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The Cost of Staying Connected

4:10 PM -- Tuesday's night's North American BlackBerry outage is a reminder of just how much our working lives have changed. From the guy I know who checked his RSS feeds on his honeymoon, through to that all-important memo that arrives in the middle of your child's Little League game... We are all available, all the time.

Back in the good ol' days, when you switched off your laptop or PC, you at least had the comfort of knowing you were out of email reach.

Staying connected has a cost that's not necessarily measured in dollars: As technology becomes more invasive and the working day stretches well into the night, it is inevitable that aspects of personal and family life will take a hit.

One speaker at this week's SNW event in San Diego argued, for instance, that there may be fewer women in IT these days owing to the lengthening hours worked by IT professionals. "The work hours in IT are quite challenging -- last-minute crunches are particularly draining for women that have to manage the burden of raising children," said Patty Then, principal product manager at CA Inc. (NYSE: CA).

Later, in the elevator, I overheard two conference attendees discussing the BlackBerry outage. One was upset that his "CrackBerry" was silent, whereas the other was enjoying his "BlackBerry break."

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