Blackberries are SO Yesterday

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Blackberry’s, and their competitive counterparts, are tools to help us stay connected in the Information Age. Tools that enable our addiction to “always on” connectivity. Tools that we justify on the basis of helping us be more productive.


All these tools do is stay connected — and force us to lose any perspective about the reasons why we are connected in the first place.

We’ve lost the ability to think about our work. We’ve lost the ability to engage in conversation about the work with others on our team, project, or group in order to make the work better. We’re just answering our e-mail, plowing another activity into submission while thinking we’re actually doing something for the business.

We’re not.

  • Instead of thinking about how to make things better, we send out an e-mail asking twenty people for input. With typos as we type with our thumbs using our “instant connectivity” tool of choice.
  • Instead of clearly defining a task at hand for our co-workers, we send an e-mail from our Blackberry with twenty other e-mails below the line and — because it’s hard to compose rationale thoughts on our little keyboard — we simply send “Well?” out into our co-workers world and expect them to mind meld with us so they know what to do with our musings.
  • Instead of calling up someone to get to the bottom of what is going on, we send an e-mail saying that we don’t understand and ask for five clarifying points about the last e-mail — that could have been answered on the phone in less time than it took to write the e-mail in the first place. We are rewarded by thinking we’ve pushed the ball back onto someone else’s court when, in reality, we’ve lost the productivity of speed by delaying the answer through requesting it through our Blackberry.
  • Instead of having clarity about what we have done and what we are doing, we cover our rear ends though the oft-quoted phrase, “I sent you an e-mail and you never responded.” It MUST be your fault, you don’t have a Blackberry and didn’t answer me at 11 PM at night.
  • Instead of quick communications, we use e-mail to cover our emotional need to stay distant from hard conversations. It may take us hours to compose the right e-mail giving bad news, but it is certainly much easier to stare at our Blackberry than actually talk to the other person. Isn’t it?
  • Instead of thoughtful filing of important reference materials, we simply use the e-mail servers as the reference area of choice. If it wasn’t in e-mail, it must not have happened, right? How many gigabytes of e-mail storage do you have?

It’s time we stepped back from all of our electronic, instant communication toys — thinking how wonderfully cool they are — and start to look at what we’re actually accomplishing.

I can no longer live without a computer. But that doesn’t make me more productive. I can have a Blackberry (in fact, I do), but that doesn’t mean I should be available 24×7 at the whim of anyone willing to write an e-mail and expect a response at 10 PM at night.

Its time to shift from “productive tools” to “productive thinking.”

Breaking a Blackberry Crackberry habit is no easy thing. But, it’s time to put intelligence back into the productivity tool equation.

  • I hope i’m not too late to give a comment. šŸ™‚ For me, email is an evidence that i have actually given certain information, order, answers, warning, etc, to my colleagues about certain issues. Of course, talks and phone calls could follow or precede emails if necessary. However, if there’s a situation where things go wrong, at least i can show to others that I’ve done my part. Phone call or talks can’t prove that. So, this is not about lack of emotion or something. It’s about the evidence… and with Blackberry, emailing is much easier.

    • @Pandu — I don’t disagree on the “evidence” piece for using a Blackberry. But too many people use a Blackberry as the only tool — and it is a poor one at that. Reading e-mail while at a restaurant with your family, 3 AM in the morning, and responding to an e-mail with another when a phone call is faster is a poor use of the tool. “Constant connectivity” does not equal smarts or productivity.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    True enough, Sean! Often talking is much better than e-mailing…

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