Collaboration

It’s odd, I suppose, but for me the first association with the word “collaboration” brings up thoughts of WWII and “collaborators”. No, I’m NOT that old, so I don’t know why that is what comes to mind first. The first associations SHOULD be with business, work, buzzword. Ah well, the human mind is a very strange place.

Another strange place is my office. Last Monday I was at the office and all was fine. Last Tuesday, I was at the office and became ill. By the time I got home at the end of the day, I was very ill: headache, sinus pressure, scratchy throat, upset stomach, aching eyeballs. Sounds like allergies or sick, no? So I worked from home on Wednesday and all cleared up. Back to the office on Thursday and wham! I could smell the chemical smell the moment I walked in. Discussed it with some coworkers and some could smell it, most couldn’t, two others were suffering almost as badly as I. Apparently I am their canary in the coal mine. It seems to hit me first and hardest. I tried to go back to the office yesterday but I could smell whatever it is as soon as I walked in the door. I tried sitting in other places in the building but it was there too. So I’m home until they fix it. (Supreme irony: my next-door-neighbor’s lawn service came this morning. The ride-on mower was spewing gasoline fumes and gray clouds for 30 minutes, not to mention the NOISE.)

You know that I am a strong advocate of collaborating in virtual worlds. I helped create a collaboration tool for use in opensim. I suggest that we hold meetings in SecondLife. I helped furnish and customize virtual spaces for business conferences. I believe that the workplace is international and virtual. But….. I miss my coworkers. 😦 Despite all my support and belief that work can be done productively and effectively from non-co-located collaborators (ouch, that word) I miss my office mates. I believe that being in the same space, face to face, improves the working relationship. Improved work relationships lead to greater productivity. Synergy. Most of my work depends on consulting with my team mates. While I CAN do that at a distance (email, phone, IM, virtual world), sometimes there is no substitute for strolling over to someone else’s desk and saying “heya, I have a question”. For my “real” job, I am more effective if I can corner my coworkers when need-be. *grin*

I’m torn on this issue. Whereas I love the ability to work from home (avoid that awful commute, sleep a bit later, roll out of bed and workout instead of racing to get out of the house), I love going into the office and laughing and talking and solving problems with my coworkers. I need that socialization. I need to know their faces, the inflection of their voices. On the other hand, Oura and I helped out a friend of mine this past spring. He makes many presentations on software architecture. He likes to use SecondLife for these presentations as otherwise he’d be traveling all about the world non-stop (literally). We built an image of a computer for him to use in his presentations, to help provide greater immersion and detail for his talks. The 3 of us live in different locations, different time periods yet this made no difference to our ability to work together. We met in SL and had no problem meeting (exceeding) the goal. So not all work needs co-location.

My work is creative in a sense – I’m in a software development group. We are always adding new features, developing new ideas. But not all creation need co-location. (I wonder if I could copyright that as a slogan?) I needed to sketch out some ideas for work, draft a picture of how *I* would like a user interface to appear. I sent out a call to friends asking for recommendations on drawing tools. Several people suggested artpad at art.com. This wasn’t exactly what I needed, but by the time I went to look at it, I was on Skype with Oura and Shenlei. We collaborated on our drawing. *grin* We each took turns, adding to the same picture. Different locations. Working together. Producing masterpieces. *grin* What’s really cool about artpad is the ability to see what the other people have added. If you click the link, you can watch (at any speed) as each stroke is added. Here – go try it yourself and let me know what you add.

Co-location – the best way to share donuts, but not always necessary for creation.

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