What an Asset

6:00 PM -- It's not often I get to use the word "draymen" in a story, but I did today in writing about the use of RFID technology in beer-keg management in the U.K. brewing industry. (See Brewers Tap Into RFID.)

It's easy to get a cheap laugh out of these guys -- I imagine them as aging soccer louts -- microwaving RFID tags for fear they're being spied on in their daily truck rounds. One of the beauties of wireless technology is its potential to overturn outmoded ways of doing things and rejuvenate outdated industries -- like, for instance, the beer-transport business.

But there's a little bit of Luddite in us all. I am hardly the only person I know who had to be almost forced (by the arrival of my first-born son) to finally get a cellphone; actually keeping it turned on and with me has been about a five-year process.

Ditto instant messaging. The company I work for is real big on IM; I've always hated it as an obnoxious tool for Type A intrusives. Now, though, I don't have a choice; and I've discovered that for a one-man bureau communicating with offices in London, New York, and Los Angeles, often at the same time, it's invaluable.

And as far as the potential for constant employee monitoring, well, there are two responses.

First, the RFID tags on kegs are there to track the kegs, not the draymen.

And second, if the drivers are stopping off at their local to sample some of the wares they're carrying in their trucks, somebody ought to know about it, right? In the same way, if I'm going to knock off for three hours in the middle of the day to go get a few turns in at my local ski hill, well, my editor has a right to know about it I guess.

In other words, as always-on, "presence-based" technologies become more prevalent, f**ing off becomes a bit more tricky. I guess that's what they mean by "asset management."

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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