Sunday 31 August 2014

From landscape to landmark ; changing workers, robots in charge & messages in messenger

The last 5 to 6 years of my life have involved a lot of travel. Not just the 'hitting the motorway/highway in my car' variety, which is par for the course these days for a lot of people, but more of the trans-global sort.

I mention this as even a decade ago, travelling on planes was still considered more of a holiday based scenario or more for those who were the mid to top level 'executive' type. In effect, theese are the ones with different offices in different countries, a suitcase always near the door, passport more or less at hand, with the apparel reflecting this 'got to go now!' attitude and mindset. But something somewhere has changed during the last decade. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, other than to think that the cost of flights has come down with internet based competition, so the anicilliary industries have followed suit..or have they?

The cost of travel isn't the only reason, and I think this article here sheds a lot of light on what is going on :-

5 Ways the Workforce Will Change in 5 Years

Now this is obviously more centred towards a particular demographic, namely the millenials, as the article states. It also generally covers the developed countries and I'd say the bigger cities too, where mobility per se is far greater, due to the whole 'pace of life' effect; you end up moving jobs, and residences a lot more than in more provincial towns. 

Also, free time is at a premium, so everything seems to be happening in a  much faster timeframe. But I'd say this concept covers a much wider spread, cause we're all part of the bigger urbanised socio-economic ecosystem. One thing really does lead to another nowadays, much more than in the predominantly analog world of old.

From my own perspective of being self employed and  born in the 1970's, I didn't think Id be working for one employer all my life. Maybe I'm rarer in that respect, in that I'd be happily ensconced with a variety of jobs and skillsets, so by luck and my own restless design, I chose to do other things cause I felt I could give them  my best ( or any) shot. I'd be less willing to juggle that many plates now, but I'm fine with the long distance travelling aspect being a part of the workflow on an ad-hoc basis, as I'd already done it prior to this sort of thing now becoming the norm.

I will say you have to take a bit more care of your physical health as it's easy to fall into bad dietary habits and succumb to travel based burnout over a period of time, but other than that, It's clearly the way forward for many people. Obviously there always has to be a specialised, localised workforce, but the next article is a semi-reiteration of a post from last week, where I referenced the now rapidly-going-viral video of the workforce being eventually replaced by automation. This is more about integrating the two :-

Study: Humans Are Happier When We Have Robot Overlords

Right now, I'm not so sure about that being governed completely by robots in a work environment is necessarily a great idea for a lot of human action/reactions that defy logic as working methods and even rest/play.  I'm also surprised that the humans performed better when the robot had full governance/ autonomy over scheduling conditions.

However, my mild cynicism can be explained by the fact that the environment and it's incumbents were under 'test conditions', so im assuming a level of awareness by the human contingent meant they would be operating under a level of skew or pre-emptive awareness of the test conditions. Besides which, conditional variances and larger numbers of incumbent variables during testing  give testing a far greater level of authenticity in my opinion, as the results can be more easily aggregated to better accuracy to deliver a truer relfection of a 'what if' scenario.

In effect, this MIT study based article is a worthy report on the man/machine interactivity development. But as I said at the start, I think we still have a very long way to go before a machine can get anywhere close to the millions, if not billions of combinations/permutations that the human mind, body and spirit can conjure up in order to get things done, be it for work or play.

Speaking of playing around, it seems a lot of people are getting tired of playing around with facebook's new method of chat, as utilised on the smartphone platform : -

Facebook Really Wants You To Stop Being Pissed About Messenger

I've had facebook messenger on my phone for months and after the second time I used it ( where people I no longer had any connection to, attempted conversations with me..strange), I thought it was just a mish-mash of bloatware. I couldn't get my head around why they needed to seperate it from facebook itself, other than to perhaps allow more throughput for the main app useage itself, as the chat users were possibly slowing the whole structure down, due to increased numbers.

In any event, I'm not much of a Facebook user these days, which could be a phase ( I've discussed it here) I'm going through, so it's not affecting me on a general basis either way. All I can say is that from a design point of view, I think the whole Facebook experience has started to become a bit too complicated in some ways, and that if I was to think of signing up for an account today, I'd think twice due to the length of creating a profile.

Still, I'm hopeful that either there'll be an offshoot or a completely new platform, as I suspect most "on the go" types ( including myself), prefer a more streamlined experience where you're not going to be caught up in endless debating and so on coupled with the now 'detached-yet-joined' experience of messenger, which twitter in particularly is great for, cause the 140 character limit really pushes you to be brief and to the point. That in itself, is an artform.

And on that creative note, I'm off to check out a concert with multiple performances from different genres, genders and backgrounds. A real life melting pot of creative goodness.

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