Technology is changing how many folks work, or are able to work, in today’s economy. I think that this can be characterized as changing the nature of work simply by its altering workloads significantly. This altering frees up time that is likely absorbed by new tasks – so the old job may even become unrecognizable. The new work has to be accommodated, as noted by Chamberlain when referring to automation: workers increasingly need to build skills that are complementary to technology – learning to run the machine, not doing the same work the machine automates (https://www.fastcompany.com/3066605/the-future-of-work/these-are-the-top-5-workplace-trends-well-see-in-2017). Technologies that allow workers to co-author documents (at the same time), and attend virtual meetings rather than physically traveling to a meeting are examples where web technologies can return many hours to a worker. How that time is recycled can easily change the nature of work.
I think it is difficult, and certainly premature to pass judgement on the good or bad of the web in this regard. I agree with Weinberger (2011) that we can use it as a tool to learn about the world, or not, or teach our children, or not. Though his discussion about the disruption of knowledge focuses primarily on the impact to those who traditionally provided knowledge to the masses. It may change their existence, and the power structures around traditional knowledge creation, but it is primarily an enabler for the majority of both the new producers, and any consumer of knowledge. I agree with Weinberger that the web is letting ideas relax into their real shape (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPXmEh24KXA&feature=youtu.be).
Husband refers to the information flow as eroding the pillars of rigid traditional hierarchies. He claims that this new set of conditions (i.e., wirearchies) is having real impact on organizational structures and the dynamics of these structures (http://wirearchy.com/what-is-wirearchy/). But I don’t see a dichotomy between hierarchies and wirearchies. I think that most organizations will operate hierarchically, but be enabled (or disabled in some cases) by the connectedness and readiness of information provided by wirearchies. For example, Gartner notes that digital leaders must think about technology in a fundamentally different way; past just enabling existing visions and strategies, to creatively disrupting with new innovations and opportunities (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2745517). They note that it requires requisite variety to ask new questions and to think differently about issues leveraging elements such as co-creation and crowdsourcing (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2745517).
But all this progress circles back to people. The collaboration tools mentioned above have to be adopted by most folks in order to be leveraged. Not all technology that enables is propagated virally. It comes back to psychology and understanding how to truly leverage the new technology opportunities. People resist change naturally, and often for good reason. For example, Microsoft Delve provides analytics about a user’s behavior using certain tools (e.g., how many emails sent during an online meeting). This information is meant to provide insight to help a user be more productive, but it can easily be seen as “big brother” keeping track of my activities. Understanding these resistance points, and mitigating the resistance with communications and other tactics, rely on softer psychology skills that the technology itself does not accommodate – until an A.I. computer (likely named Freud) will address this as well.
Weinberger, D. (2011). Too Big to Know. New York: Basic Books.