What are the costs of computer literacy? Some people argue that there are no such costs, but I believe there are a few which may be relevant. Does computer literacy affect the way we communicate, and if so, is this necessarily a bad thing? What is our future, as computer literacy becomes a necessity? What are the personal, financial, and social costs, as computer literacy becomes a necessity?
According to Webster’s New World dictionary, literacy is defined as the ability to read and write. There is definitely more than one interpretation of the word "literacy" as we have seen in class discussions and from reading many essays on the subject. The world has grown beyond the understanding of literacy as the ability to read and write- we now have many diverse understandings of the word. But there is a new literacy emerging around the world that will soon demand the immediate attention of everyone.
I am referring to computer literacy. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on computers to take care of our daily needs, it creates a high demand for skilled professionals to maintain as well as take advantage of this technology. The computer job market is like a wave, a technology wave. I had the choice to ride the wave and possibly make a lot of money at the age of only 18. But if I had not decided to go to college now, instead of working full time, there is no guarantee that I would have a job when that technology wave breaks.
Last year, at the age of 18, I was working in a computer software company as a network administrator and making more than some people that have a college degree. Some may look at this as a tremendous opportunity, but I saw it as a possible pitfall. At first, I saw taking advantage of my high computer literacy as having no costs whatsoever, but what I was reluctant to see was that I was not taking any college classes to further my education. This would have proved to be a significant mistake if I had not seen the possible negative aspects of not having a college degree to fall back on. How do you measure that cost or its cost to society? The degree and education that I get by going to college may prove to be a very important part of my future. As new technologies are developed, your job in the market may not be in demand. This is the case with network administration. Novell was a hot networking software package and then Microsoft came along and engulfed the network operat! ing system market with NT Server. Employers are going to be looking for people specialized in the hot fields. I have learned that a job is never permanent, but no one can take your education from you. It’s about having options on your road in life and from what I have seen your education does just that.
Have computers hindered our ability to communicate effectively? The question refers to our ability to fully express ourselves. Many times we just send e-mail that is very brief and doesn’t reveal what we really want to say. We are increasingly taking old-fashioned ways of conversing for granted. The day of telephone calls, faxes, and just good old letter writing are almost phased out. Lets face it, it’s much easier and efficient to send internet mail that can be there in less than 10 seconds than having to hand-write a letter and put it in the mail. It costs you 32 cents and you have to wait days for the other party to receive it. But what will this cost society? New jobs will be created by technology but there is also the unemployment cost to those who lost jobs to technology.
What kind of behavioral cost will come from this? What happens when we can’t negotiate and have no people skills? What are the costs of these skills? Take a look at the way we now communicate with our co-workers. We are merely feet from each other in the office, yet we no longer stand up and walk over to talk with someone face to face. Why? Is it easier to send them e-mail and await a response? We lose many forms of communication this way. We don’t get that one-on-one interaction with each other, we can’t see gestures and body language, and this may even be ground for miscommunication. To me it often seems that we can put aside many of the things that we would not be able to if there was some type of face to face meeting. We can say that we haven’t received that mail, or that we haven’t checked our mail yet. Computers are making communicating easier, but are they making it more effective?
Is there a cost to the technician working with no personal contact? Instead of calling on the phone to report a computer problem, there has been the advent of the e-form. This is yet another alternative to the phone call or talking with someone. The e-form is comprised of a template with data fields that give all the relevant information an administrator or technician would need to come and fix a problem or answer a question. This is a wonderful idea for 3 reasons: (1) You no longer need someone to answer a phone, (2) No lost information between the caller and the technician, and (3) you have the ability to log it in a database to keep track of problems which also allows you to analyze the data to prevent future occurrences. So, conceivably, your computer problem or question could be fixed or answered without ever having to talk to a single person.
Communication is very important to our world. This is how we interact with each other, and ultimately succeed. We need to be able to share information in a smart and efficient manner. The computer lets us do this in many ways. For some though, the computer is financially out of their reach. With the price of computers hovering around the fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred dollar price range, this is not easily attainable for many. The monetary cost of a computer, ironically, seems to be the main cost of becoming computer literate for many people.
The best thing about computer literacy it that once you have it you can keep on applying it. Tomorrow’s technology will evolve from today’s hardware and software. Do you have all the options that you will need in your life? Computers are simply that, another option for your career and your life. It has changed the way we communicate some see it as better and some as worse. As computer literacy becomes a necessity we are faced with the facts that we are an ever-changing society that demands the use of technology. We will keep putting aside the costs of this literacy as long as we only see the positive aspects of a technology-centered future.