Defrag 2009 opened today in downtown Denver, Colorado. Defrag’s own Eric Norlin stormed the blue-lit stage to the applause of an enthusiastic audience.
Mr. Norlin introduced the two keynote speakers with Defrag’s subliminal mission statement: “We build technology to amplify our intelligence with individual and groups to achieve greater productivity…not only person-to-person but also enterprise wide". Defrag 2009 is really about this intersection, with reference to the economic state of jobless recovery. Defrag 2009 is about exchanging ideas to increase productivity.
Be Soylent, Eat People
With brief introductory remarks finished, he introduced Mr. Andy Kessler whose keynote entitled, “Be Soylent, Eat People” emphasized the two categories of employees: creators and servers.
In an economy where the homeless hold signs that say, “Will code HTML for food”, Mr. Kessler’s message was simple: the economy sucks.
The range of iniquity of those six categories of workers who are sucking the economy dry (servers, sub-servers, sloppers, super-sloppers, spongers and slimers) depends on where employees work in society; however, it is not limited to blue or white collar workers.
His overarching message was “The zip code to look in? Productivity. Output per worker hour. It’s the only thing that increases wealth. Increase output per less workers".
Ms. Lili Cheng of Microsoft’s Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs followed with a similar message, placing emphasis on creation.
Opening with “Simplicity is the key to social networking", Ms. Cheng subdivided her presentation into three principal themes: Social at Work, Social at Work by Students and Social in Education.
Social At Work
Social at Work” began with a description of a few tools developed in-house for Microsoft and she shared her own end user reaction (“I really didn’t use it”) and the group analytics post-implementation.
The learning lesson for integrating a social networking tool with a traditional email interface? Privacy concerns run rampant when there is a sidebar outlining extraneous information regarding the sender whose email you are reading.
The pros of “Social at Work”: rich dynamic profile of end users and their communication habits, ease of bootstrapping internals for critical mas; and minimal bad behavior and abuse.
The challenges: simplifying the external user interface, deployment data quality and security and measuring and increasing collaboration and productivity.
Social at Work by Students
Social at Work by Students” summarized the team responses of student groups who were posed the question: what will work look like in the future? Overwhelmingly, easy organization of projects and tasks for groups drove team responses; however, one unique project from Dundee University in Scotland was, in Ms. Cheng’s view, “actually about doing work".
All the other projects were about managing information. The outcome of the contest was recognition of a set of challenges: how do companies automagically organize projects? How do we design an engaging workplace with tools that are designed to motivate? How do we support actual work?
Social In Education
Her final section, “Social in Education” highlighted a design tool offered through the Xbox for an audience of K-12, “because making stuff is a life skill". It’s time to demystify and engage kids in design. Sidenote: interested academic institutions are engaging with FUSE Labs to understand further and implement.
Ms. Cheng summarized her talk with, “Note: all the concepts of social web are moving into every aspect of life".