Shadow work

I heard an interesting interview on Radio National Life Matters interviewing an author Craig Lambert about his book and the subject of Shadow Work.  Shadow work, according to the author, is the growing multitude of insidious and tedious tasks that were previously not our responsibility or didn’t exist. And as a consequence our time is getting leached away.  The main examples cited, that I heard, were self-service petrol pumping, the growing trend of self-service checkout process at supermarkets, and self-service banking.  It was easy in listening to just dismiss it as old ways and old school way of doing things, but when the issue was stated that allegedly these self-services mean for reduced prices and more convenience it does make you wonder and reconsider the situation.  The reduction in service,  and the reduction in people interaction.  And particularly in academia with more and more administrative tasks becoming more and more shadow work in your daily life it does make you think.  Emails, online staff development forms and processes , online forms for leave, organizing your own leave for  approval, getting your own parking permit, reporting your progress on projects, self-checkout/check in  units for loans.  It does make you think. What additional forms of shadow work can you think of?

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One Response to Shadow work

  1. Interesting thing to think about. Thanks for sharing. It may even prompt a blog post from me. I don’t think shadow work has done anything for improving efficiency or reducing costs. Lack of personal interaction makes me wonder what communication will be like in the future. Will we ever really know the people we are “conversing” with – now that’s deep! I think I might need a drink or two to really ponder that one.

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