Monday, July 12, 2010

Technology and Workplace Hierarchy

About thirty years ago, a book was published called Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat. The book discuss Putt's Law, which essentially states:
"Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand."
as well as "Putt's Corollary":
"Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion."
Basically, this law states that those in a hierarchy, in most cases a working office environment, who work directly with the technology (think data enterers) will be the most technologically competent, while those who are less techno-savvy move up into management. If you work in administration, I'm sure you will agree that this is common.

I'd also like to share three other well known principles, while originally humorous in nature (you can read their history at Wikipedia), also seem to ring true amongst many of my fellow admin friends and cohorts.
  • Peter Principle: "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."
This one refers to promotions and advancement- someone will keep moving onward and upward until they reach a position which they are not qualified/ competent to perform and will henceforth stay there.
  • Parkinson's Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
Anyone who's ever written a paper for graduate school can attest to this. Next there's...
  • Dilbert Principle: "companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management (generally middle management), in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing."
This one I don't think is true. But you might disagree!

I think these 'principles' are interesting because they illustrate the collective knowledge that exists amongst administrative employees of a lower-level rank all across the world: all types of workers from different industries, countries, and cultures will chuckle and agree that there is universal truth to these statements.

Certainly I don't agree that these principles apply to everyone- I've personally had some wonderful managers in my day that are technically adept as well as perfectly competent.

But I've also had supervisors that ask me to send emails for them, or who can't fix a copier jam and will wait until I return from vacation. My friend over at Office Park Idiocracy (see links) shares her hilarious tales of miscommunication, micromanagers, and more at her blog.

No doubt about it, there's a common disconnection between the upper levels of management and their employees, particularly when it comes to technology. It can be frustrating and time consuming for lower level employees to take time out of their work day to train or assist other coworkers on newer technologies. Many companies now offer training to employees on technology, but it is not always mandatory. Why would a manager go to training when they have staff in their office that can do something for them? The motivation often just isn't there. I think, though, that it is important that all members of a team be trained equally in the technologies that are needed for their jobs so as not to place the burden on the more technically advanced members.

All this got me thinking about a book I read this winter for another course, "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. Pink discusses the innate differences between left brained and right brained thinkers: logico-rational for the left, emotional, big picture thinkers for the right. Often technology just doesn't come easy for some, but they are good at looking at the big picture, so they get promoted to upper level, big picture level jobs. But then they lose touch with the left brainers down below who are crunching the numbers. Ideally, we should look for managers that are right in the middle: who can see the big pictures, but can also understand the intricate details of the work their employees are doing on a daily basis, often with all sorts of new technologies.

What do you think? Do these 'principles' ring true? Have you ever been in a position where you were leaned on for your techno expertise and was it a drain on your productivity? Comments!

(Thanks to Wikipedia for all my research!)'s_Law's_Law

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Arts/Technology Rationale: a.k.a. awesome + more awesome= :D

For class, we need to write a post about why technology in the arts is so important.

For me, it's an obvious combo. I've been raised on the internet, I am about as dependent on it as you can get. This techno-savvy also obviously extends out to digital photography, video, online entertainment, etc. I'm all over it, all the time. (Really, I come home from spending all day at a computer to sit all night... at my computer. It's sad, really. Someone please, please come get me out of the house.)

One would think, then, that I must not be cultured if I just sit in front of a glowing screen all my life? (OK, maybe this is an exaggeration. I do get out. Sometimes.) But no- all these new medias (media? mediums? mediae?) that surround my life have helped me to expand my knowledge of art and my personal network of artists. How do I find new plays to see? Galleries or festivals to visit? Where do I see a video of a new singer that I want to see live? Online. The internet and it's various outlets and media forms are the gateway to new, diverse, multi-cultured forms of expression. Once I can get a taste of something, see who else is enjoying it (thanks to social media invading every corner of the web), and get more information about where, when, and how, I am more apt to go.

And this is just in my personal life. Young adults and teenagers live and breathe the internet. We all have smartphones, laptops, cybershots. To get our attention, you need to speak our language. Younger students are going to sit up and pay attention once they see that they can connect the art they are learning in class to the art they enjoy through their various forms of new media. The internet and technology aren't going anywhere. It's crucial to create new, interesting connections between the arts and new media in order to stay relevant and fresh, because the students/ audiences are going to be online anyways, looking for the newest, freshest thing. We (as teachers/artists/arts admins) might as well be it.

Inaugural Post

Hi world!

Thanks for visiting my blog! This blog is dual purpose; it's needed for my New Media course, but I hope too that I will finally get down to business with having a blog. I've started some in the past, but this one should hopefully stick!

I really don't have any strict guidelines for what topics I am going to post just yet, as my interests are varied, but I guess this is more of an experiment for me to see what shape and direction it takes on. I've been a passive interest browser for years but until recently, and aside from posting on facebook, I've never really put my own thoughts out there on the web.

Then I became addicted to twitter... and jezebel... and my interest internet media exploded. Then I started studying media literacies in my program, and thought that it was time for my to try my hand at having my own blog.

My main interests and specialties are grant writing, development/fundraising, administration, marketing, etc for arts and nonprofits. However, there's a good I'll be posting on things relevant to myself, like city living, Boston news, feministy thoughts on the world, and whatnot.

Thanks, and stay tuned!

Artsy Admin