Thursday, August 24, 2006

I Want a New Drug

When I start playing a particularly good computer game, I can spend hours upon hours playing with little notice of the time passed (Civilization and World of Warcraft come to mind). These games are few and far between. Only the really good ones are ones I can get lost in but it happens, it my commitment can be debilitating to my normal affairs.

Enter a new study from the UK claiming people can suffer medical addictions to their BlackBerry. Like certain video games, this amazing piece of technology can be all-consuming to the user, especially when employers ask employees use them all the time. There are obvious flaws in suggesting that using technology is addictive in the same way as smoking. There are more subtle flaws in suggesting that employees should be held accountable if it is as bad. But the least noticable consequence legal repercussions could have is discouraging new technology.

People want to pull out their BlackBerries all the time because the devices are so very useful. In fact, people use work as an excuse to use their hand held devices. Claiming the company gets them "hooked" doesn't do the job either. Firms also require everyone to use word processing but we don't see Microsoft Word addictions. Information and communication technology (ICT) addiction only happens when people want to use the device for whatever reason. This requires good devices. The moment we start punishing companies for making their employees use great technology is the moment we just gave someone a reason to invent sub-par devices.

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