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Rizwan Ansary

Assignment 15

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

I appreciate the fact that after reading this article, I have started seeing how working from home might actually be a good idea. I was previously not much in favor of this concept. This has resulted after reading the description of the experimental office setup by Chiat/Day which is quite alluring for me compared with the office environments that I have worked in so far.

1.2. not interesting about the article?


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

The model that works best for the evolution of technology is that it should evolve keeping in view the strengths and weaknesses of its users rather than the users adapting to every new technology. There is certainly a balance between the two approaches that works best for humans and they also must adapt to the technologies to a certain extent.

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"

3.1. why are social systems robust?

In order to answer that question, we must ask ourselves; Robust for whom? Obviously, for humans who themselves are the basic unit of any social system. Hence, they can adapt, share knowledge, pool resources, basically do anything to make things work, if they want to. This is why the social system as a whole is robust and I agree with the authors about this.

3.2. why are technological system frail?

I would not completely agree with this assertion since a technological system is designed for a certain user population and specific tasks. They are a means to an end. They are "tools" and not the "solution" and hence should be used as such. Expecting these systems to be perfect for things that they are not an expert in, is similar to asking a social system to accomplish things that it is not fit to do e.g. asking the students of CSCI 2270 to appreciate collaboration in their coursework as much as we do in our class is not appropriate since they have their own constraints (syllabus format, size of class, etc.).

I believe the above argument holds for most of the systems but I agree that there are certain systems that either do not fit their stated specifications or lack a good design. Those really are the weak systems.

3.3. or do you disagree with the authors about his?

Answered above.

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!

My reluctance to accept the idea of "hot-desking" stems from my experience with a previous company where my manager was either mostly out of town or working from home. In the initial stages of the project I required a lot of guidance in terms of understanding the requirements. I remember writing long arduous emails and sometimes the repsonses did not do justice. Sometimes he would not completely understand what I was trying to say over email and other times the opposite was true. Discusions on some technical issues require explaining on whiteboards which was absent in our case.

Also, if I were to work from home I think I would be frequently slipping deadlines as I do not feel motivated enough. I would also feel cut out from my office community and would definitely hate to miss out on office gossip some of which goes a long way in dealing effectively with certain people.

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

Net-meeting and remote desktop sharing did the trick (to some extent) for the whiteboard problem I mentioned above. High-speed internet with integrated voice/video/data communication channels would also help.

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?

I would say it is equally divided among all three methods. Further, since most written documentation these days is online so the last two are compressed into one category. My pattern is to prefer humans more than documentation for administration related matters and the reverse is true for programming related matters.

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