Social Skirmishes: Rosie Warlock on electronic gadgetery

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind

● Whatever happened to the paperless office? A decade ago the idea was all the rage. But there’s not much evidence of it on my desk – it’s just a sea of papers.

In the past 10 years, the amount of paper on my desk has doubled and so too has the information on the computer. I doubt that it makes us twice as efficient and we see our clients less, which might be what some of them prefer (and some social workers, for that matter).

E-mail provides opportunities to upset people who aren’t even in the same room. Many a time, in the throes of anger, I’ve hurriedly hit “send” after composing an irate e-mail. I’ve also been known to include the whole department by pressing “reply to all” when the private correspondence was only meant for the original sender. The moral of these sorry tales? Send in haste squirm at leisure.

Now, the whole team has been issued with a personal digital assistant or PDA – our very own palmtop computer. 

How did we ever do our jobs without glancing at these dinky little handsets every 10 minutes? Now most of my colleagues’ e-mails come with a tagline boasting: “This e-mail was sent from my digital assistant.” Sometimes they are sent just before bedtime or at dawn. A “crack-berry” is how one of my less PC colleagues refers to it, on account of its addictive nature.

Over the years, technology has increasingly intruded on our private and our working lives, blurring the boundary between home and office. Next I’ll be thinking of work in my sleep. Hmmm, come to think of it, I already do that

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