Access 2014: Closing Keynote Productivity and Collaboration in the Age of Digital Distraction

The closing keynote for Access 2014. He spoke really fast, so apologies if I missed a couple of points.

Presented by Jesse Brown Digital Media Expert, Futurist, Broadcast Journalist


Bitstrips: To make fun cartoons. Co-founder.

CBC show

Podcast: Canadaland, broader view of media, in a global sense to what’s happening to society and culture.

Technology Changing Culture

Productivity and connecting in this age of digital distraction. Either connecting or disconnecting us.

40% of people have their phone on 24/7; 80% keep their phone by the bed; 40% check on toilet; 94% panic or sick when separated from phone.

It’s a different way of accessing of the Internet. Great engine of procrastination. Some of the most powerful companies are dedicating themselves to distract people, often with nonsense. How to make people addicted with often trivial things.

What is this doing to our brains?

How We Work

Fundamental shift in how we do our work. Solve the problem of work life balance before we leave here today.

Get away from the idea that things were so focused and great beforehand. People always find ways to distract themselves. Some research says some distractions actually make people more productive.

Get away from meetings. This is not the way to do things especially when the meetings have nothing to do with getting the project done.

Value the ability to work at home. It comes with new problems, but not necessarily a bad thing.

Forget work-life balance. Go for integration instead. Work is not in a box anymore.

Was it ever that efficient to have a common work place? One of the advantages is a dispersed work force. If you want choose from the best talent, you cannot just look locally. People and the organization can save money and time.

Hacking work

A trend. e.g. lifehacker; hacking exerciese e.g. fitbit data and engineering mindset to all aspects of our life.

Are we overthinking this? Isn’t it just a matter of self control? You can get an app for that e.g. SelfControl, Freedom

So many ways to ‘how to focus’, but assumes no external forces.

There are many useful tools e.g. Basecamp, Campfire No one was talking out loud, but actually communicating constantly through the apps. There is so much formality around communication, but this turns it into more constant informal communication. Sharing document rather than talking about it. Did away with a lot of meetings.

Salesforce: built an app where anonymous feedback on meetings. Evolved into gamefication where employees could get badges and such. But needs to be backed by value, rather than just capitalizing on the lizard brain. e.g. progress bar we just stare at it. We do the same thing with getting notifications via emails.

Anyone in the world can make my pants buzz.

Big Data

Organizations own all of our data. e.g. IBM trying to rethink workplace using employee emails. Tracked trends by asking e.g. who was the first person to use Facebook or Twitter. Found ideas would flow into certain offices and die there.

You can do this for yourself. e.g. tenXer, Cataphora. Give it access to everything, does analysis of your relationships, work life, social life. But what actionable value is there? Or does it just become a productivity tool that distracts you?

Change in Values

Agile: Collaborating with user. Responding to change in an iterative way.

Used to obsess about but now it’s a minimum viable product. Articles become a living document. No longer a perfect offering. People are not just users, but collaborators.

It’s the values of these technologies that are most important and transforming.

For example, Google 80/20 rule. Hires some of the best minds, but people began leaving. Started to ask questions. Worked really hard, but had no way to do a startup of their own great ideas. Google decided on what you’re hired to do is only 80% of the time, 20% of the time should be working on something else.

It’s about the understanding that human beings are creative, and don’t want to be working on the same problem all the time. More humane and respective workplace. Willingness to allow failure, because it’s valuable.

Fail early, fail often.

So useful when in an new environment, where it’s no longer very expensive to fail.

Try different things to do see what’s the best response e.g. A/B testing

Netflix: no set vacation time. Ultimately assessed on performance.

Work Life

Used to be this idea of work then home, work then home, but was this every really true?

What actually distracts us? Phone or something else? Multi-tasking is just doing a lot of things badly.

Solution: forget about it altogether.

We are changing the way we relate to each other. The world is full of interesting things.

When we started writing emails like we wrote letters, but that evolves. How can be increase productivity? What is the end goal? Are we trying to create a more humane way to live?

End of Day

Time to get some recovery rest. Safe travels everyone.

two sleeping cats

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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