[sociate] Office competency, then and now

  • From: "Jerry Michalski" <jerry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sociate News" <sociate@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2006 23:32:45 -0800

Turn the clock back two or three decades -- three to be safe -- and consider
what technologies the average office worker had to master. From today's
perspective, 1976 was pretty simple. You had to wrangle:

*       Dialing through a  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PBX> PBX (9 for an
outside line, 8 for long distance?) 

*       A  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selectric> typewriter or dedicated
word processor. Maybe. Remember
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Laboratories> Wang? 

*       A calculator. On occasion. (My  <http://www.hpmuseum.org/hp12c.htm>
HP-12C still works with its original batteries) 

*       A
photocopier. Now and then. Too early for fax. 

Today? Yeesh! Here's a start:

*        <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellphone> Cellphones (voice dialing?
camphone? carrier? roaming? Web? apps?) 

*       Office phones (still that pesky internal dialing) 

*       Voicemail systems for each phone (with different command structures)

*        <http://www.blackberry.net/> BlackBerry (with its own email app and

*        <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_windows> Microsoft Windows
or  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macos> Mac OS 

*       The  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Office> Office suite:
Word, Excel, PowerPoint (oy, PowerPoint!), Outlook 

*        <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antivirus> Antivirus and
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backup_software> backup apps; avoiding
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_horse_%28computing%29> Trojans and
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing> phishing 

*        <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_printer> Printers (toner!) and
corporate  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VPN> networks 

*        <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wifi> WiFi snargling so you find and
keep a connection 

*       IDs and passwords for everything;
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password> password management 

*       IM ( <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sametime> SameTime,
<http://www.aim.com/> AIM, Yahoo,  <http://www.icq.com/> ICQ,
<http://www.google.com/talk/> Google Talk) 

*       The browser(s) ( <http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/> IE,
<http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/> Firefox,  <http://www.opera.com/>
Opera,  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safari_(web_browser)> Safari) and
their lingo 

*        <http://www.google.com/> Google searches 

*       Web-based email ( <http://www.hotmail.com/> Hotmail,
<https://gmail.google.com/> GMail) 

*       Other Web apps ( <http://www.basecamphq.com/> Basecamp,
<http://en.wikipedia.com/> Wikipedia,  <http://finance.yahoo.com/> Yahoo
Finance,  <http://www.salesforce.com/> Salesforce.com) 

*       Possibly  <http://www.skype.com/> Skype or some SIP or VoIP apps 

*       And  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itunes> iTunes isn't really a
business app, but really...

Daunting, no? 

That's before learning about  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog> blogging,
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki> wikis,  <http://www.flickr.com/> Flickr,
<http://del.icio.us/> del.icio.us,
erprise.html> tagging,  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast> podcasts,
screencasts,  <http://youtube.com/> YouTube,  <http://www.myspace.com/>
MySpace and  <http://secondlife.com/> Second Life, never mind
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commons-Based_Peer_Production> peer production
mies.html> folksonomies. 

So I have a lot of empathy for people in business these days, who are
expected to perform 120 percent of 1976's duties with 30 percent of the
support staff. In the 90s,  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_Jack>
Neutron Jack led the way to skinnying out all those extraneous people and
making sure nobody has enough time to really think anymore.

I expect the current wave of innovation will take another ten to 15 years to
shake out. At that point, many things that are mystifying today (e.g., why
are mailing lists and discussion forums separate pieces of software? why are
we still typing in contact info from business cards?) will disappear. And
with luck, we'll have figured out how to talk to one another well by then. 

posted by Jerry at
7789> 7:37 PM

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