Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Human Nature and Corporate Culture

Had an interesting lunch time discussion with some colleagues today on the future of collaborative environments. I was arguing for and predicting the decline of e-mail as the primary tool for collaboration in favour of richer and more controllable environments such as Groove ( My primary arguments were:
- Richer toolset
- Built-in anti-spam (invitees only)
but most of all that it allows you better to model your personal environment to align with the many roles that you plays while not interfering with other peoples freedom to do the same (this is one of  the tenets of personal freedom). I like grooves ability to let me be IT architect, father, music fan, friend and bilateral "him" hater as I want in the ways I want, and if I want to go really public I can blog.
Although we all agreed that the developing corporate cultures of sharing or protectionism had little to do with tools, it was suggested that Groove might be counter productive in an environment where we were trying to share as much information as possible in that, by default, Groove is closed group (much the same as e-mail is, but more flexible.

This was a new angle for me and I could see the point but I strongly disagree. I think groove will encourage openess BECAUSE you know exactly who you are talking to. I think it is against human nature to be fully open if we think the whole world might be watching. The impression I want to give in my blog is quite different to that I try to give in a group with, say, just my peers or the guys that work for me. This doesn't make me two faced (my personality comes through in both situations) or fickle, I think that is acting appropriately in a given situation. Something most adult humans are very good at.

It was suggested that a more free flow of information might be encouraged through an open mailbox environment where by default everything you wrote was accesible and searcheable. I believe this would have the opposite effect in that people would become over cautious in what they wrote in case what they said was misinterpreted or taken out of context, not to mention who would look in this rat's nest. People need a space where they can go to have a moan about that really annoying co-worker
As Richard Dawkins noted in "The Selfish Gene", we humans (as all other species) are selfish right down to our Genes, and that apparent acts of altruism and overtly social behaviour don't contradict that.  John Harsanyi and John Nash's work on game theory show how humans interact apparently as teams to win as individuals even when they don't know the intentions of the other players.

Somedays I wish lunch hour would go on all afternoon..

Saturday, 4 January 2003

Long Time No Blog

Oh well, time to take down the tree remove the festive web picture etc. etc.
Not much blogging since christmas, the days just seem to have sped by and now I find myself psyching up for work on Monday (actually I did a few hours to day to let myself in gently).
Nothing too exciting has been happening. Planned to do a bit of skiing, but it didn't happen as there is no snow to speak of! What is the world coming to?

Between us in the family, however, we had enough new toys to keep us busy:
My youngest has a new Chemistry set, and like his father before him it did not take long until he was looking for forms of gentle explosions to play with (accompanied by adults of course). This took me back to my entry into the world of invention and the converted coal cellar I used to use to invent the latest world saving device along with all my chemical concoctions (the noisier the better). I think my greatest "invention" at the grand old age of 11 was "broadcast power". Little did I know that Microwaves were already in use, and that they had some kind of nasty side effects when used on a global scale (community cooking takes on a whole other meaning).

My eldest is into fitness nowadays, so we added a bike to the garage and a boxing bag to the cellar. I hope I haven't caused any structural damage with the drill. The wife also got a new stepper to keep those buttocks trim (no complaints there).

My midlester got a new bed and a ton of peripheral items, can't imagine what a 17 year old would want with such a large bed?

But my new toys are the best (of course). I already mentioned the iPod, and there isn't much more to say except that it is the best MP3 player at the moment, even when paired with a PC. Only thing I prefer on my old Hango is that is was possible to navigate without looking (great for bedtime listening or blind user).
The other new toy is an Epson perfection scanner which I intend to use for scanning all those old analogue negatives I have from the past 30 year of non-digital photography. First impressions are very good and when paired with the excellent Photoshop Elements (which is included) I think the scanner is a little wonder. No doubt I'll have more on this later.

WARNING: Nobody should think there is a really simple method of just showing a scanner all your old negatives and they instantly become perfect digital images. The process is time consuming and I reckon on dribs and drabs over a couple of years to get my 3000 or so photos in (and that is a small collection by many peoples standards). And not to mention with todays tools there are always "improvements" to be made to the originals :-)