Re: Musings on technology and organizational learning

Robert Levi (
Sat, 10 Dec 94 11:22:57 +0000

George Roth wrote:
>My thoughts are that technology is "just" a tool which can be used in
>different ways by different tool users. In terms of information
>technology and its uses, I have found Zuboff's book, "In the Age of the
>Smart Machine" (1988) to be an excellent treatise on the topic. In
>particular, she distinguishes uses of information technology that automate
>(the 'control' paradigm) with uses that 'informate' (enabling new and
>different kinds of work practices through access to information).
>The philosophy underlying the work of building learning organizations is
>substantially different from that of planned, heirarchical, or
>authoritarian change efforts. The tools that are used to promote learning
>can be used in either change process, but its the philosophy and how that
>philosophy plays out in practice that makes the difference. Technology, I
>propose, is a vehicle that reflects and further its developers'
>approaches, intentions, and interests.
I would agree with everything you've written. I would like to distinguish
technology further by speaking about it in terms of software and hardware.
When it is examined in this way, technology becomes much more tangible and
down-to-earth. My job responsibility includes maintaining networks of about
150 computers,supporting the people who use them, and wading through all the
software, etc. that they need in order to 'informate' more effectively. What
Capra was speaking about is something I have direct experience with, and
that is that there is a lot of 'control' required on my part to keep
everything running smoothly. In working with the technology on that level, I
notice a fundamental difference between that and working with the people,
who don't like to be controled.
My comment simply is that as technology becomes more complex, it becomes
harder and harder to control the complexity, leading to more and more
breakdowns in the structures. Speaking about it this way, I do not see a
difference between 'automate' and 'infomate'...the hardware still needs
quite a bit of control to work effectively. Once that control is lost, users
are much more wary of using the technology because they become afraid of
doing something they can't fix.
Is my meaning clear?
Robert Levi | voice: 303/665-6679, x361
Alexander Dawson School | fax: 303/665-0412
4801 N. 107th St. | email:
Lafayette, CO 80026 | Director of Computing