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Randell Rivadeneira

Assignment 15

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found the article as whole very interested. In my current job there is some practice of “hot desking”, where some individuals of the company are given laptops so that they can do work from home and any place in the company. I also know of some other departments where work from home is done for 4 days a week and on the fifth day they come to the office. I am not sure how efficient this is, but I do get to hear the troubles that some people have when working from home (just like the diary at the beginning of the paper). I believe that the paper is efficient in explaining this issues and the important lag that social groups have with respect to technology. Yet the author is clear that we are not completely in fault, and we should not be responsible to catch up with technology. The suggestion that better designs are the answer I find it a bit shortcoming, I do believe that we should do some catch up and better utilize the tools currently available.

I also found it very interesting when the paper discussed and compared the home office and the work office. The example of Chiat/Day company was very useful to exemplify the issues and needs of a social environment where one works.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

I found it very interesting, although I would like more examples like the Chiat/Day scenario.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

We can not expect technology to transform our working environment into a home office. Having all the facilities to work from home does not necessarily mean that we should. Working environments provide many other tools not accounted for, like people acting as resources for one another.

Also, although technology evolves in a rapid form, it does not mean that we should play catch up. Instead we should better model technology so that we can use it for our advantages.

3. what does the following quote mean to you: "design needs to attend not simply to the frailty of technological systems and the robustness of social systems, but to ways in which social systems often play a key part in making even frail technology robust"

It means that designs should not focus in solving the weaknesses of technological systems, or improving social systems. But it should address the cases where social systems help technological systems to improve. A good example was that of Xerox, where the social system of the company made it easy for everyone to use a copier. When in reality the copier was faulty and the social system was making it easier to use.

3.1. why are social systems robust?

I believe that social systems are robust because they are composed of individuals with varying knowledge and skills. Hence to in order to tackle any problem, you have a system with a great variety of vies, knowledge, skills, understanding and personalities such that you will not lack in resources.

3.2. why are technological system frail?

Several reasons come to mind. First, because they require a lot of time to set them up. Second, because they do not work for everything that we would like them to work for. Then, they might have the tools that we want, but we can not or do not know how to use them. They are limited by the main purpose that they were created for and hence you always want them to do something outside of the domain. Also, they are some times to complex to be understood by a single person.

4. think of a couple of persons (maybe family members or friends) who are in a position to use computer by being "home alone"! Characterize the major problems that these persons have!

I do not know of any one who works completely from home. I do know of some people that work some time at home (Psychologist and Podiatrist), but they have an “office” at home. In general, some of the problems of being at home would be the problems of access to information that is not digital: some medical records or any other information that is maintained still in paper (like an office schedule). There is also the problem of not being able to communicate directly to office mates, or even a direct communication with managers, HR and other people found in the company space.

I also think that one of the biggest problems would be the use of other office resources. Such photocopiers, laboratories, specialize computer systems and heavy duty machinery are difficult to replicate in a “home alone” environment.

5. Describe briefly some new innovative technologies that you can think of which would address these problems!

Blue technology would allow some use of systems from home or the implementation of systems over the Internet (such as printer networks). There are also some more sophisticated technologies that could allow the direct communication among co-workers, like netmeeting and more communications tools. And to an extreme extend, I know of some developments on robotics that could allow for Doctors to be present in an operation room miles away.

6. in case of problems with computer systems how often to you look for help/advice

6.1. from humans?


6.2. from written documentation?


6.3. from online resources?


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