-tomorrows-jobs-will-be-immenseand-no-country-ready
Grimshaw, D. D. (2011, April). Technological innovation can work for the poor. Retrieved from Global : http://www.global-briefing.org/2011/04/making-innovation-work-for-the-poor/
Juskalian, R. (2008, December 19). Interview with Clay Shirky, Part I. Retrieved from Columbia Journalism Review: http://www.cjr.org/overload/interview_with_clay_shirky_par.php?page=all
Rheingold, H. (2009, June 30). Crap detection 101. Retrieved from SF Gate: http://blog.sfgate.com/rheingold/2009/06/30/crap-detection-101/
Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody. Penquin Books: New York.