Thursday, May 31, 2012

My dear reader,

And, I do mean 'dear.'  For as I have taken a few moments to create this 'letter' (of sorts) with you in mind, you are taking a moment (or at least a few seconds) to bring me and/or my thoughts to mind.  Thus, the act of letter writing creates a bond across time and space between writer and reader.  

The personal letter has virtue as a bond between people, according to Richard Harper who adds that, 'The paradox here is that letters can create ties only when those ties somehow already exist.  And beyond this, the ties that they create--on the basis of a modest but nevertheless marvelous transcendence of time and space--is of a different nature than the ties that allowed the correspondence in the first place' (Harper, 2010, p. 22).

The practice has evolved over centuries and continues to evolve as we move our letter writing on-line.  Of course, blogs and Facebook pages are different from personal letters.  For example, this blog's readers include 8% from Russia* and I have never been there! Moreover, contemporary forms of connectivity must be viewed in historical context, as Harper does.

'We have seen that those who seem to communicate the most and who seem to be the most afflicted by communications don't seem to complain about it.  Teenagers don't bewail the fact that they have too many messages. The real issue is that for most adults, there is a perception that we are now suffering from an age of communication excess.  This is constructed, in part, by seeing the past in a particular way.  Whatever our current circumstances, we tend to believe that the past was different from our present. We complain that we are busy and overloaded (and one source of that overload is communication), and we therefore portray the past as less busy and not like our today.' ...leading to 'the paradox of the age--our desire for communication and our complaints about its burdens.' (Harper, R. Texture: Human expression in the age of communications overload, MIT Press, 2010, p. 41, 45)

I met up with Richard and his colleagues, Abi Sellen and Managing Director Professor Andrew Blake today at Microsoft Research.  MSR is located just on the edge of campus, and walking there I passed the Betty and Gordon Moore Library (as in Moore's Law) at the University of Cambridge Centre for Mathematics.

Microsoft Research, Cambridge is a 'gee whiz' wonderland, full of wondrous prototypes of communications technologies for the future.   The UK site has played a significant role in touchless computing, which has recently been introduced in medical surgery, where doctors can operate screens without touching them. Other recent projects include digital archiving and personal rememberance.

Abi and Richard and their colleagues have also previously explored computing for older generations.  What they have learned about computing for older people is that, contrary to popular belief and stereotypes, many older people embrace communication in its current forms.  And, they get communication right in understanding its value as a enduring element of what it means to be human. Communicating with others is an honor and requires attention to others. 

This is why older people sometimes marvel at the constant self-broadcasting that some younger people do.  It seems to demonstrate a disregard for the reader and their time to broadcast minutia about oneself with no apparent purpose.  Having said that, many of the older folks interviewed had a healthy perspective and appreciation that communication is changing.  If everyone is in a rush, then maybe short, abbreviated messages make sense for today's world.

As for the intimate bonds between writers and readers of personal messages, in airport lounges and runways, on the train and waiting for class to start, I have seen your smiles when a text message or email arrives from someone 'dear' to you.

With warm regards,

PS. Thanks, Don, for a great video, Susan Cain's TED Talk on the power of introversion and solitude.

*Google Blog Spot statistics: Connectivity Corner readership

US 34%
UK 22%
NZ 16%
Russia 8 %
Australia 7%
France 7%
Germany 2%
Denmark 2%
Ireland 1 %
Latvia 1%

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cannes-ectivity Video Collection

Here are some video links you might like.

The magic of face-to-face presence

'Being there is everything' (Air New Zealand ad)

Philadelphia Opera Company - the magic of 'here and now'

The magic of global connectivity
Cisco ad series: 'Welcome to the human network'

Cisco: 'Meeting face-to-face without traveling place-to-place'

'One Love' ('Playing for change' series)

Wired people should understand wires: The mundane magic of the Internet.

Distributed Work
'Why telecommuting is good for you' (and good for business) (Amy Clark, MinuteMBA YouTube channel)

The importance of disconnects

Susan Cain: The power of introverts (TED Talk)

William Powers, author of Hamlet's BlackBerry (PBS Interview)

Visions of the Future

Google glasses (highly-integrated, personal, unobtrusive connectivity in action)

Microsoft's vision (highly-integrated intersection of personal-professional-family)

Corning's vision (very 'sociomaterial,' but which came first, Microsoft's or Corning's vision of basically the same thing)

i2050 (spoof of iPhone phenomenon)

Marc Goodman's vision of crime in the future (TED Talk).

Todd Humphreys TED Talk on the good, bad and not unproblematic sides of GPS in the future.

I hate it when that happens...

A squirrel ate my Internet: Andrew Blum on the physical reality of the Internet.

Surprisingly inspiring: TED Talk by Renny Gleeson on '404 pages as disconnects,'

Now, that's just silly

The Internet: Lessons from the Future (the Poke)

Social Media Parody (time well wasted)

Cisco: 'Business travel without the travel'

'American workers outsourcing their jobs' (Onion News)

'iWorld 2050' (iEverything spoof)

'The Humans are Dead.' (Flight of the Conchords)

Silent movies & Facebook

This week, I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Institute for Manufacturing here at Cambridge. What an impressive creative learning space!  I am grateful for my colleague, Ken Platts' invitation and tour of the facilities.  As a long-time experiential educator and 'teams' person, I really liked the energy and hands-on approach to learning afforded by their purpose-built facilities. The building is clearly designed with an appreciation of what can happen in the precious space of face-to-face.

The talk went well, but  there was no sound cable for my laptop (my fault - I forgot to say I needed one), which meant the videos were barely audible across the room. As I walked back to Clare Hall on a beautiful spring day, I thought why not link those clips and a few other favorites to this blog?

So, in this week of the Cannes Film Festival, I am launching a 'Cannes-ectivity' page, where you'll find a few of my favorite video clips related to connectivity.

I am also creating a mirror page on Facebook that will have the same content as this blog. I am curious to see how that works.  The page has the same name: Connectivity Corner.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Facebook, Connectivity and Human Resources

Facebook goes public with $104 billion valuation.

This week I was a keynote speaker at the British Academy of Management special interest group (SIG) on Human Resource Management conference at Cranfield University.

Here are three things that I think Human Resource Managers need to think about in the future.

1. Personalization of I.T. --  Corporations used to work really hard to set up networks and workstations for their employees. Now employees want to join networks anywhere and don't want to be tied to 'work stations.'

2. Some do, some don't get overwhelmed by connectivity, so making a one-size fits all policy may not work.  And, unless you can change the culture of your organization, having an email-free Friday is not the answer to hyper-connectivity.  Just like money does not motivate everyone, connectivity approaches will have to recognize individual preferences and values.  Experiment to find what works for you, your team and organization.

3. Increasingly, being connected is not just something we do, it is who we are. Shifts in identity are big and can be very powerful, but like culture change, they often come with a clash of cultures and require time for transition.

For references, check out the Reading List.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'Why airport security is broken and how to fix it'

This week we are in Paris.  We took the Chunnel down from Cambridge, which was a new adventure and it was seamless.  In fact, traveling around Europe (with certain passports) is so easy again.  It makes you wonder why air travel has become such a hassle, especially in the US, but as you may have seen, it happens in the UK too.

But first, the answer to last week's quiz:  Boeing

The question was what Seattle-based company has most connected the world?

Here is my take on it: sells a lot of books (and other stuff), which is information, not necessarily connection.

Starbucks was founded on the age-old European tradition of sharing ideas in a 'third space' between home and work. Unfortunately, you don't see much connection going on while waiting for 'Tall' (and by tall they mean small) cappuccinos to go.  Comfy chairs are missing or under-used in many Starbucks.

Microsoft rode the desktop metaphor hard, but it is proving hard to get off that horse.

Boeing is my preferred answer because, in many cases, 'being there is everything.'  For instance, you can read books about Paris, talk to folks about Paris and even buy an interactive game based in Paris, but nothing compares to 'being' in Paris.

When we think of connectivity, we normally think about information and communication technologies, but they are only part of the big picture.  Human connectivity has historically--and still is to a great extent--been based on trade, travel and immigration, i.e, moving around the planet.

New Zealand historian Jamie Belich reminds us that, at least in New Zealand's case, the wide-bodied jet (i.e., Boeing 747s) has had a much greater impact on our small island nation than all the affordances of the Internet.  Being back in Paris reminds me how much I learned from a year studying in France and Austria during college.  Cultural travel and understanding is the thing that has brought humans together for centuries.

If the jet airplane is a connective device, then the big dis-connect is airport security, as recently illustrated by the Agency's former Chief Executive in the Wall Street Journal, who tells us 'why airport security is broken, and how to fix it.'

Enjoy your week and feel free to move around the planet. Facebook will still be with you, so there is no downside.  Get out there!

Paris, France

Thursday, May 3, 2012

'Chance favors the connected mind'

Let's shift gears from loneliness and think about some of the good, great things that happen with increased connectivity.

In a great, fast-paced video, 'where good ideas come from', Steven Johnson articulates how good ideas come from contact with others (see book of same title in Reading List).  He highlights that great ideas don't just appear out of nowhere, complete and ready to go, but rather they take time to develop.  And, importantly, great ideas often come from my partial idea 'colliding' with your idea to make a better idea.  In the enormous flow of information, rather than overwhelming us, Johnson proclaims that, 'chance favors the connected mind.'  So, don't be afraid to stay connected!

Now, here is a connectivity quiz:

Question: Which Seattle-based company has done the most for global connectivity?

b. Boeing
c. Microsoft
d. Starbucks

Answer next week.

I have added a Reading List to the blog, where you can get references to books and authors.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reading Corner

The Reading Corner

My research articles are shared and most downloaded from:
Click here to go to my page.

For my publications, click here.

Other readings by theme:

Connectivity Conundrum (where more is less)

Marche, Stephen (2012). Is Facebook making us lonely? The Atlantic, 309(4), May, 60-69.

Digital Disruption

Extensive literature on disruption in human-computer interaction research compiled by corporate and academic scholars.

Disconnecting as a good thing

Mayer-Schonberger, Vicktor (2009). Delete: The virtue of forgetting in the digital age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hyper-connectivity's Impact on our Brains, our Work and our Lives

Atchley, Paul (2010). You can’t multitask, so stop trying. Harvard Business Review, December 21.    

Brockman, John (Ed) (2011). Is the Internet changing the way you think?: The Net's impact on our minds and future. New York: Harper Perennial.

Carr, Nicholas (2010). The shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember. London: Atlantic. 

Ekekwe, Ndubuisi (2012). Is your smartphone making you less productive? Harvard Business Review, April 6.

Goleman, Daniel (2013). Focus: The hidden driver of success.

Gregg, Melissa (2011). Work's intimacy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

MacCormick, Judith, Dery, Kristine and Kolb, Darl (2012). Engaged, or just connected? Smartphones and employee engagement. Organizational Dynamics, in press.

Rosen, Larry D. (2012). iDisorder: Understanding our obsession with technology and overcoming its hold on us. Palgrave Macmillan.  See Bryan Burrough's review in NY Times, 12 May 2012.

Turkle, Sherry (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.

Gleick, James (2011). The information: A history, a theory, a flood. London: HarperCollins.

Hypo-connectivity's Impact on Health, Work and Well-being 

Brown, John Seely and Duguid, Paul (2000). The social life of information.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Hardy, Quentin (2012). 'A summer storm's disruption is felt in the technology cloud.' New York Times, 1 July.

Marche, Stephen (2012). Is Facebook making us lonely? The Atlantic, 309(4), May, 60-69.

Putnam, Robert (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.

On Networks

Stewart, James (2012). 'When network effects go into reverse.' New York Times, 17 August.  Video: Interview with Jim Stewart.

Optimal Connectivity

Harper, Richard (2010). Texture: Human expression in the age of communications overload. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kolb, Darl, Collins, Paul and Lind, E. Allen (2008). 'Requisite connectivity: Finding flow in a not-so-flat world.' Organizational Dynamics, 37, 2, 181-189.

Johnson, Steven (2010). Where good ideas come from: A natural history of innovation.  London: Penguin.

Practical Philosophy and Advice for a Connected Age

Chatfield, Tom (2012). How to thrive in the digital age.  London: Macmillan.

Gordhamer, Soren (2013). Wisdom 2.0: The modern movement toward meaningful engagement in business and in life. New York: Harper.

Lanier, Jaron (2010). You are not a gadget: A manifesto. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Perlow, Leslie A. (2012). Sleeping with your smartphone: How to break the 24/7 habit and change the way you work. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.  See HBS blog: 'Breaking the Smartphone Addiction' (14 May 2012).

Powers, William (2010). Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building a good life in the digital age.   New York: Harper Perennial.

Rheingold, Howard (2012). Net Smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Reports and Statistics

Cisco Connected World Report (2011). Reports views and attitudes of college students, who will become workers of the future.

Ganz, James (2012). 'The cloud factories: Power, pollution and the Internet' New York Times, 22 September.

Optus (Australia) 'Future of Work' Report (2011). Looks at trends in telecommunication, with an emphasis on mobile technology uptake.

Noonan, Mary and Glass, Jennifer (2012). The Hard Truth about Telecommuting. Monthly Labor Review, 135, 6.

Perlow, Leslie (2012). HBS blog: 'Breaking the Smartphone Addiction' (14 May), includes statistics of success of BCG consultants implementing 'Predictable Time Off' practices.

Rainie, Lee and Fox, Susannah (2012). 'Just in time information through mobile internet connections.' Pew Internet and American Life Project, 7 May.

Rainie, Lee and Wellman, Barry (2012). Networked: The new social operating system.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Scales, Measures and Empirical Work

Collins, Paul D.,  Kolb, D. G. (2012). ‘Innovation in distributed teams: The duality of connectivity norms and agency.‘ In: Clare Kelliher and Julia Richardson (ed.)New Ways of Organizing Work: Developments, Perspectives and Experiences, London: Routledge, 140-159. NB: Contains hypo-connectivity, hyper-connectivity, and connectivity choice (agency) scales.

Technical Connectivity

Connectivity Scorecard - A brilliant interactive on-line tool that shows the technical connectivity of many countries around the world.  Sponsored by Nokia Seimens.  A great in-class 'gee whiz' discussion starter.

Ganz, James (2012). 'The cloud factories: Power, pollution and the Internet' New York Times, 22 September.

Talbot, David (2005). 'The Internet is broken.' Technology Review, 108, 12, 62-69.

Connectivity gaps as distance in mobile environments. (blog regarding a talk at NJIT)

Social Connectivity

Myers, Michael and Sundaram, David (2012). 'Digital natives: Rise of the social networking generation.' University of Auckland Business Review, May.

Theoretical Models of Connectivity

Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2012). Interop: The promise and perils of interconnected systems.  New York: Basic Books.

Mazmanian, Melissa, Orlikowski, Wanda, and Yates, JoAnne (2013). 'The autonomy paradox: The implications of mobile email devices for knowledge professionals.'  Organization Science (available on-line).

Kolb, Darl, Caza, Arran and Collins, Paul, (2012). ‘States of connectivity: New questions and new directions.’ Organization Studies, 33, 2, 267-273.

Kolb, Darl G. (2008). ‘Exploring the metaphor of connectivity: Attributes, dimensions and duality.’ Organization Studies, 29, 1, 127-144. 

Kolb, Darl, Collins, Paul and Lind, E. Allen (2008). 'Requisite connectivity: Finding flow in a not-so-flat world.' Organizational Dynamics, 37, 2, 181-189.

Theories of Networks

Granovetter, Mark (1973). 'The strength of weak ties.' American Journal of Sociology, 78, 6, 1360-1380.

Wellman, B. and Berkowitz, S. D. (1988). Social structures: A network approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Castells, Manual (1996, 2000). The rise of the network society. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Theories of Technology Use

Barley, Stephen R. (1986). Technology as an occasion for structuring: Evidence from observation of CT scanners and the social order of radiology departments. Administrative Science Quarterly, 31, 78-108.

Jones, Matthew R. and Karsten, Helena (2008). Giddens' structuration theory and information systems research. MIS Quarterly, 32, 1, 127-157.

Barley, Stephen R., Meyerson, Debra, Grodal, Stine (2011). Email as a source and symbol of stress. Organization Science, 4, July-August, 887-906.

Orlikowski, Wanda J. (1992). The duality of technology: Rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science, 3/3, 398-427.

Orlikowski, Wanda J. (2007). Sociomaterial practices: Exploring technology at work. Organization Studies, 28, 9, 1435-1448.

Orlikowski, Wanda J. and Scott, Susan (2008). Sociomateriality: Challenging the separation of technology, work and organization. Academy of Management Annals, 2, 1, pp. 433-474.

Leonardi, Paul and Barley, Stephen R. (2010). What's under construction here?  Social action, sociomateriality, and power in the social constructivist studies of technology and organizing. Academy of Management Annals, 4, 1, 1-51.

Virtual (Distributed) Work

Duarte, Deborah and Snyder, Nancy Tennant (2006). Mastering virtual teams: Strategies, tools and techniques that succeed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Elliott, Anthony and Urry, John (2010). Mobile lives. New York: Routledge.

Lojeski, Karen Sobel and Reilly, Richard (2008). Uniting the virtual workforce: Transforming leadership and innovation in the globally integrated enterprise. Microsoft Executive Leadership Series. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Nemiro, Jill, Beyerlein, Michael, Bradley, Lori and Beyerlein, Susan (Eds). (2008). The handbook of high-performing virtual teams: A toolkit for collaborating across boundaries. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

'How to deal with conflict in virtual teams.'  HBR.

See Mark Mortensen and Michael O'Leary's HBR blog