Four freedoms of work

If we want engagement, and the mediocrity busting results it produces, we have to make sure people have autonomy over the four most important aspects of their work:

Task – What they do
Time – When they do it
Technique – How they do it
Team – Whom they do it with.

from Daniel H. Pink in What Matters Now in the Chapter titled Autonomy. This free ebook from Seth Godin is certainly a great read.

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Of Practical Knowledge and Dynamics of Innovation

Forms of Transmission of practical knowledge and its impact on the dynamics of Innovation

The project's approach proceeds from the assumption that the dynamics of innovative processes are crucially affected by the distinct culture of communicating, accumulating and implementing practical knowledge. It sees that innovation benefits in a cumulative way from the circulation, access and recombination of different, pre-existing bits of knowledge embodied by a variety of actors. The project distinguishes between transmission methods, i.e. personal contacts that transport tacit as well as explicit knowledge, skills and experience supplemented by the transmission of knowledge in materia as apparent in tools, machines and products and finally written transmission.

This is an important area of research to find out why certain groups are more innovative than others.

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Making Things Work?

Stumbled upon this piece while reading a reference to "Cognition In the Wild".

Much of the trouble of making things work will be in communication, in getting sufficiently similar ideas of the world into everybody's head that that they agree, near enough, on how to change it, or at least so that they all know what part they are to play in the change.

I guess like any other endeavor, successful software development hinges on sharing a common mental model to start with. Is that why smaller teams are better? Since the sharing and agreeing on "what part they are to play in change" is easier?

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BookLog: Technologies As Social Beings

From Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton

As technology becomes more and more pervasive, it is finding itself in increasingly diverse and specialized contexts. Te technologies that we design do not, and never will, exist in a vacuum. In any meaningful sense, they only have meaning, or relevance, in a social and physical context. And increasingly, that social context is with respect to other devices as well as people.

As much as people, technologies need to be thought of as social beings, and in a social context.

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Google Groups for Google Apps Premier and Education Users

Google announces the  launch of Google Groups to Google Apps Premier and Education Edition users.

Google Apps offers enterprise-grade security and control while letting businesses instantly tap into a swift stream of innovation, based on services tested by hundreds of millions of people around the world. We've launched over 100 improvements to Google Apps in the last year, and the pace of innovation continues to increase.

Google Groups is a good addition to Google Apps. It will help companies build web scale applications and provide several collaboration platforms to be integrated into the applications. I will be eagerly looking at integration points (API) for Google Groups. This will allow easy creation of communities inside enterprises and educational institutions. More on this topic later.

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Linklog: Indian Product Innovation? Why Don’t We See Much?

From The Limitations of Jugaad by Radhika Chaada

Think of the R&D labs in India for Microsoft, Adobe, GE, or any other Western company. They are considered among the best within their parent companies – but only for solving pre-determined problems. The problems themselves are conceptualised and defined in the West.

When I spoke to Anand Chhatpar, CEO, BrainReactions, this is what he had to say. “The people in Bangalore used the same Dell Inspiron computers, the same broadband Internet connections, the same Microsoft Windows platform PCs, the same programming languages and databases used in Silicon Valley, but the people in the US were making multi-billion dollar Google, while the people in India were still testing office applications and doing grunt-work for American companies. Why? One of the investors, one of the scientists and a large number of employees in Google are Indians, the technology is the same, so why was Google not developed in India? In fact, almost 40 per cent of Silicon Valley start-ups have been formed by Indian entrepreneurs. Why then were the entrepreneurs in India still doing work on contract in the service sector and not innovating products for the world?” And he added that while globally, India was being heralded as a software powerhouse, he did not have a single programme on his computer that was made by an Indian company.

Fair enough. I used to ask myself the same questions. After spending most of the past two years in India, I see a lot of hope. Here is why:

  1. I visit several engineering and management institutes to give talks on Technology Trends, Entrepreneurship and I find a lot of students eager to start and looking for  guidance.
  2. Indian government is doing a lot with Innovation Fund. They give grants and are hard at work in setting up Incubation Centers. One of my recent talks involved Incubation 2.0.
  3. Informal startup communities are gaining traction. These include Chennai Open Coffee Club with over 1500 participants and similar coffee clubs in Bangalore, Pune and other places.
  4. The silos of professional societies like TiE local chapters, Nasscome Emerge Community and the informal startup communities are slowly inter-connecting.
  5. We are still a long way from producing a Google or Microsoft. But the product culture seems to be improving –  an encouraging sign.
  6. A band of us evangelize product innovation, point to social media as a lowering the entry barrier into global entrepreneurship and working to provide as much support as we can.
  7. Zoho is a beacon. I hope to see more companies following their lead.

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A 787 Dreamliner Virtual Postcard

You have received a 787 Dreamliner Virtual Postcard from Dorai Thodla, celebrating the historic first flight of this game changing airplane. You can access your postcard here:

Experience the 787 Dreamliner’s Historic First Flight here:

If the link for the postcard did not work, copy the following url and paste it into your browser. –

If the link to the 787 Dreamliner’s Historic First Flight web page did not work, copy the following url and paste it into your browser. –

Thanks to Sriram for the link on Facebook

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Event Log: Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week, December 6-12, 2009, recognizes that computing:

  • Touches everyone’s daily lives and plays a critical role in society
  • Drives innovation and economic growth
  • Provides rewarding job opportunities
  • Prepares students with the knowledge and skills they need for the 21st century

You can follow the event and find more resources at @csedweek

If there is one thing you and I can do to help, it would be to entertain, inform and educate using technology.

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Linklog: A Vision of Computing and The Future of Interaction

A vision of computing and the future of interaction:

Sometime next year the Xbox team will announce this new type of camera which allows you to sit on that sofa along with up to three of your friends, or stand and move around, and have the Xbox system calculate in real time the angular position of the 22 major joints in your body,"

"I think of 'The Cloud' as taking the publishing abilities of the Internet and adding programmability to it," he said. "And so these high scale things — coupled with these new devices, which are smarter, perhaps more anticipatory in how they interact with you — this will create a new computing platform which will allow us to attack a new range of problems that in the past have really eluded us."

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