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A subway advertisement on my usual daily commute to work caught my eye. It was for The School of Philosophy in Ontario boasting a curriculum that is more than just what it calls “armchair philosophy,” or a philosopher who is not really involved yet comments on the discipline. Instead, the ad read, the school allows students to “Live in the moment. Awaken to the power of being present.”

Is there any such thing as “armchair IT,” I wondered.

The fact that the management of an organization’s IT is becoming increasingly centralized is a form of armchair IT. I recall at a previous employer IT support was delivered to employees by an offsite third-party provider, whose staff would access our desktops remotely while we described the technical problem on the phone.

The use of thin clients, too, where IT can easily manage and update individual machines in a remote, centralized manner is popular in sectors like health care.

Unlike armchair philosophers, “armchair IT pros” are not less involved in servicing employees. They just aren’t necessarily physically present, and don’t really need to be given how well connected the most distributed organizations are nowadays.

IT management aside, the “armchair” approach easily applies to many aspects of our lives given the plethora of mobile devices and degree of connectivity available to us. Distance education courses is one such example. Another ad on the subway for an online distance education school, showing a woman sitting in an outdoor location perhaps a bus terminal working on her laptop, read “It’s not just a commute.”

Seeing that ad reminded me of a question my colleague posed me the other day after I told him I am shortly scheduled to cover an out-of-country conference: “Are you going there actually or virtually?”

How fitting.


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