In Defense Of Mobile E-Mail 'Addiction'
from the Best-Use-Of-Your-Time dept
There is an interesting Reuters article about how former NY state Democratic Majority Leader Malcolm Smith had a meeting scheduled with billionaire Tom Golisano, a major political fund contributor. (Eschewing the issue of how political contributions are accepted without question, as paid access to our elected officials,) the article describes how Mr. Smith spent enough time on his Blackberry to offend Golisano. The billionaire has clout, and subsequently engineered the ouster of Smith. The article’s true focus, then, is how dangerous it is for people to use their mobile email devices during meetings, during social engagements, in the car with family, etc. It points out how rude it can be, and also point out how it can actually be less efficient, because a person’s attention is split.
That is all true, but whenever one of these opinion pieces comes out, it ignores the other case: that oftentimes at meetings, our attention simply isn’t necessary or productive. In any given multi-person meeting, for what % of the time is each person’s participation and attention truly productive? Is every topic related to you? Could a quick check of email be more productive? I would argue that optimal participation is usually less than 100%. Same goes for conferences: Sometimes the conference agenda will include a speaker that is just not very relevant to your individual interests. Yes, you could learn something by listening, but perhaps you could be more productive by responding to your clients, staff, or boss on your mobile device. I’ve met a few people who take offense at every sighting of a Blackberry, but that’s usually attached to a big ego that takes offense too easily. Not every word you say is golden, or even directed at me. In a one on one meeting, obviously one should be focused on the person in front, and one should not feign listening while actually reading. But in multi-party meetings, there are good opportunities to mentally duck out. A blanket Blackberry backlash isn’t well-reasoned. As in most debates, a balance needs to be struck.