Archive for the 'Work' Category

OOTD20150529

I take a lot of pride in my work. I know when I’ve done something that is really top quality and well done. If someone compliments me effusively on work that I think is “meh”, the compliment leaves me indifferent for the most part. I don’t NEED someone to tell me when I’ve done superior work – I know it and it makes me feel satisfied and proud. But…. When I HAVE done something that I know took a lot of work, a lot of thought, a lot of crafting, then when the person for whom it was done takes the time to recognize that, praise it, and thank me – that takes the good feeling to an even higher level. You need to work for yourself and recognize your own worth, but it’s very very nice to be appreciated by people whom you respect. 🙂

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Reprise

Nickelback: “You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars, regardless of who you are”
(If Today Was Your Last Day)

I’m shooting for the stars. It’s a whole new adventure. I’m on my way. Thanks for listening. 🙂

Diagnosis: Terminal Volunteer


Volunteerism.
Side Effects: persistent view
from under the bus.

Blurred Vision

Vision can be blurry because something is interfering actively or because the focus has not yet resolved. When I look at the future and virtual worlds, my vision blurs from both causes. This post was triggered by my reaction to Gwyneth Llewelyn‘s post “Innovation, yes, but wrong turn“. Gwyneth is one of my favorite bloggers. I find her comments to be sound and well-supported, and her tone is always equable.

I still believe that all of us will have an avatar in virtual worlds in the fairly near future. I believe that more and more business meetings and collaborations will take place virtually. There will always be a need for face-to-face. But the workplace is global and for short-duration meetings and conferences, unless we have a major breakthrough in transportation costs (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), the most cost and time efficient solution will remain electronic. I no longer believe, however, that SecondLife/OpenSim will be that virtual means. And therefore my vision is blurred from the unshed tears in my eyes. I am still unable to articulate why my SL avatar resonates so strongly for me. I am unable to identify which particular aspects make the experience so powerful. I have tried to bring friends and coworkers into SL. I’ve failed. I introduce them to friends. To live music. To building. To the ability to hold business meetings simply. Many many things. (No, I didn’t try introducing them to Zindra. Was that the problem?) But to date I have failed to convince anyone to see it as I do.

I think that not only is there something in my eyes, but I think the view-finder has not yet been turned to the correct focus. At the moment the virtual world is beset by a storm about anonymity, pseudonymity and “real identity”. I tend toward seeing the pessimistic future and I fear that we, advocates for pseudonymity and anonymity, are going to lose this argument. But moving beyond this moment, I think that the business world has still not identified why it needs virtual worlds. Because of that lack of vision – the WHY – virtual worlds still lack the WHAT. I think we have the “HOW” – we can get there. Once we are there, however, there’s little to do. There’s no “HOW”. We need TOOLS in the virtual worlds. Those tools are coming. But not fast enough and not “sexy” enough. We need tools that allow our avatars to do that which our organic bodies do: easy note taking, modify the same objects (think whiteboards, sketching). Picture yourself in an organic conference room in a brainstorming, problem-solving session. Now, imagine your avatar doing the same thing. The trick here is that all of those tasks that are seamless in the organic world need to be as seamless in the virtual. So yes, there are whiteboard tools and there are ways to modify the same object, etc. But they are not seamless to the avatar experience. The business world and LL only thought to the point of getting people IN.

Not only are we lacking the tools, but there are not enough people being encouraged and supported to envision. I state quite clearly – I am NOT a visionary. I am the person who can get your vision done. But we NEED the people who will look at the conference room I described, will look at the work being done, look at virtual worlds, and make the leap that says: ah, because we are freed from the constraints of the physical world, we can visualize the problem THUSLY. I had the good fortune to work on a project with people who ARE visionaries. We began work on such a business application tool. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the backing (substitute “funding”) to keep working so that they had time to learn the virtual worlds sufficiently to make that quantum leap into hyperspace.

In her article, Gwyneth Llewelyn says:
However, I still think that LL (and not only Rod; he’s just starting to think like the rest) is working from a totally wrong assumption: that virtual worlds with user-generated content are somehow a mainstream product, if only “done right”, and that the trick is how to figure out to “do them right”. To be very honest — and you can check it up on my blog — I used to think like that as well. But the more time passes, the less likely I believe this is going to happen.
… I’m quite convinced these days that Second Life (and these days there is nothing else that compares with SL; I’m considering OpenSim to be just a variant of SL running under open source software, of course) is simply a niche product.

I’m sad to say that to a great extent, I agree. I think that SL/OpenSim is a tool, an environment. Now take that tool and customize it to what you need. Businesses need specific business tools, specific ways of manipulating data. Businesses need specific ways of interacting. Like the government, corporations have specific concerns that drive innovation. Think of how many inventions and every-day appliances we now have due to the government needing a tool. If business took virtual worlds seriously, used them, put the energy into adding tools and applications and seamless integration, virtual worlds would have a bigger niche. I believe that once such tools are there, other people will take them, bend them shake them and leap them into the future. As that happens, the niche expands to a mainstream product.

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.

Everything You Know is Wrong

Or should that be: “Everything, you know, is Wrong”? That was the name of the lecture Grady Booch delivered from SL today. And the revised punctuation was ALSO his construct. It was my great fortune to meet Grady in the course of some software development I was doing. We discovered that we were both fans of virtual worlds and have remained friends since. As I rarely have the opportunity to attend in person many of the conferences at which Grady is a keynote speaker, I’m delighted when I can hear him inworld. (You can find Grady’s blog here.)

Grady was speaking at the Software Experts Summit 2011, being held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. But Grady wasn’t in California either, he was giving his talk from Second Life, so I got to attend as well.

I’ve heard Grady talk on similar topics before. Each time I learn something new, grasp a little more. (As I’ve told you – by my mother I’m a techie, but by a techie I’m no techie. *grin*) One of my favorite ‘slides’ is the one that says “Develop in anger”, which was all the more amusing as I’d just been posting on the topic of anger. I also like the other points at the slide about listening, but not TOO much. *grin* I do like the way Grady thinks.

I was able to reach Honour and Shenlei in time for them to tp over and expand their software knowledge as well! We’ll have Honour coding in NO time….. /me ducks and runs

Virtual Worlds Making a Serious Impact

Yay! Another guest blogger!

Svea Morane coordinates Second Life activities for Mayo Clinic as part of his administrative role there. Mayo Clinic is a medical group practice with 56,000 employees, providing patient care, professional education and research programs. You can read more about Mayo’s work in virtual worlds at MedCity News and at the StarTribune of Minneapolis.

Some days SL makes you proud

A little while back I had one of those days where you want to put a gold star on the calendar so you don’t forget it, and Second Life played a huge role in making that day so great. Second Life helped different Mayo groups deal with real issues. Along the way it made me look good for having the tool available and SL associates to make it sing. 🙂

In the first instance our facilities and project management folks were re-designing some space for another work group in our organization. Approximately 50 people will move into the space and utilize conference areas, project areas, open desk seating, drop-in worker seating, closed-door office areas, and reception. We modeled the space to scale in Second Life, using replicas of the actual textures, floor and wall coverings, desks and tables, lighting and even correct views out the windows. The build was done in a couple of weeks with the help of skilled SL builder, Oura Scribe.

The magic came when members of the facilities staff and the soon-to-be occupants saw the space and went through it TOGETHER in Second Life. People saw issues and solutions together, right in front of them, in ways they had not after looking at 2D paper drawings for months. The team were thrilled with the communication, problem solving and resulting cost savings that came from that meeting. SL delivered something of value to every person in the room.

Later in the day, we were able to show another build, not a “to scale” build but a “concept” build, which showed how some ideas for providing services to different groups in one space could actually happen. This time the participants were internal staff, and external partners. Again we had the help of SL builder Oura Scribe, who worked with us over the course of a few weeks to put a 3D face on a bunch of concepts.

When the group got together and walked through the space, the magic happened again. People discussed and smiled and wrote notes and pointed and laughed and made decisions. One very experienced member of the group said “I have been close to this project for over a year. And it never really came together until I saw this”. The build that was presented may never resemble the actual space when created, but the way it helped the discussion and brought ideas together was an amazing thing to witness.

So thank you SL, for giving me a gold star day, and a solid reminder of the very positive things that can come out of this environment and the people we meet here.

Thanks to YOU, Svea! Both for blogging and for the fantastic work that Mayo is doing in SL.


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