May 11, 2006

Does not compute

Using old computers supposedly leads to people taking more sick leave.

In addition, women in the workplace are far more likely to be dumped with old computers than men. That part I do believe.

In the study, “old” seems to be deemed to be hardware at least three years old, which is not my idea of an old computer.

But here is where we really come undone:

“About two-thirds of those polled also complained of problems like eye fatigue, headaches, and repetitive strain injury (RSI).”

Eye fatigue, headaches and RSI? Caused by “old” computers, but not by brand-spanking new computers? Oh really?

Maybe people feel “undervalued” if not provided with a new computer every 24 months.

Maybe women feel like second class citizens and become resentful when they know that men are given computer upgrades but they aren’t – especially when the former group, clerical and administration staff, probably spend more time actively using their computers.

Maybe some people stupidly believe that they actually require a shiny new computer to do their job properly, even though the only difference is aesthetic, not computer functionality or grunt, so they become inappropriately frustrated with their ability to perform their job and take sick leave.

Toys in the office are a status symbol and these days nothing speaks of illusionary status more than a new toy, even if it’s only the latest new model of a common toy. Unlike mobile phones, computers don’t have new functionality added every 7 minutes. A computer box, a screen and a keyboard serve the same purpose and do the same things, no matter the colour, the age, the shape, or the accumulated biscuit crumbs. A flat screen looks pretty, but it will still give you a headache and eyestrain if you sit in front of it for 10 hours.

Whatever the case, yet another example of researchers pissing good money up against a wall asking the wrong questions, collecting the wrong data and reaching blatantly wrong conclusions, all the while presenting no supporting evidence and establishing no causal links.


Over at Drunka's you can read about virtue and finding your friends in US Federal Prisons.

And my last post as blogsitter at Drunka's place - he'll be home any time now!


  1. I dunno. This sounds a little whiny to me. If women do their job well, they will get better equipment. It's about business and not personal.

  2. Cubicle - I'm only speculating, since the study was done in Europe.

    Based on Oz, that is, down here guys do tend to get the new box, the big screens, the software upgrades, and so on, long before women do. It's not business based, believe me - it's guys doing stuff for guys, for the most part.

    I just don't believe that old equipment is the reason for taking more sick leave. I expect it's a signifier of something else entirely, but I'm only taking shots in the dark about what.