I think this is a potentially great idea by Alton Towers (spotted by David Hay), piloting a PDA-free zone in their parks. Whilst I fully embrace and evangelise about the ubiquitous connectivity that is now possible and work being something you do not somewhere you go – I find it maddening that some people simply cannot let go. I have several over-eager friends who on receiving their first Crackberry couldn’t go out to dinner or to the pub without it. Often they would annoy everyone around them by breaking off social contact with people they were talking to in real life to pick up a message that simply couldn’t wait for 2 hours.
The irony is that making it possible to communicate with anyone at almost any time by any medium stops us from communicating with people standing right in front of us. It drives me crazy when colleagues will tail off mid conversation with me because something has come up on their PDA which couldn’t possibly wait a few hours – even if they don’t reply the social flow is broken because their attention is distracted whilst they digest the all-important message. Worse, I’ve even seen people do it in front of customers!!
Email and social media on the go are fantastic tools – enabling not only increased productivity but also in terms of a social good by freeing people up from being chained to their desk. You can take the kids to the doctor, work from home to look after children and not have to make the sacrifices that went with a career only 10 years ago. However, it is just as important to be able to switch off, to let the phone go to voicemail and not immediately answer that email – all credit to Alton Towers in their attempt to enforce it, it will be interesting to see what happens!