Posted on May 26th, 2009 6 comments
I recently received an email asking for a bit of advice on time zone trouble. The email went along the lines of:
I’m working for a company where we have an office in the UK, and an office in California. These have an 8 hour time difference. The team in the UK is a small team that works semi-autonomously, but it requires better communication with the US head office than we currently have. I’m looking for help with strategies on getting people communicating better with a large time difference. Any advice, gratefully received.
This is a tricky one. On this blog and in the articles I’ve written I’ve mentioned lots of synchronous forms of communication (telephony, VOIP, virtual meetings, chat, Twitter etc.) but all of these rely on people being around at the same time to be effective. An 8 hour lag makes for a fairly stilted conversation…
However globalisation of work is happening more and more and small amounts of time difference can be over come as Amanda Hill’s explained in her recent guest blog post.
The time difference between the UK and Eastern Canada can occasionally be problematic. It works fine for me, as I am part-time on Names and usually work on that in the morning, when UK folk are putting in their afternoon’s work. Then I can work on the Dundee module (or my garden) in my afternoon. I find that Twitter really helps in keeping connected with my various professional communities.
One possibility is to use the time zones to an organisation’s advantage. This would mean ones work place enabling staff to work around the clock (i.e. making sure the office is open and accessible late at night). Teams could also look at the order of certain tasks – tasks that require the other team’s input are carried out later in the day. Maybe some tasks or chats could even be carried out in employees homes. Staff could work later from home one day and come into the office later the next day. Flexible working means that there could be some time zone overlap (make sure you pay your team back though for their extra hours!) As long as the schedules are rotated and workers don’t always have to work out-of-hours this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The key is that everyone is clear on what the situation is, knows what time it is in the other office and who it is OK to call. Otherwise there might be some very cross employees taking part in conference calls in the pyjamas! One idea might be to schedule a call every day at the end of the UK day and the beginning of the US day.
Without being online at the same time teams will be restricted to asynchronous communication. This means that quite a lot of work must be carried out early to allow the other team enough time to reflect on it/use it. What you don’t want to do is waste precious time in a difficult to schedule meeting with everyone catching up on documentation.
Technology wise a few ideas might be:
- Use a time zone software like timeanddate.com.
- Use something that allows conversation threads (like the Facebook threads) as well as email.
- If you want to use Twitter make sure you agree on an appropriate hashtag for filtering so you can pick up tweets later on.
- Try a project blog so everyone is kept up to date with the current status of work. Shared project management tools can also help and Wikis for collaboration on documents.
- Let the team to have mobile email devices.
- Use an organisational Intranet.
- Try making short videos to send over. This will allow the teams to get to know each other better and clarify things that can’t be explained in an email.
- Use meeting planner software like Whenisgood Meetingmade, – more ideas in this Web Work Daily article entitled How to Plan Virtual Meetings With a Global Teleworking Team.
Thanks to Twitter people for help with some of these ideas. Any more suggestions?
Posted on May 18th, 2009 5 comments
To date I’ve remained true to the primary focus of this blog and have avoided areas like e-learning and distance/remote learning (mainly because they are big topics and I don’t know where to start!)
However on reading the Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World report written by the Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience (CLEX) I couldn’t help but consider some of the overlaps.
The report provides a “coherent and accessible account of the potential for Web 2.0 technologies in higher education” and makes for a very good read.
One incite that struck me was something that Andy Powell also pointed out in his blog post. When discussing whether there is still a role for universities in a Web 2.0 world Andy concludes that luckily for universities “there are strong hints in the report that aspects of the traditional university, face to face tutor time for example, are well liked by their customers“.
The report repeatedly makes the observation that “face to face contact with staff – the personal element in study – matters to students“. When considering student expectations before enrolment, face to face teaching was found to be preferable to that via technology. This is to some extent directed by the influence of the school model where face to face teaching is the norm. Not only this but personal teaching is something fee paying students expect as part of their ‘purchase’.
However physicality isn’t always possible (or desired). When talking about ongoing drivers to change the CLEX report talks about diversity in the learner population and makes the observation that:
“e-Learning incorporating Web 2.0 offers the sense of being a contributing member of a learning community, which is one of the hallmarks of higher education. For learners unable to participate in an actual community for some, or even all, of the time – notably part-time, distance and, increasingly, work-based – Web 2.0 may be a reasonable proxy.“
Of course for most learners the use of ICT and Web technologies will go hand in hand with personal contact, which is the ideal solution.
The need for that personal contact resonates strongly with many remote workers. A quick look at the guest posts will confirm. Although remote working is for many a lifestyle choice it is also quite often a necessity. Despite the advantages it brings most who have tried it will acknowledge that sometimes nothing compares with meeting with people in the flesh. For many of us much work can be carried out in front of a PC, some work can be carried out using social networking tools but for other tasks (notably those that require quick interaction -like a meeting) the preferred option is face to face.
The extinction of face to face meetings has been predicted many-a-time (along with the paperless office and a world without books). Back in 2005 Alan R. Winger wrote an article for Business Horizons entitled Face-to-face communication: Is it really necessary in a digitizing world? in which he argued that despite changing technologies it was still the best way to communicate for two main reasons:
“First, being physically close brings into play in a robust way all of the senses: sight, sound, smell and touch. There are more than a few differing types of contact. Messages can be expressed vocally, the content of which can be the outcome of rational thought. Vocally, the content can express feelings both in terms of what is said and how it is said. Perhaps even more important is the ability to see another when face-to-face, which brings nonverbal cues such as body gestures and facial expressions into the fray. Many consider these to be critically important in business communication. Being near also permits touching and smelling, both of which can provide important clues in some discussions.”
“Second is the matter of speed. Information communicated in a face-to-face setting is instantaneously received, as is any resulting response. In this sense, speed is argued to contribute significantly in situations where the problems to be dealt with are best addressed with knowledge contained in the minds of those working to find solutions, i.e., tacit knowledge.“
So now we remote workers are in a predicament. Face to face is preferable for some tasks but often not possible. Luckily the CLEX report concludes that if face to face is not possible “ICT (can be) accepted as an adjunct if managed well“.
My previous Ariadne articles have offered suggestions (such as virtual meetings) and I hope in the near future to write more about the use of video, which is one possible approach.
I suppose as remote workers with limited time and limited organisational budget for travel the trick is identifying which face to face activities hit the biggest score productivity wise.
For now I’d argue those that:
- include problems that need people to use tacit knowledge to find solutions
- pack the most into the shortest time (conferences)
- include the most opportunities for networking
- can’t be well replicated using video or audio
- are mission critical to a project
should be first on the list.
Also any thoughts on the connections between remote and e-learning and remote working. How about remote research? I’d be happy to broaden my scope if people are OK with it.
Posted on May 13th, 2009 5 comments
A discussion on Twitter about whether it would be problematic (or even possible) to be a remote worker if based in a different country from your employer led to me asking Amanda Hill to write a guest blog post for us. Amanda is an archival consultant based in Ontario, Canada but works on a number of UK projects. Amanda is fervent Twitterer and her Web site provides links to all her current activities.
When Marieke first suggested that I write a post on long-distance remote working, my initial response was to think “But it’s no different from remote working in the UK!“. Many of the issues described on Marieke’s blog apply to me as they do to the more usual variety of remote worker. I identify with a lot of them, for example those around time management, environmental concerns, technologies for remote working (and working in a freezing cold office!). Although I must admit to having been horrified by Marieke’s post about rarely having a proper lunch, which made me lie awake at night, fretting, until I’d come up with a week’s worth of healthy lunches to suggest for her.
Internet connectivity is obviously essential for a remote worker, wherever you are. We had been blithely informed by the telecoms company that we would be able to get high-speed internet in our rural corner of Ontario. This turned out to be a whopping lie, leaving us relying on dial-up for the first month or two of our new life. We’ve now got a satellite internet connection, which is wonderful compared to dial-up, but fairly slow (and very expensive) in relation to the broadband we’d got used to in the UK. The connection is fairly good, although very bad weather tends to knock it out, so a big snowstorm or thunderstorm (both of which are quite common here) might leave us unconnected for a while.
I have two UK roles. One is as a tutor on a distance-learning module called ‘Ethics and International Perspectives’, part of the University of Dundee’s MLitt in Archives and Records Management. I’d been doing this from Manchester for three years before leaving the UK, so had always been a remote worker in that context and really noticed very little change on continuing it here in Canada. Except that now I truly did have an international perspective!
The other role is as the project manager for the Names project. This was a new role and has been more of a challenge, if only because people don’t really expect a project manager for a UK project to be based overseas. I’ve been in the embarrassing situation of having had conference calls timed to suit me (with West-coast Americans having to get up ridiculously early) by people who thought I was still in Manchester. The work on the project itself has been going fine, although a huge amount of the credit for that must go to the project team members in the UK. There have been meetings that I really should have gone to that have been attended by others, simply because there are limits to the number of times I feel able to cross the Atlantic in a year. When I do visit the UK, I tend to cram in meetings galore to make the most of my trips. And at least one decent curry – as this area is sadly lacking in Indian restaurants.
The time difference between the UK and Eastern Canada can occasionally be problematic. It works fine for me, as I am part-time on Names and usually work on that in the morning, when UK folk are putting in their afternoon’s work. Then I can work on the Dundee module (or my garden) in my afternoon. I find that Twitter really helps in keeping connected with my various professional communities. It is like being in a big open plan office with all those people (but without ever having to make them cups of tea).
One area that might be a problem for long-distance remote workers is integration with their local community. I think that if I had only worked on UK projects here, I might have found it difficult to meet people beyond our immediate neighbours. Shortly after emigrating, I took on another part-time job as an archivist in a nearby town (Deseronto), where I work one day a week. This has given me a local role, too, which has been invaluable in helping me to settle into Canadian life.
Deseronto Post Office, taken from the Deseronto archives Flickr Collection.
So overall, I don’t think that remoter remote working is all that different than the regular type. Except that the phrase ‘time management’ becomes even more significant when there’s a five-hour gap between you and your employer!
Posted on May 8th, 2009 3 comments
It looks like I’m a little too late with a blog post on swine flu. Recent reports suggest that swine flu (or H1N1 influenza A to give it its proper name) has peaked in Mexico and is now in its declining phase. A pandemic is looking less likely despite two more cases being confirmed in the UK today (taking the total to 34) . So good news for us…
It’s been interesting watching the media reaction to the situation. They seemed to swing between panic and blasé depending on the current mood (or weather?). I enjoyed reading Ben Goldacre’s blog post on Swine flu and hype – a media illness. In it he points out that the media themselves are no longer even sure if they should be hyping it up – the truth seems to be getting more difficult to distinguish and is quite often no longer even relevant. As Ben puts it:
“not only have the public lost all faith in the media; not only do so many people assume, now, that they are being misled; but more than that, the media themselves have lost all confidence in their own ability to give us the facts.“
Maybe even our friend the social networking tool should take its share of the blame for the encouragement of uninformed speculation?
So where does all this media confusion and moral panic leave us remote workers?
When the swine Flu fever began it was like the snow all over again. The likelihood of a pandemic was another one of those things that got companies vexing about staff getting in to the office. Even without a pandemic there would be a rise in rates of absenteeism and therefore productivity. A big no no in credit crunch times.
As Gartner research director Steve Bittinger recently explained:
“Handling Swine flu from an IT perspective is about enabling people to continue to work together or collaborate with reduced levels of face-to-face interaction. It’s a good idea to have work-from-home capabilities ready for staff. Executives need to think about how they would do business if the level of face-to-face contact with customers and staff drops dramatically.
“For example, there may be high rates of people not wanting to come into the office because they don’t want to ride public transport, or they have a sick child or are sick themselves.”
“It may be that this all fizzles out or we may have a week or several weeks to get our act together before or if it hits. Organisations that have the ability for staff to work from home [in the event of an outbreak or pandemic] won’t suffer as badly as those who don’t.“
It’s even filtered through to my world: academia. Christine Sexton, Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services at the University of Sheffield recently wrote a post on her department’s Pandemic Flu planning meeting. Closer to home still, last week a possible case of Swine flu was noted at the University of Bath, where UKOLN is based. At this point I must admit to thanking my lucky stars that I’m a remote worker. The test results later came back negative.
It’s no surprise that the swine flu crisis has led to a rise in enquiries into remote working.
All of this begs the question, why does it take a pandemic to make people realise the benefits of remote working?
A few more questions…
Why do organisations not have remote working strategies in place for times when travelling in to the office is out of the question. Should remote working now be an obligatory part of any organisation’s risk management policy? What will be the next crisis that has managers suddenly allowing their staff remote access to systems that they won’t let them have on an average day?
So it seems like for now normal service has been resumed, but maybe its time we started doing a little planning for the future while we can think straight and neither disease nor snow are banging at the door.
Posted on March 23rd, 2009 No comments
There’s something about that word that makes me snigger. As a colleague explained it brings out the Benny Hill in us all.
Anyway now that I’ve suppressed my sniggers let me explain. UKOLN have now got a pool of 3G cards/Orange Business Everywhere cards/USB Modem/dongles (call them what you will) for staff to borrow. You can book these out for short periods of time. These are USB sticks that when you connect them to a laptop they allow you to use mobile broadband – Internet and email access on the move.
This makes a lot of sense. At the moment I’m sat on a train on my way to Edinburgh for the JISC Conference. UKOLN will pay for train tickets but I only fly if I really have to (environmental and ‘fear of flying’ reasons) and a bit of forward planning means I can get from Wiltshire to Scotland and back in two days. The result is 14 hours on a train. Having a laptop and an Internet connection means that I can carry on as normal…or as least have a go at trying to do that.
Setting it up
I started setting up Business Everywhere in the middle of last week. It’s supposed to be just a case of plug and play – you plug in the USB stick and the software loads itself on your laptop, then you connect to a network. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite so straightforward for me (I see myself as a good test case because if it’s possible to break it…I will). It just didn’t work. I spent hours taking the software off, putting it back on again, walking round town with a laptop held above my head (just in case it was a reception issue), but alas no joy. Thanks to the systems team (especially Nicola and Eddie) for all their help. My laptop is now in the ‘laptop hospital’ at work. Anyway I’ve been lent another laptop on which the software does work.
So I’m now writing this on the train. I am working on the move! Pretty exciting stuff really. I have had a go at wifi but have yet to embrace the beyond the office working that Paul Boag talked about in his post.
The connection has been pretty good so far but there are moments of loss, this means that I’m a bit concerned about losing information, so am becoming obsessive about saving things (like this post).
It’s also pretty slow. I’m not very good at using slow computers. I tend to bang more and more keys until the computer gets its knickers in a twist and crashes. I’m trying to read the paper while the laptop is chugging. I’m thinking that I’ll maybe work on a word document saved on the C drive on the next leg of the journey.
All in all I’m really enjoying the freedom the 3G card is giving me. I know that I don’t have to worry about the wireless at the event and I won’t have to use or pay for wireless in my hotel. Although I’m not working as efficiently as I would at home I’m still in touch (my phone doesn’t really do Web) and I can fire fight problems and know that if I need Internet connection to do so it’s there.
Having a collection of dongles is an effective and cost-effective way to support your staff when they are out on the move.
Right, time to change trains…..
Posted on March 4th, 2009 No comments
Have I mentioned before that I’m the UKOLN Remote Worker Champion?
In the last couple of months here at UKOLN we’ve been trying a out a few relatively easy to implement ideas that will hopefully make remote working a little easier. All these ideas are ‘low hanging fruit’ and something most organisations could quite easily have a go at.
Videoing Staff Seminars
We are lucky enough to have a good number of excellent speakers who come to visit UKOLN and give presentations on their work. In the past you had to physically attend a session to hear the talk, for remote workers this would mean a long trip for an hour-long seminar. Recently our systems team have invested in a High Definition HDD Camcorder and we are now able to video and share the talks after the event, presenter agreeing.
The camcorder is a Canon HG20 which was chosen by the systems team but I’m sure you could achieve a great deal without such a high specification camera. The HG20 is a very nice camera indeed, and we still have quite a long way to go to realising it’s full potential. During the initial trial we recorded the footage at very high quality, which couldn’t easily be converted to Web quality for sharing! At the moment only a few members of the systems team know how to use the camera, but once set up it just requires turning on. Usually someone is available to manipulate and move it during the session, but if not a reasonable quality can be achieved by just leaving it.
The video footage is released as soon as possible after the seminar along with the slides and any other multimedia used. All seminars are available for staff use indefinitely and stored in our staff Intranet. They are not currently available externally but this is something we may look at in the future. Obviously making seminars available in this way is great for all staff as many are out of the office or otherwise busy and unable to attend.
Support for Phoning in to meetings
UKOLN have recently purchased a new conference phone that has 6 microphones. This avoids the constant ‘phone shifting’ we used to have to suffer during staff meetings, it also means that people who are phoning in can hear questions and comments much better.
All UKOLN remote workers have Skype accounts and an appointed person usually connects to those phoning in to the meeting to monitor any problems with the sound, questions etc. We also try to follow the guidance I mentioned in a previous blog post on virtual meetings.
Anyone presenting at a meeting makes every effort to ensure their presentation slides are available in good time so remote workers can access them. We are toying with the idea of having a ‘remote worker’s deposit area’ that acts as an online storage facility for each meeting.
Staff Development Day
We have been lucky enough to secure a staff development day for Remote workers later this month. The day, which will be a follow up to our previous workshop and again be facilitated by Sylvia Vacher, will focus on time management and motivation. We intend to have a social night (for all staff) on the night before the workshop so hopefully it will be a good bonding opportunity generally.
Remote Workers List
I’ve recently set up a internal remote workers email list. This allows other UKOLN staff to address us directly as a group (for example for admin tasks) and also for us to share ideas, discuss things etc. I’ve also been sending out a email newsletter with a round up of current activities. We all have a common issue (dealing with working out of the office) so have much to discuss and the list has been useful without being overwhelming.
Quite a few of us also now have Twitter accounts, which has been another way to stay in touch.
Thanks to the Systems and management teams for all their help with implementing these ideas.
If you have any ideas on other easy to implement support techniques then please do comment.
Posted on February 19th, 2009 5 comments
I’ve sort of missed the boat on blogging about the Facebook ‘Terms of Service’ debacle but here’s my two pennies worth anyway.
For those who don’t watch the news, surf the Web or use Facebook a quick sum up!
Facebook changed their TOS earlier this week from stating that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire to acknowledging that they could retain archived copies of your content. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, defended this decision saying that is was to “better reflect how users used the site.” His argument was that it was to enable consistency if people left by keeping comments on pictures, links to information etc.
A consumerist article highlighted the changes which effectively said that Facebook would have the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. Within days people were up in arms about it. Facebook have since backed down after pressure from consumer and civil liberty groups.
Since the back down there have been two main observations.
People don’t understand what rights social networking sites have over their data
It’s been pointed out that the enthusiasm people have when using these type of sites clouds their understanding of what rights the sites have over their data. This is nothing new, the confusion over ‘who owns what?’ started with the invention of the printing press but the ubiquity of the Internet can lead to quick and frightening consequences. (I was thinking about this the other day when I saw a trailer for RudeTube (an awful E4 television show that televises videos from YouTube), did these people really realise their antics could be shown on TV so their Nan could watch them? Mind you whose Nan is up that late?)
My colleague Brian Kelly states in his blog “My, perhaps somewhat controversial view, is that there has been a failure to recognise the complexities related to ownership of data in a social networked environment and instead we have been seeing simplistic solutions being proposed which, if applied generally, would undermine the development of the more open social networks which, ironically, many of those engaged in the discussions would actually prefer to see.”
Copyright, ownership, intellectual property rights and all that is pretty complicated stuff. If confused I sometimes direct a question to Jordan Hatcher (OpenContentlawyer) but there are no guarantees I’ll understand the answer!
“Access to your data is what matters – but it also needs to be carefully understood. For example, access to your health records might not be a good thing. Rather, you can control who has access to that data. Similarly, whilst no one might own your data, what you do have is the right to demand guidelines and principles like what we are trying to do at the DataPortability Project on how “your” data can be used. Certainly, the various governmental privacy and data protection legislation around the world does exactly that: it governs how companies can use personally identifiable data.”
So the issue is really what Facebook do with your data. And that is a question even they don’t know the answer to yet.
Social Networking sites are struggling to make money out of their users
The Guardian technology blog points out that “Facebook has a problem. Every time it looks as though it’s going to wriggle its way to creaming just a bit more money from its millions of users’ comings and goings, they spot it – and get vocal enough to force a reverse.”
It’s the same for all the other similar sites. Raw data is all they have and if they can’t do more with it then they are going to eventually go to the Web site graveyard in the sky. My colleague Paul Walk has written a blog post saying that “there is only one thing of potential, unproven, value to Facebook and that is the aggregate of users’ attention data.”
He continues “We flatter ourselves if we think Facebook is interested in our uploaded photos from the office party. What they really want is to know what we think, what we like and don’t like, what we buy, how we plan to vote….. People will pay large amounts of money for this kind of data.”
If they can’t make money from this data where does it leave us people who now find we are increasingly using these sites as part of our working practice? Can we really go on getting something for nothing?
I suppose the answer is for us users not to put all our eggs in one basket. At UKOLN my colleague Brian Kelly and I have mentioned the whole risk management approach for Web 2.0 time and time again. Take a look at the ‘Risk Assessment For Making Use Of Third Party Web 2.0 Services’ briefing paper written way back.
I’m afraid I haven’t really added to the debate but I just wanted to flag that we, as users, need to make sure we watch this space and stay vigilant!
Posted on January 29th, 2009 4 comments
I’ve been following a thread on the LIS-BLOGGERS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK list (a discussion list for library and information services bloggers) with interest. The original posting asked about the current use of Twitter by libraries.
There have been some useful links to information about which libraries have accounts and how people are using it. However the most interesting thing for me has been an offshoot conversation about blocking of Web sites and Twitter.
One person (I won’t mention any names here) responded with a useful link and then went on to explain that this site (a blog – which sounded like a pretty useful site) along with others were blocked during core work hours. Note that the person who made the comment works for a commercial law company.
I guess at this point most of the list subscribers who work in academia took a sharp intake of breath. Blocking of sites seems alien to those of us who work in a culture of ‘learning’. However in the not to distant past there have been discussions of IT services blocking use of tools like Skype, though this tends to be more for security and bandwidth reasons. Blocking the Web seems very strange to us academics.
Tim Fletcher from Birbeck then pointed out that the blockage of such sites “leaves those of us who are trying use services such as Twitter for perfectly legitimate and appropriate purposes in a difficult position”.He goes on to say that he feels “the difficulty comes when a “social network” tool goes into the mainstream and becomes a business or service network tool and some employers or institutions are not prepared or geared up for that change. It is also a benefit of working in the HE sector and possibly we have a role in trying and testing these things so that colleagues in other sectors can show their employer or institution the benefits, assuming there are some.” Some good points here.
Although it was actually a Web site that had been blocked Phil Bradley equated this with the blocking of Twitter and explained that “it is absolute insanity to ban its use in an organizational setting.”
The posts reiterate the divide in culture between the academic and the commercial sectors. However I think they also show how Web 2.0 technologies have started to bridge this divide. Twitter is now mainstream. Its business uses have been well documented and most forward thinking commercial companies already use it. Even if the bosses are not supportive of the use of certain technologies and sites it seems to me only a matter of time before they succumb. It’s not just about treating your staff as responsible workers but also recognising the current trend in communication.
In the meantime those of us who work from home can feel smug that no-one gets to block what we look at.
Posted on January 2nd, 2009 3 comments
Telepresence…I assume most people won’t have heard of it so I’ll stick with tradition and start off with a Wikipedia definition:
“Telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location.”
The defining feature of these technologies is that they are sense driven. This means that the user should be provided with lots of stimuli from the other location to make the experience as real as possible. Information ends up travelling from both directions, from the remote user to the technology and back again.
Currently my only experience of telepresence is limited to snippets from the Gadget Show (YouTube video). Recently I stumbled on a reference to it in Scott Hanselman’s blog. Scott is a Principal Program Manager for Microsoft and has been working from home for just over a year now. Scott and his team had a chance to remotely drive/beta-test a Telepresence robot from RoboDynamics, the first company to commercialise an enterprise Robotic Telepresence platform.
Scott describes the telepresence robot as:
“.. pretty sweet. They’ve got a 26x Optical Zoom and pan/tilt/zoom on the camera. There’s a screen for your “head” so that folks can recognize you as you wander around. I was able to walk all over their office. The control console includes sonar and bumpers so when I got close to bumping into the fridge in their office kitchen I could “see” the distance to the fridge and avoid it.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to letting a virtual beastie into your company. Is it on the network? Which network? What access? Who is it logged in as? What if it’s stolen?”
It’s obvious that there are a myriad of possible applications of these technologies. Commercial companies are already using them and further research will make them mainstream before we know it. There is further information on possible uses on the Telepresence World site.
For me the main areas of interest are:
Telepresence has a lot to offer education. The telepresence classroom is something you will no doubt be hearing more about in the future.
There is some useful information in the JISC Satellite pilot report, notably in the Satellite applications in education section.
It will be a little while before we see ‘Ronnie the robot’ in the UKOLN office or have a telepresence room but it will be great for us remote workers when we do.
As Scott puts it: “I‘d really like be able to “walk” into someone’s office. Just pop in to see if they are there. I want to get involved in hallway conversations.”
A telepresence is definitely one step closer to a real presence.
Posted on October 20th, 2008 1 comment
At the Interent Librarian International conference last week I went to a presentation by Michael Stephens (Dominican University) and Michael Casey (Gwinnett Public Library) on 12 steps to a Transparent Library – based on their Transparent Library blog.
These guys speak a lot of sense.
At one point they showed an image created by Brian Solis, principal of Future works, a PR company in Silicon Valley. He writes a blog called PR 2.0. The image was called The Conversation Prism.
It is also available from Flickr with links added.
The conversation map is a living, breathing representation of Social Media and will evolve as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse, and dissipate.
If a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen?
Indeed. Conversations are taking place with or without you and this map will help you visualize the potential extent and pervasiveness of the online conversations that can impact and influence your business and brand.
The links given could keep you going for a month of Sundays! It makes you realise how quickly communication mechanisms are changing.
This weekend we set up our first Skype/video chat with the in-laws. The kids (aged 6, 4 and 1) loved it and didn’t seem to think that there was anything strange or ‘space age’ about chatting to Grandma and Grandpa through the computer. My daughter’s only concern was how whether they would get bored sat in front of the PC waiting for our next call! I reassured her that as soon as we signed off they’d get back to their gardening and pottering…and the other stuff retired people tend to do in the breaks between using social networking tools and researching their family tree on the Web!