Thursday, March 31, 2005

More stimulating jobs, or more boring jobs?

The first two articles we read this week presented conflicting views about the effect of computers on the job market. "New Technology, Solution or Problem?" suggested that computers would allow formerly complex, skilled, stimulating jobs to be broken down into simple component tasks. "How Computers Change Work and Pay" indicates that computers may eliminate many routine jobs but increase demand for jobs that require complex (not rule-based) communication, thought, or physical tasks.

"How Computers Change Work and Pay" had a lot of data to support its position, but I know that my experience in the working world has been more in line with "New Technology, Solution or Problem?" As an office temp I often thought that my assigned duties could have been carried out equally well by a trained chimp, if not for the fact that a trained chimp would cost more than my labor. On the other hand, my only serious full-time job was as an English-language teacher in Japan, a job that required a lot in the way of interpersonal interaction and complex thought and communication, but no computer skills at all. I sometimes typed stuff up for my classes, but this wasn't required. I could have gotten by doing everything by hand. We had two computers at my school, but they were mostly used for tracking our hours, accounting stuff, and receiving electronic files from the head office.

What do you all think? Are computers forcing us into mundane, repetitive jobs, or are they freeing us for higher-level social and cognitive work?


  1. I suppose it all depends on what field of work you're in. If you work for a design company, there are lots of programs that can be used on the computer to help do different things with designs assisting the employee. As a secretary, the individual would be behind a typewriter if there wasn't a computer. The difference even in simply typing up things is the word processors that can be used to assist in spelling/grammar mistakes. Some jobs might be mundane concerning computer use, but the benefits, I feel, out-way some of the downers that could be seen with the amount of computer use. There's always going to be a downside to any advance.

  2. I feel like a read a number of conflicting arguments between and within those two articles. But one of them did mention the importance of computers in science. I find the the most useful and important use of computers and the reason I wish I were a comp sci major but stuff of that level is rarely if ever taught in the levels of schooling they speak of in these articles. I feel that most of what is taught in school is how to use microsoft and only microsoft products so that you are prepared for typing college papers and later to enter the secretarial work force. It's not if computers are part of enducation it is how they are part of education. I must say also that most people will tell you, comp scientists included that you don't have to be a computer scientist to use them in the science, engineering and math fields. You just need to have a use for them and you can teach yourself. I've never tried but I'll take their word for it.