Getting Zinged

Bee

So there is the work at work. 


And then there is the behind the scenes people stuff that goes on.


And anyone who has been around the block long enough in organizations know that the people stuff is where all the “craziness” happens. 


A friend told me a story about their colleague.


The colleague sends a trash-talking email about the person at work, but instead of sending it to the presumed audience they instead send to the person himself….oops. 


So the veneer of “how your doing today?” and “hope you have a nice weekend!” is revealed by something else. 


Awkward, no?


Email is generally a positive method of communication, but also can be treacherous and revealing.


No matter at work, the main thing is stay focused on the mission and not to get sidetracked by the zinger of the day. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Drones Neighbor Against Neighbor

Drones
Fascinating perspective in the New York Times today on the future diabolical use of drones.



Yes, drones can be used for defense, law enforcement, search and rescue, neighborhood watch, agriculture, and even Amazon or Pizza Hut deliveries. 



But what about the darker side of drones–used neighbor against neighbor, where anyone can buy a fairly sophisticated drone for merely hundreds of dollars and use it against others in the community.



– Want to use the (surveillance) camera to spy on your neighbor?



– Want to use its claws to pick up and steal something?



– Want to airlift and plant evidence or contraband and frame someone unjustly?



– Want to distract someone or cause an accident or fatality?



Ok, I am going a lot further than the NYT article…but really what prevents people from doing these things and more?



The article does mention new FAA policies “prohibiting drones from flying [over stadiums] near major sporting events.”



But think about a drone in the hands of a terrorist with a dirty bomb or G-d forbid, even a WMD, and the drone swooping into a densely populated area like a stadium or even Times Square…what would prevent this–perhaps, nothing?



Think about it…this is about to become a lot more dangerous world because drones are not just for the good guys anymore, and the bad guys may not care about FAA regulations and penalties. 



(Source Photo: here with attribution to outacontext)

Just Can’t Bear To Think

Whether though endless work, family activities, exercise, computer time, or whatever, people have a hard time just stopping to think. 

According to the Washington Post, a study in Science shows that people would rather do just about anything–including administer electric shocks to themselves–rather than having to just think for a little while. 

Fully 67% of men and 25% of women chose electric shocks over sitting and thinking for just 6-15 minutes!

People are “desperate for distractions”–whether through social media or smartphones and more.

This is why many ancient practices such as Buddhism, martial arts, yoga, and other disciplines teach meditation–sitting silently, without distraction, deeply in thought. 

People are afraid to stop their endless running, rounds of chores and activities, hustle and bustle, and just think about what they are actually doing and where they are going.

Sitting alone with yourself–you have to confront you!

  • Fears and anxieties
  • Life problems of all sorts
  • Mistakes and personal inadequacies
  • Bad habits and even dangerous addictions

Keeping yourself endlessly busy is an enabler to avoid sometimes painful reflection, introspection, and even necessary self-help. 

While you often hear that doctors recommend a certain amount of activity to keep physically healthy, I believe that similarly, mental and spiritual guidance would be for carving out time for physical inactivity and instead focusing on meditation and reflection. 

Perhaps, this is one reason that the Sabbath (kept in various ways by religions around the world) is so important to the mind and soul–it is a time to stop the work and daily mundane activities and instead focus on your spiritual side. 

Contrary to what you might think, refraining from all the activity may be one of the hardest things to actually do, but stopping and thinking (instead of just continuously doing), confronting yourself, and making life course corrections can be some of the most rewarding. 

Can you stop and think for just 15 minutes or do you need that next fix of compulsive distraction? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>"Your Brain On Google"

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Amazing video called “Digital Nation.”
Some great points from the interviewees at MIT, Stanford, and more:
“We are immersed in technology all the time.”
– “Technology is like oxygen.”
– “Well over half our lives exist in the digital world now.”
– “We are constantly multi-tasking and distracted.”
– “The world has sped up.”
“We just want to push the pause button.”
– “The Internet has changed from things one does to how one lives.”
– “We are changing what it means to be human.”

– “We are rewriting the rules of interaction for human beings.”

– “Can we solve the alienation that technology has created with more technology?
– “Does increasing use of technology have diminishing returns at some points?”
These questions and thoughts really resonate with me.
Looking back in my own life, things seemed so much simpler 10, 20, and 30 years ago.
Then we were less connected online and maybe a lot stupider intellectually, but more connected in real ways–doing real things with family, friends, and community.
Life is certainly faster now, but are we happier as human beings?
Are we losing ourselves and becoming part of the vast interconnected cyberspace almost as half-humans and half-machines ourselves?

>Information Addicts and Enterprise Architecture

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As an enterprise architect, my job is to develop plans and governance for IT to meet mission/user requirements, which is typically for more and more information. But is more information the answer?

The Wall Street Journal, 12 June 2008, reports on a new book called Distracted by Maggie Johnson, that talks about instant communication robbing “the workday of any sustained interval of unbroken attention to a particular task…from email to instant messaging to Twitter—an-update service devoted to what-are-you-doing-at-this-moment inanity–the interval between interruptions appears to approaching zero.”

“In the workplace, a distracted knowledge worker is a fallow asset.” Ms. Jackson reports that:

  • “Workers ‘typically change tasks every three minutes’ and ‘take about twenty-five minutes to return to an interrupted task…usually plugging into two other work projects in the interim.’
  • By one estimate, ‘interruptions take up to 2.1 hours of an average worker’s day and cost the economy $588 billion a year.’

“Many distractions turn out to be self-initiated: It appears that we just can’t wait to read the next email or blog entry or check to see what might be happening in an online discussion.”

We are addicted to information. On one hand, we want more and more information and complain bitterly whenever we are out of our carrier’s coverage or otherwise not able to use our cell phones, email, or internet connections. And on the other hand, we are so overloaded with information and so distracted all the time, we are walking around with our heads spinning, not knowing what to focus on next. We are true information junkies!

The information overload and incessant disruptions and distractions are not limited to the workplace. No, indeed.

I don’t know about you, but time for me is an endless deluge of everything information, driven by technology (especially email, blogging, professional networking, internet news and search, and so on).

Yet, while we absorb and spit out more and more information, our quality of life seems in many ways worse and worse. The things that are really important like spirituality, family, friends, charitable giving, and health/fitness is eroded by our incessant need for the next information fix.

We run away to getaway resorts, bed-and-breakfasts, and day trips, only to take our Blackberries or worse yet our laptops. We check our email compulsively. We check our networking sites to see where our friends are and what they are doing. We check for the latest information on this, that, and the other thing. We are checking ourselves into a dizzying numbness, where we are losing touch with real people in the real world in lieu of information ubiquity and life in a virtual world. We are losing important pieces of ourselves in our addiction to information.

So what’s an enterprise architect to do?

  • Baseline—awareness is step #1. We need to recognize that we are creating an information addicted society for ourselves and our children. Information ubiquity, if not our current state, is certainly where we are well on the way to. In fact, I’ve seen many organization’s IT strategic plans that specifically state their vision as information 24x7x365 or anytime, anywhere.
  • Target—planning for a better tomorrow. We need to take control and set a target state that balances the “highs” that we get from more and more information, with the need to be better people—better to ourselves and to others, more inclined towards our spiritual needs, physical health, and more in touch with the real world versus the virtual.
  • Transition Plan—getting from here to there. We need to wean ourselves off the constant information fix. It’s easy to get addicted. I had many a caffeine headache until I got myself some decaf beverages. Similarly, smokers often must substitute a nicotine patch for a cigarette. We need to plan time for spirituality, family, friends, and other activities that wean us off the information addiction we have.