Elena R's Blog

Friday, April 01, 2005

Look, everybody! We Have Our Voices Back!

After reading the continuation of Cluetrain Manifesto, I found David Weinberger's chapter to be insightful and an accurate representation of the impact that the Internet is having on society. Now the Internet is no longer viewed as just another mechanism for people to connect with others who are lands or oceans apart, but it is now a network that is slowly and surely disassembling the whole organizational chart. The change is definitely an advantage for many individuals of society who desire to feel temporary release from an organized and an overwhelmingly stressful world. After all, everyone needs a little bit of personal chaos and emancipation from the norm in order to really have a taste of the fruits of their labor.

One of the points that I found to be interesting was the emphasis placed upon management and control. Weinberger explained how many corporations have systems and meticulous methods that they employ in order to be reassured that potential surprises occur in a conventional fashion. So, if a computer shuts down in one of the departments, if classified information is exposed to the press, or if there are unaccounted for missing funds, there is a solution that is ready at their disposal. Yet, Weinberger makes the distinguishing fact that there is not a solution to every problem. He reveals how there are certain events that can occur beyond anyone's control and despite all of the precautions that the company may take, there may not be any plan that can alleviate a complicated situation. When such an event occurs, people may lose faith within the organized system because there may have been a guarantee that these methods would effectively abolish any potential incidents from occurring. The company may have persuaded the people that their plans were sufficient to regulate such events. But, when there is a revelation of a flaw in their methods, then it is seen as a huge letdown. I think that we are a society that is very time orientated. People have a need to condense and organize their time so that speeches do not run over time in a forum, that we can clean the house before company arrives, or leave work in order to beat the rush hour. From my observations, whenever people have a task to perform at a specific time and they are thrown off schedule from accomplishing it, everyone becomes disorientated because we have been programmed to structure our day around time.

Another point that I found to be enlightening are the rules of the workplace. Obviously, there are a code of ethics that people must follow in order to prevent conflicts and to reinforce the idea of behaving in a professional manner. Yet, Weinberger mentions a rule that grabbed my attention, which is about managing one's personal life so that it does not pose as a distraction in the workplace. Immediately, I thought of the movie, "The Firm" in which the superiors emphasized the idea of having the perfect family because that in turn would create the perfect diligent worker. It is possible to manage one's life to a certain extent, but I do not think that the issues with home are completely extinguished, even at the workplace. The reality is that the corporations are saying that people should not complain about what is going on in their personal life. Of course if a dear relative passes away or if there is a messy divorce, then the thoughts are going to be evident on the worker's conscience. These thoughts may not be harmful to anyone in the workplace, but the conflicted person's focus on work may not be as ample.

Finally, Weiberger reinforces the idea of self expression on the Internet. He explains how it is a way for people to reveal the multifaceted sides of themselves. At work people have to concentrate on one specific task whether it is accomplishing their bulk of the work, or promoting the image of their company. Yet, on the Internet they can show defiance to conventionality. On the Internet, they can be the wild and loose person that they always desired to be, while at the same time keeping their work identity intact. Self expression enables people to explore parts of their imagination that they conceal from their colleagues and it gives people an interactive outlet for several issues in the world. I remember reading a theory from McLuhan in which he emphasized that many of the objects or mediums we use are extension of ourselves. Well, in this case, the Internet is an extension of our voices. The Internet gives people the power to speak about several subjects whether it is verbally in message forums or abstractly expressed through art on their personal homepages.

Everyone should take a peek at Jessica's link and explanation about the show entitled "The Office". I thought that it was an excellent example of the atmosphere that is in many offices across the world and the emphasis placed upon routine. Also, Alexis makes an interesting point about professionalism and the need for structure as a form of unification within the workplace.