All the time, everywhere can mean well past midnight, and still actively connected
Yesterday evening I attended a conference after work on personalized medicine and the way our increasing knowledge of individualized human genetics is coming to shape the future of healthcare. This involves a lot of information and knowledge management issues, data access and data ownership included and I may touch on some of that in future blog postings. But I wanted to share a brief story from yesterday that drives home I point that is proving more and more common and for more and more people. While at this meeting, I found myself talking with a couple of other attendees and Skype came up in the conversation. I said something to the effect that I sometimes have to hold Skype meetings at odd hours because of time zone differences, and that is true. I said it, however, thinking that I would get home and have a relaxed rest of the evening and go to bed for the night without that type of delay or distraction. So of course, a couple of minutes after midnight I was starting a Skype conversation with a colleague in Mumbai who wanted to talk about taking his consulting/outsourcing business to a next level. I, in turn, wanted to pick his brains for update information on Indian IT-oriented business process consulting and I did learn some valuable details and I hope I was able to share some value in return. And I did finally get to bed and sleep, after 1 AM my local time and when I had an early start this morning.
I am sharing this as it highlights a quality of life issue that we are all going to have to face as personal and professional lives and the time we allocate to one or the other blur. Ubiquitous, all the time and everywhere accessibility with increasingly rich data and knowledge management and sharing, and communications capabilities have tremendous positive potential. But they can mean getting to bed late and getting tired in the middle of the day and a lot more that is not always so positive. When we are always potentially available, we are never really off from work or anything else and that means we need to establish new limits and set new social contracts – so we can as individuals have private time and private lives.
Our growing technologically based capabilities for connecting and sharing mean we have to find new ways to retain separation, and both for ourselves and our families and for other discrete arenas we would want to retain as having identifying boundaries. This potential for conflict of interest is going to play out as the forces and factors I write of in my technology and ubiquitous computing series evolve and develop, and this will in turn direct how we institute and develop these new capabilities. The coming years are going to be interesting for how we accept and accommodate these new technologies and in how we pressure their implementations to accommodate us.