The tech balance.

Week 5 ILD 831 Assignment 11/22/2013

Develop a list of opportunities that networked workers bring to an organization, as well as challenges associated with networked workers.  Keep the focus of your initial post and responses tied to this week’s learning objectives:

  • Describe the pros and cons associated with freely available internet access to workers.
  • Discuss ways that challenges brought by the internet can be co-opted as opportunities.

A networked worker is a person who commonly uses e-mail, the Internet, cell phone and other digital media to do their professional work as well as to attend to their personal matters (Techweb, 2008).

Networked Workers Opportunities:

  1. Networked workers bring the diversity of their contacts to the organization.
  2. They bring flexibility to the organization as they have the ability to function for the business outside of normal routines.
  3. Technological communication devices make work easier (not always better) (Techweb, 2008).
  4. Networked workers find it easier to communicate ideas (Techweb, 2008).
  5. Working from home equates with the perception of increased benefits by the networked worker, as commute time is limited.

Networked Workers Challenges:

  1. It is expensive to continually upgrade technological communication devices.
  2. The flexibility of technology also brings another level of stress to the worker (Techweb, 2008).
  3. Communication technology intensifies the demands on the worker to work more hours.
  4. Networked workers experience blurred boundaries and have difficulty keeping work time and personal time separate.  Thus, they experience less time thinking/worrying about work responsibilities when they are supposed to be rejuvenating themselves in their free time from work.
  5. Networked workers get distracted from work by their personal business that is so easily connected to at work via the devices.

According to Madden and Jones (2008), white-collar workers possess more technological devices.  The tables below summarize the networked worker:

Like in many other areas of life, it is imperative that a person strive for balance and focus on keeping oneself healthy.  Despite communication technology being a good thing, a good thing taken too far or used without limits/rules can quickly become a bad thing.  An example is the automobile.  The automobile had many advantages, but when used with disregard to traffic laws and with poor judgment, negative consequences follow.  However, few people in the United States would choose to live without an automobile once they have access to one.  Thus, one of the on-going challenges of technology is to use it in moderation.  Technology is best balanced with time spent in nature.


Madden, M., & Jones, S. (2008). Networked Workers. Washington D.C.:  Pew Research

Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Techweb.  (2008, September 24).  ‘Networked workers:’ Connected, distracted, stressed. 

Retrieved from


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10 Responses to The tech balance.

  1. lybrarylyon says:

    I could not get the two tables in to Madden and Jones (2008) article to post into the blog.

  2. Good post (and I went back to M&J’s article to see the tables). Now having detailed the pros and cons, what becomes our role as leaders? I agree that we are not going back…but how do we go forward?

    • bonnybarr says:

      Great points. As Leaders I think we have to strive to be good stewards. Not only of tangible resources but of our employees or colleagues quality of life. As a leader I want to have healthy workers in a healthy workplace. Sometimes that may mean encouraging colleagues to “unplug” or not take work home. Likewise, for colleagues who are resistant to entering a flat world, I can work with them on becoming technology competent.

  3. arizona126 says:

    A nice articulate of the challenges. I further the concurrence that we aren’t going back. The challenge is to maintain an awareness of how much we are allowing technology’s intrusion into our lives. I think that I am on the verge of having 24/7 technology consume me. I spend way too many hours of the day connected to a computer screen or a smartphone. While I type this, I am thinking about whether or not to watch a movie on Netflix or go out for a bike ride. Hmmmm? Technology or nature?

  4. acc07855 says:

    I’d like to spin your discussion in the context of two ideas: makers and takers. I’ve actually thought about this in the context of how I use the web and function as a worker. So, the question I am asking is this: are we makers who contribute to the knowledgebase of the web, or are we takers who use it without contributing to it and helping others out? I admit that I’ve mostly been a taker in terms of how I use the internet to either learn how to use/do something or refresh my memory about the functionalities of some software application.
    I’ve tried to transition more as a maker lately, creating technology-based knowledge, creating how-to videos, and encouraging others to do the same too. I actually offer extra credit to my students if they create and post useful knowledge on the web through Facebook, their own websites, or within the Blackboard community of our class. It’s a confederacy of knowledge and skills.
    You cite Madden and Jones (2008) regarding the networked worker. However, what do you think of the nature of the networked worker? Is it one way or is it bidirectional? Are networked workers makers or takers? There’s no shame in being a taker, but it’s awfully cool being a maker.
    I am a committed servant leader and I like the idea of two-way communication: of being a maker and taker.
    What do you think?

    • Neat spin – makers vs takers. My own “take” is that the web has fundamentally changed in the last decade, such that emerging sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and others assume a “maker” norm. A decade ago, most people were takers – they “surfed” the web. Today’s web is much more participatory and emerging tools have greatly lower the bar for making. Consider my presentation at SLOAN, which involved Prezi, a locally built YouTube video, and web conferencing via Google Hangout. Not bad for someone whose background in educational leadership! 🙂

  5. While reading your post about automobiles, it made me think of my own car and the technology in it. When I first bought it I was amazed that I could play DVD’s on the screen in the front console. I was so excited about this possibility, but realized that the DVD would not play if I put the car in drive. While there are negatives associated with technology, such as texting while driving or watching a movie while driving, technology is catching up by preventing some of the negatives from occurring. There is the potential for text messaging to be blocked while driving, especially for teenagers. I agree that balance and moderation are key to success of networked individuals, but feel that technology will catch up with certain aspects by promoting safety and blanche in the future.

  6. jvap2013 says:

    I appreciated the fact that you included the finding that “white-collar workers possess more technological devices” in your post (Madden and Jones, 2008). I think too often we assume that everyone is connected – and that simply is not the case for many Americans.

    As Smith (2012) reported, there are “an estimated 100 million Americans who have no way of accessing the Internet at home” (p. 6). In the Bronx, alone, less than 40 percent of residents had access to broadband service – which is concerning given that the borough is part of the largest city in our nation (Smith, 2012).

    The lack of such technology – or the ability to utilize such technology – limits the ability to connect much less network with others. While the Obama administration has made efforts to expand the availability of broadband but for many the cost of such access or service is prohibitive (Smith, 2012).

    At the same time that we continue to struggle to increase the access to such technology here in the United States, its use in other countries is revolutionizing communication. As Sachs (2013) wrote, the widespread distribution of Smartphones is credited with significantly reducing poverty in Africa and transforming “education, health care, finance and agricultural value chains” (p. 10). Technology has also provided much needed assistance in controlling malaria in Africa.

    We know from this week’s readings that technology can be utilized for either good or evil purposes (Friedman, 2007). Since we can’t prevent the evolution and advancement of such technology, we should not seek to prohibit access to it. Instead we should ensure that technology and access to it is readily available here in the U.S. and abroad. As Friedman (2007) wrote regarding his conversation on technology with Rabbi Tzvi Marx, “It is essential that we use this new ability to communicate and collaborate for the right ends – for constructive human aims. Collaborating so mankind can achieve its full potential is God’s hope” (p. 604).


    Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World is Flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

    Sachs, J. (September 24, 2013). The End of Poverty, Soon. The New York Times. Retrieved from

    Smith, G. (March 1, 2012). Without Internet, Urban Poor Fear Being Left Behind In Digital Age. Huff Post Tech. Retrieved from

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