I heard an interesting talk on IT Conversations, Thomas Malone on the future of work. The basic thesis is that democracy is a function of the cost of communication, and that as communication costs dropped in society democracy emerged in governance. He posits that we will see democracy in business governance in the same sort of way. I can tell you that I’m a beneficiary of that sort of work organization, where cheap communications obviate my having to sit in an office with everyone else.
I have a magic phone on my desk, where I can dial an extension that rings hundreds of miles away, the main number can rollover to me if so desired, and my voicemails get emailed to me as an attachment. The majority of communication with my coworkers actually occurs via instant message. To me, the idea that less of our energy of the workday (human and chemical and mechanical) goes into moving our atoms from home to work and back and more goes into moving ideas and electrons is a win for everyone.
And in a barely related topic, somewhere around here is the five year anniversary of the only layoff of my career. Now there’s an event that changed my relationship with work permanently. When a company that asked so much of me professionally and personally threw me overboard for their own convenience, it forever altered how I look at such requests.