Do we let machines work for us, or do we work for machines?
I asked myself this, sitting there in a meeting to iron out kinks in our computerized registration process. The way everyone was talking, including myself, I began to wonder -- how were we adjusting to the shift from a manual enrollment system to one using computers?
As I listened to the others voice their concerns, my first realization was how everybody wanted the machines to ease their workload. So there was talk about how long queues at the cashier could be avoided by ensuring that printing of receipts be made faster. And so on.
But as the conversation progressed, I soon realized that we were doing something wrong. We were transposing an "analog" way of thinking into a "digital" system, or a linear way of doing things using a nonlinear delivery system. And we were congratulating ourselves for the ease by which we were processing registrants. (Image is from George Dillon's Writing in Images).
But were we really maximizing the tools we had at hand? Or were we looking at new technology from a "rearview mirror," as Marshall McLuhan would say. This kind of thinking, according to McLuhan, is exemplified in how we gave the name "horseless carriage" for the then new contraption that we now call a car.
So were we using our network of computers and our database as state-of-the-art typewriters and electronic filing cabinets? Apparently we are.
We'll catch up with the 21st century somehow.
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