Quite the long title, I know! But that is essentially who I am these days when I put on my “day job” hat as a “Business Process Consultant” for a major health insurance company. The work world that I plunge myself into is totally transformed from just a generation ago by the ubiquitous electronic media which (to use media philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s analogy), is the “water we swim in”.
In his extensive 1969 interview in Playboy Magazine, McLuhan said…
The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems… are immersing us in a world-pool of information movement and are thus enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind. The aloof and dissociated role of the literate man of the Western world is succumbing to the new, intense depth participation engendered by the electronic media and bringing us back in touch with ourselves as well as with one another. But the instant nature of electric-information movement is decentralizing — rather than enlarging — the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences.
McLuhan called this transformation “retribalization”.
In my mom and dad’s generation the norm of professional “knowledge work” in the U.S. was to have a hierarchy of “bosses” who actively directed your activities within “siloed” groups and departments. Your coworker peers were typically white males of northern European ancestry, with women supporting professional work as secretaries. Most collaboration with those coworkers was done face to face and most written communication was done (by secretaries) using a typewriter to produce written memos & other documents that flowed from person to person in a time frame of days or even weeks. Diagrams, charts and other visual documents were painstakingly built by graphic specialists well in advance of presentations.
But the work world I plunge myself into these days is nothing like that.
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