Working fast and slow: beyond email, blinded by technology

In the beginning was the email. Until mid-1990s, jobs consisted mostly in talks, and sometimes emails were used, as a pioneering form of digital methodical communication.

Then, until a few months ago, we were used to work basically with emails. The mechanism was simple and effective, although we soon reached a peak.

According to the following diagram, 54% of smartphone users reads email on their smartphone just before they go to bed sometimes or even often, whereas 49% reads email on their smartphone immediately when they wake up. 58% reads email on the phone on holiday.

Moreover, according to the Adobe “2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits”, 79% uses their smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who used it for making calls.

A few months ago, sms and social networks added up to the number of digital tools for work. According to We Are Social, Italians spend on average 6.7 hours a day on the Internet (either on mobile, or on desktop), and 2.5 hours are spent to use social networks, the global average being 2.4 hours (and 2 hours in France, and 1.9 hours in Spain – as a comparison). Whatsapp, for instance, counts for 900 million monthly active users, a dramatic increase for this social network, which peaked 800 million users only in April 2015.

Specifically, Whatsapp brings a new way of understanding working tasks. Usually, these are quick assignments to be done faster, and lead to an unprecedented communicational immediacy.

However, it ties us down to an answer. Right, because with the innovation of the blue check marks (indicating that the message was received and read) we can no longer say to have missed something, so this interpersonal language can do anything but create a greater sense of urgency, and involve even the issue of mutual respect. As if we are blinded by technology…

The language changes, the communicative level changes, interactions get easier in the informality of a message and go back to, say, a more personal sphere.

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner in Economics, wrote a best-seller book, Thinking fast and slow, analysing the way we think fast and intuitively, or slow and deliberately. Our approach to communication puts itself in an inevitable mix of both aspects.

Connectedness became a useful and hurrying necessity of our time – opposite to the “freedom of no answering”… – and, even more, a way to accelerate bureaucracy and processes in a frugal, low cost and effective way. Will this be the road to a sustainable development?

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