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Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
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Don't Try This at Home!

Sean Ginevan, one of our frequent contributors out of our Syracuse lab found a study that delves into the addictive nature of the BlackBerry. Anyone who's been around a gaggle of BlackBerry users has surely seen some of the phenomena...

Sean Ginevan, one of our frequent contributors out of our Syracuse lab found a study that delves into the addictive nature of the BlackBerry. Anyone who's been around a gaggle of BlackBerry users has surely seen some of the phenomena mentioned here. People certainly do walk, drive and probably bike will using these things. Here's what I've found. The study I mentioned talks about the addictive behavior of BlackBerry users and the resulting unsafe practices. It also talks about how the BlackBerry is a "significant investement" and that "user training" is necessary. And not just a little training,a quoted expert recommends two hours (of his) training. Because without the training, gosh ??? you'll never achieve the ROI you desire. Nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion - but you have to wonder about the "journalist" who quoted him.

Of course that got me thinking about what this training might cover. Do I really need some guy to tell me that when I scroll down past a phone number and the BlackBerry highlights it, that I can click on it and do all kinds of interesting things like call it, or stick it in my address book? I was able to figure it out, I'm betting that others will be able to as well. One could just read the manual... it takes less than two hours.

And then there's all those things you shouldn't do while reading or composing an email. Even if you aren't clever enough just assume that using the BlackBerry while driving is a bad idea, a few near misses should serve to clue you in. And for those who don't get the clue, I highly doubt the two hour class is going to help. I had a boss once who used to read the Wall Street Journal while driving into work. I know this because he lived near me and every now and then I'd see him do it. The guy was professor of engineering physics, I can assure you there was no class that was going to convince him of the appropriateness of reading the paper while driving. A fender bender or two, now that might have gotten his attention.

It's also not as though the BlackBerry was the first distraction to ever confront drivers. Talking on your cell phone is dangerous enough, but I've known more than a couple who love to send SMS messages while driving. You'll be glad to know that I'm not a fan of it, though I admit I've done it on occasion. Genetics weren't kind to me in that regard, I find it very hard to drive and spell at the same time, and I know it's better if I just don't try. While I'm sure there are a lot of psychoses that lead one to want to read and compose emails while driving, but my guess is that the biggest is simply an inflated sense of self importance. Even though you might not think it's true, clearly the person on the other end of the message can wait for a reply??? you know how you know? They didn't call you. They sent you a nice message that you could read and reply to at your leisure.

So let's just put the BlackBerry down and drive.

Art Wittmann is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio
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