I live in a house where there is always something to watch on television, and that something is usually Law and Order. With marathons on multiple channels and the twenty season box set on the shelf, resistance is futile. Filmed in New York City, the long-running crime drama drew on the local talent pool to cast the hundreds of victims, witnesses, suspects, judges and legal eagles required, and I soon learned to take pleasure in spotting actors famous only to a Broadway maven. According to http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/television/2010-05-24-law-and-order_N.htm the show employed 3000 actors each year, equivalent to casting a new Broadway production every week.
It’s a consolation that the source of Jeffrey Thompson’s viewing pleasure is even more niche than mine. Trawling through all 456 episodes, the artist captured a still of every use of a computer in the show. That’s over 11,000 screenshots, and he’s publishing some each day at http://computersonlawandorder.tumblr.com/.
Thompson has chronicled the steady evolution of computer use in the workplace across two decades of television as a reflection of what had happened in daily life. The occasional use of desktop computers in the early seasons, constant use from the late 1990s and the ubiquity of always connected handheld devices as the show drew to a close in 2010 will be familiar to many of us. Computers moved away from being a shared resource for the office, to something on the desk that would be used occasionally, to a physical barrier between colleagues sat opposite each other. There’s a short article about his project at https://www.yahoo.com/tech/law-order-extreme-tech-art-unit-73945801396.html and a pdf of his findings can be downloaded from https://github.com/jeffThompson/ComputersOnLawAndOrder/raw/master/Book/WebRes/ComputersOnLawAndOrder_WebRes.pdf.
For over a decade I’ve witnessed the same transitions in the use of technology in the real offices of our customers. When I joined Artifax as a trainer in 2001, not everyone had a computer so every session began with a quick tutorial on PC skills, such as using a mouse and resizing windows. Organisations were moving to us from paper systems, a change that was often as daunting for the keeper of the paper diary as it was exciting for the manager who could now generate reports. Most didn’t have a server. Mobile phones were only for making calls. Some customers had a computer on the desk adjacent to them, but used it only every now and then to check for email. Many weren’t connected to the internet at all.
Now, courses that used to run for two days can be delivered in less than half the time. Expectations of functionality, speed and portability are high and we love that more of our customers are engaging with technology and its possibilities. The questions asked of our Support team are more likely to be about configuration than functionality and we have a Projects team to manage the steady flow of customisation and integration requests.
Computers have evolved from being a tool to aid a specific task, to the primary means of performing all administration, to something pocket-sized and essential for both professional and personal lives – an increasingly blurred distinction. Our customers now need to work not just from home but on the move, and for it to be as easy as when they’re at their desks. The latest version of our flagship product, Artifax Event, enables them to do just that across a variety of devices and browsers and contains many new time-saving features. This, however, is just the beginning.
The new platform for Artifax Event removes the development constraints of its predecessor, and we’re excited at the opportunity to innovate with our customers. What workflows would save you time? Which new features would enrich your data? What integrations and reports would maximise that data? Are any of your colleagues veteran character actors?
Talk to your Artifax Support provider or email us with your ideas and questions. Just like Jerry Orbach, we’re on the case.