August 23, 2006

Unfettered Internet Access at Work: Required

I have often made the comment that there are a few essentials to life. Food, water, sleep and high-speed Internet. I don't even want to go see the family or go on trips if I'm out of range of the Blackberry. I even type out e-mails or check sports scores while I'm driving, as anytime instant access to information plays such a key role in what I do - for a living, for my hobbies, and as a consumer. So when I hear that some companies still expect people to spend eight or so hours of the day without access to the Web, or only a minimal subset of it, it's enough to make me want to form a union for these oppressed souls, being stuck by "the man".

Surprisingly, today brought news that Microsoft is advocating employers to release the bonds of Internet inequality, because they're finding young jobseekers especially are turned away from companies that don't get it. As Anne Kirah, Microsoft Senior Design Anthropologist (whatever that is) says, "These kids are saying: forget it! I don’t want to work with you. I don’t want to work at a place where I can’t be freely online during the day."

Now, I'm not advocating that workers of the world should unite behind poorly-designed MySpace pages, streaming MP3s and emoticon-filled chatfests on AOL instant messenger, but as we move more and more of our communications, business and information to the Web, you may as well tell employees not to read or eat while punched in on the clock. Companies will be differentiated through their ability to offer full access to the Internet - not so much as a perk, but as a core element that defines the work experience.

"Okay... so the job pays $9.95 an hour? Does it have benefits? A T-1 line? Cool."

Kirah even went so far as to say that taking a mobile phone away from a teenage girl is tantamount to child abuse. We certainly aren't interested in seeing a new wave of harassment claims from the Net deprived now, do we?

Listening to ''Watching Windows'', by Roni Size (Play Count: 3)

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