|By Joe Winchester||
|April 16, 2007 03:00 PM EDT||
At the annual Alan Turing memorial lecture given by Grady Booch in London last month, he chose as his subject, The promise, the limits, and the beauty of software. It was an excellent address in which one of the themes was that for each of the incredible advances that software has brought to our lives, there is an almost Newtonian opposite effect that is negative and destructive. One such example given was e-mail: while making us able to communicate instantly with our peers, allowing effective and immediate information sharing, it brings its own set of problems. Issues with information theft, virus attachments, phishing, worms, and privacy are well documented and are very real threats although, to a certain extent, these are merely mirrors of real-world phenomena that e-mail merely amplifies and concentrates. The question that interests me the most is whether e-mail actually increases or decreases communication effectiveness.
The success of humans as a species over other animals can almost solely be attributed to our ability to communicate with each other. While this may have evolved as a mechanism to simply aid survival in the wild, it allows one generation to capture and record knowledge and information that it can share with its offspring. They in turn don't have to rediscover the fundamentals of how to perform a particular task, such as hunting, weaving, or building homes, and can enjoy a more efficient existence than their forefathers, and as a result can increase the body of acquired knowledge for their offspring. Discourse between individuals took the form of face-to-face encounters, where body language, speech inflexion, emotions, etc., are all present and the physical nature of a meeting constrains its length and duration. Telephones and, to a certain extent, instant message clients, extend the distance over which this exchange of ideas and information can occur. Printing, the act of recording words in text, was designed primarily as one-way flow of information between the writer and the reader. Twenty-first century e-mail is something that challenges us because, being text based, it lies in the family of printed media; however, its usage is less for publishing information and more as a forum for exchanging ideas and opinions and performing long-distance discussions.
One problem this brings is that once there are more end points and inputs available, the phenomenon information overload occurs. This describes a state in which a person isn't able to make a decision or informed choice about a particular topic because he or she has too much data to digest. It occurs because e-mail often creates a low signal-to-noise ratio where important content is buried in a swath of reply lists and carbon-copied exchanges that the recipient has to trawl through, often following external links to further citations that then link to more and more sources of information, making the information-gathering process potentially endless and unbound. A New Scientist report, www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7298, found that the net effect of e-mail information overload was to lower the recipient's IQ by 10 points; the same drop that occurs by missing a full night's sleep. Interestingly, men did twice as worse as women in the research, although whether this is due to the ability to process the volume of information more effectively or organize ones time more efficiently isn't concluded by the study.
E-mail addiction is another disturbing problem that has its own advice centers and, ironically, mailing lists you can subscribe to and receive helpful advice in your in-box www.netaddiction.com. Behavioral traits to watch for include answering messages during meals or social engagements. The reason this is problematic is because the urge to open the mail isn't because the sender is expecting it to occur; it's because the recipient's urge to know why and by whom he is being contacted is more interesting than his current surroundings. It reminds me of the old adage, "How do you keep a fool in suspense?", to which the answer is, "I'll tell you tomorrow."
Anthroposemiotics, the study of group dynamics, identifies that e-mail, like driving a car, gives people a sense of anonymous power. The same emotion that gives rise to road rage can cause people to exhibit aggressive behavior with e-mails where the language and tone of the exchange is one that would never occur if the conversation occurred face to face. Senders of flame mail are disconnecting themselves from reality by using their computer as an alternative reality to which their alter ego belongs. Just as video game fights and conflicts allow people to vent aggressive frustrations in imaginary virtual worlds, the computer as a machine is our medium in which people can reinvent themselves and engage foes with seemingly physical impunity.
The ineffectiveness of e-mail has even prompted various companies to ban it on certain days of the week, forcing employees to resort to more traditional communication means, such as having a chat in the hallway or talking to a colleague over the phone. Others have gone even further - including complete corporate-wide e-mail bans http://news.zdnet.co.uk/itmanagement/0,1000000308,39116502,00.htm. It seems draconian that such measures need to be taken, analogous to avoiding food poisoning by going on a hunger strike.
The problem with e-mail ineffectiveness can almost always be solved by applying simple time management rules to its usage and only visiting the in-box at sensibly placed intervals in each day, rather than operating in a reactive high-interrupt mode. While this does work to make one's day more effective, it does put the onus of responsibility back onto the user rather than the creator of the software. A disturbing trait I've encountered throughout my career as a software engineer is one in which programmers blame users for incorrect operation, with quips such as "they should have read the manual" or "user error, they were stupid enough to take the wrong option that deleted their data." Software is now so prevalent in our lives that it has become part of the fabric of society, and as engineers we should apply ourselves to thinking about the negative consequences of its usage and try to understand and prevent the extremes of its usage and abusage; whether intended or accidental. If nothing else, we owe it to the generation that follows us.
|Brian Smith 04/19/07 05:12:04 PM EDT|
You should read Neil Postman's Technopoly.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
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Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 457
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Nov. 24, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 281
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Nov. 24, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 415
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 332
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 404
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 485
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 479
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. Because they can be accessed via the Internet, these devices create a tremendous opportunity to inte...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 476
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 490
SYS-CON Events announced today that Kintone has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
Nov. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 563
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Nov. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 330
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 24, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 124
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
Nov. 24, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 348
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 24, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 256
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Nov. 24, 2015 06:45 AM EST Reads: 333
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Nov. 24, 2015 06:15 AM EST Reads: 237
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 24, 2015 04:45 AM EST Reads: 373