DECEMBER 20, 1996 PROF. GARTNER
COPING WITH COMPUTERS
While the twentieth century has proven to be a technological revolution, there has not been a single development with as much impact on our day to day lives than that of the computer. For many, the development of the modern computer has provided more widespread business opportunities, greater production efficiency, and greater convenience at both work and home than any other innovation has provided us with.
Many of the degrees earned today did not exist twenty years ago. Many of the computer sciences degrees are based on technologies that were not even developed not so long ago. The resulting situation is a work force that has been caught with their 'pants down.' For many of the senior members of this workforce, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with newer college graduates in today's computer world. This article deals with the feelings of one particular person in this position.
Linda Ellerbee, a journalist and author owns a television production company. She also has her own column in Windows magazine. Her experiences with modern computer technologies range from the terminals of the 1970's all the through today with the Internet and e-mail.
One of her first experiences with a computer involved sending a message over the AP news wire. As it turns out, she expressed her candid opinion on some very sensitive topics at the time, including but not limited to the Vietnam War. Consequently, the AP was not amused with the message and she was fired. At the time, this incident was popular enough to make it into Newsweek magazine.
Later on, she moved into television as a reporter, but now owns her own production company, Lucky Duck Productions. Here, she realized that computers act as the driving force in a technologically based industry. She also realized that the younger generations are certainly more comfortable and at home with personal computers.
While running her production company, she tells of her experience with her favorite 'ghost employee.' In her efforts to find a system administrator, she was referred to Columbia University's Center for Telecommunication Research. There, she negotiated a salary via e-mail, and whenever a system needs to be set up the ghost does it over the Internet. Of course, the bill is sent with e-mail as well. As of yet, she still has never seen the system administrator.
Despite her negative or unusual experiences with the technological revolution, Ellerbee admits that she does appreciate the technology that she and her office uses. She says that she has come to peace with technology, and I would have to say that her adaptation to this new system of operating is very admirable. Unfortunately, not everybody in Ellerbee's position is as adaptive to this type of change as she was. However, with children working with computers early in grade school, it will be doubtful if many upcoming professionals suffer from computer-phobia like so many do today.