Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Smartphone Trend is Dumb

Do you have an iPhone yet? According to this New York Times article there has been a lot of growth in the smartphone market as job seekers try to look competitive to potential employers. This seems like backwards logic to me, just having a smartphone does not deem you a good job candidate. This article I feel is such a misrepresentation of the smartphone experience that I feel I need to blog about it. I also deeply question the New York time's bias here since they are clearly advertising lots of smartphones in their paper. Is this news? Or is this a big ole ad?

If somebody genuinely wants a Blackberry, Palm, or iPhone then of course they should have one, but they are all quite expensive and each of them require a $30 monthly commitment just for the data plan alone. That's $360 a year in addition to the expense of the phone, and on top of your regular monthly calling plan. Who remembers the good old days when the phone was cheap? This looks like a "bubble" to me, if I were a business analyst I would watch out.

Of course the iPhone is fun to use, but being able to send and receive emails at any time, is not so fun. Are we going to wake up in a few years to a world where everybody expects you to reply to them RIGHT AWAY!? If you're job hunting this might make a good first impression, but then you get known as the person who's really good at replying to messages quickly, you're passively committing to being on call all of the time. This doesn't prove anything about your ability to problem solve or make decisions.

I would never hire somebody simply because they have a smartphone. I view these devices to be an encroachment into the workplace and I can picture a coworkers texting their friends, or posting remarks online, activities that have nothing to do with work. Cognitive research has taught me that one little "alert" message, a 1 second distraction of your attention, can cause a fifteen minute loss of productive workflow. I am careful as an interaction designer not to allow such distractions to creep in to my designs.

Finally, there's the show-off factor. Yes the iPhone is sexy (I do own an ipod touch). Yes Apple knows how to design products. But I would judge a colleague on the body of their work as opposed to the possessions they own. I hope the world doesn't judge me because of what I do, or do not own.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Working on Vacation (and it's alright)

I just got back from a week long trip to Asheville and the Great Smokey Mountains. It was fantastic. North Carolina has it all; beauty, culture, and natural wonder. I drove from Washington DC, my goal simply to explore and relax over a long Memorial weekend. On the drive I heard a few radio shows talking about the work vacation. Because of the economy, it sounds like people are afraid to step away from the office for fear that it will make them look bad, and then (maybe) they'll be targeted for layoffs. Some folks must be really stressed out about their jobs! So the work around, of course, is more technology and connectivity. The radio shows spoke to all the usual stuff like checking email all the time from your mobile phone.

I'm pleased to report that MY personal experience with the work vacation was good! I brought my laptop which was already set-up with the files I needed. I made sure that I got as much work done as I could before I left. I communicated to everyone that I was going away, and how I could be contacted... there's plenty of connectivity in North Carolina. During my trip, I needed about six hours to make sure that my client was happy. Some design details on the project got refined and I was able to spend most of my trip relaxing without a single worry.

Now that I've got my vacation workflow in place I'm ready for summer. I can't wait to check out the beaches later this summer. Now, I'm contemplating sending my resume to Carolina companies. Let's see what happens.