I’ve found one chapter from Bradley’s Social and Community Informatics: Humans on the Net has me going in 3 different directions. So I thought the best way to address it is in 3 different posts, to keep the focus on the different pieces.
I work for a technological university, definitely one of the top in the Northeast, in the top tier in the country, and is recognized internationally. I have been there for 20 years and have seen an evolution of the affects of technology on what I do. I work in the Career Development Center at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). We are a student service department. Our focus is to help students develop their career and professional goals. We offer on-campus recruiting for students to interview with some of the most sought after national and internationally known companies. It’s not a nickel-dime operation. Thousands of interviews take place on campus between October – November and February – March/April.
The student body that started this year wasn’t even born the year I started. When I started, students would have to physically come in to our office to look at job descriptions for companies. About half the staff had computers, and some people even had one of these!
On a designated day, they had to physically come in again to sign up for the interviews. Job description packets were sorted by major, with some of the larger majors having multiple sets – this created piles that were ream’s high. It’s safe to say, we were responsible for the death of several trees a season. But there were perks to this constant contact. By the end of my first semester there, I knew several hundred of the students by name, face, their worries and concerns, where they were going on vacation, who they were rejected from, and who they got offers from. Twenty years later I still know them when they visit campus, now on the other side of the desk.
Times started to change and we were going to a new system, which took away some of that face time. We went to a phone system for signing up for interviews. Students would be able to know codes to sign up in our network via a phone line. But of course, there were still reasons to come in the office. From this system, it transitioned to a web-based system, and that’s when life changed a whole lot.
Students now are required to have a laptop, which houses their lives – projects, homework, papers, signing up for appointments, signing up for interviews, etc. There is still a little face time, but not like it used to be in the 90’s. I have to say, I miss that. Bradley states, “If technology is used properly, it can give us more time for human contacts. In many cases, however, it may produce the opposite effect.” (p. 80) As technology enhanced, it was certainly important to keep up with, and possibly ahead of the curve when possible. But at the same time, we ended up losing some of the personal connection that is necessary and valuable.
Bradley, Gunilla. Social and Community Informatics Humans on the Net. New York: Routledge