I agree, Nancy--I'm a book person. For reading long documents, it's hard to beat print. OTOH, the way we use print pages is what's behind the multi-page PaperTab we wrote about here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=257520
Good point about the eye strain, Ann. I can't bring myself to buy a Kindle or a Nook. There is nothing like holding a good old-fashioned book or magazine in your hands for a good read and to get away from the computer screen!
I agree about paper catalogues, Nancy, and for a couple of other reasons as well. They come to me--I don't have to think about looking for something and then go look for it, so they save me a lot of time and energy. Plus they're not on a screen so I'm not getting yet more eyestrain.
Me too, Ann. I think we lose a lot by not conversing in person when the topic can lead to exploring different areas that just wouldn't happen via email. But then, I still prefer paper catalogues instead of CDs. While it is so much easier to plug what you are looking for in a search box, you don't get to see all the neat stuff that you would when you are flipping through a catalogue trying to find something...ideas come from different places and if we take away these types of interaction, then those places begin diminishing...
I agree with the trends listed below. With my smart phone, laptop and an internet connection I can set up my 'virtual', portable office at home, in the airport, at the coffee shop or just about anywhere else and do basic office work. I expect this trend to continue to grow.
On another note, I also see technology (and sometimes engineers) more and more being looked upon as a commodity resource in many areas. Instead of hiring and maintaining permanent, full-time domestic engineers, many companies now are trying to just hire contract engineers until the project is finished or farm out the simpler tasks to oversees engineers who will work for less. This will continue to push the evolution of our work day as this trend continues to grow.
Another thing that we didn't count on was the financial crunch of a sagging economy. When money gets tight, all the best intentions for better work-environments get squashed. Here's a true story of one CFO of multi-national corporate giant who compared his total available work space in Square Feet of facility (measured in the millions, across several states) compared to the headcount of his technical staff. His simple solution was to maximize SF to people; squeeze more people into common areas by reducing cubicle sizes down to 6'x7' and sell off the extra floor space saved. He reasoned that relocating families across the country was economically prudent and he sold-off entire plants while consolidating workers. This is a true story about an Electronics Giant you've all heard of, and the bottom line was not a happy one for them.
The more you mention it--I think you are probably correct. We see evidence of "creeping" technology in these areas. I suppose the one that really concerns me most is the privacy issue. Some months ago I decided to join Face Book to communicate with my granddaughters in Atlanta. BAD IDEA. I discovered quickly, there are just some things a grandfather does NOT need to know. With that out of the way, my fall-back position was text messaging. They will respond to a text message when a phone call won't get the job accomplished. I am amazed at how social media has taken hold and seems to occupy huge chunks of time--certainly wilth the teens and 20-somethings. Blows my mind.
Chuck, I also remember that supposed trend--four 10-hour days a week--a bit later, during the 80s. That was another wave of the future that didn't happen, except in a few cases. In some places, everyone went back to normal after awhile, but I knew other people whose work week expanded from 40 to 50 hours. Seems like that happened to lots of jobs filled by exempt employees.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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