IT doesn’t matter.

I remember reading this article by Nicholas Carr during my graduate studies. I still remember this article today which may or may not relate to the fact that it also helped kickstart the idea for my consequent master thesis. While never before did I think much about cloud computing I started to get really engaged with the matter and how it drastically impacted how we “did IT”.

Technology has fascinated me for some time, going back many years. Since I can call myself a millennial of this day and age, I still recall the days of fixing my cassette with a pencil and mastering the art of Paint on a bulky Windows computer. When I was about 15 years old it started to become the norm to have a phone. One that slides up and down. It was the most fascinating tool I could have wanted. Today my smartphone is heavy, and it doesn’t fold nor slide.

Until today I have seen so many changes that I cannot count them anymore. I cannot count the types of phones and music players – portable and static – I used to own. Truly just the variety they came in. So much has changed and then again, not that much. We have become so used to the constant connection, the faceless conversations, the mind-numbing notification rings.

All of this raised more questions to me than it answered. How can we live in this interconnected digital world? What does it do to us, how we communicate, how we interact with each other?

Photo by Robynne Hu Source: Unsplash.

When the opportunity came up to apply for EINST4INE I knew I had to.

It was the sum and at the same time the continuation of everything I worked on since starting my bachelors in 2013. I explored so many topics in those years and yet I feel that questions remain, they reappear, they arise in new contexts again and again. What topics did I look at so far that still uphold my fascination for understanding digital technologies in a social context?

  • How does the Internet of Things in a smart office environment impact employer-employee-relationships?
  • How can we design humanoid robots when social and cultural bias will be mirrored in their representation?
  • In what way can social data be gathered in a smart home environment?
  • What motivates peers in the Sharing Economy and how does it impact our understanding of the P2P economy?
  • How does a cloud first strategy impact the role of IT staff in an organisation?

It was the last question of my master thesis that made me choose to pursue a PhD that studies the impact of implementing a technology that, through automation, deems traditionally complex and specialised knowledge redundant. Technology has had an enormous impact on our society in many ways. It has brought immense opportunities in so many areas from transport to healthcare, communication, finance. We have become agile, wireless and interconnected. Along with a plethora of benefits we still see challenges, disruption and the solutions we have yet to find.

EINST4INE to me offers exactly this opportunity where I can research a phenomenon that I believe to impact society at large. We have to help organisations, educational institutions and politicians to find those solutions.

Does IT matter?

It certainly has the greatest hold on us in this century than we might have imagined. But then again, it is just a technology. A connection of wires, a power source, switches, motors, microchips. Studying the composition of a computer a long time ago helped me to gain perspective. So did all those theories in Information Systems research. Technology is not the culprit. Carr makes a very valid point when he foresees the commoditisation of IT. Seeing how our utilities—electricity, water, gas—all have become our necessity for life – where would we be today without a computer, without the internet? IT is not something we achieve anymore. We know we can, and we did. What we do now is to go above and beyond. We merge humans and machines, intertwine our lives as much as possible and, as social scientists, explore the best ways to do so without collateral damages to, what we know to be, our society today.

I am dedicated to continuing onto my path, researching for answers that can create guidelines. And I am looking forward to doing exactly that.

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