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The Luddite

I’m a pretty tech-positive guy. Not just in the “I-have-a-lot-of-gadgets” sense, but in the sense that I believe that technology does good things for humanity. That said, it’s good to think of tech in terms of its costs as well.

Tony Long, the copy chief for Wired News, has started a column at that site called The Luddite, which serves as a nice reminder that we shouldn’t blindly leap forward into technologies without thinking about the prices we pay.

Long hits a few particularly apt points:

For one thing, human beings are not meant to go as fast as modern technology compels them to go. Technology might make it possible to work at warp speed, yes, but that doesn’t make it healthy. And just because the latest software makes it feasible to double your workload (or “productivity,” to you middle-management types), that shouldn’t give the boss the right to expect you will.

With cell phones, IM and all the personal-this and personal-that, we’re connected all the time, or “24/7” as the unfortunate jargon has it. Is being connected 24/7 a good thing? Isn’t it healthy to be “off the grid” now and then? If you can’t answer “yes” to that question, you may be a tech dynamo, my friend, but please stay the hell out of my cafe.

These issues are on my mind a lot as I have embraced many of the technologies and associated lifestyles that Long mentions. Do I make myself “too” available to my colleagues and supervisors by answering my cellphone anytime that someone calls? Is my standard of living suffering from my ability (and willingness) to work from anywhere, at anytime? Is my lifestyle hurting the environment and/or other people?

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