This is not a post about children. I was feeling plucky when I wrote this post at the end of last year. Sometimes when I feel plucky I'm inspired to create awesome blog post titles and ideas. Other times, this happens.
2011 Is Here!
I was born in 1963. As I child I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon while Walter Cronkite narrated. At 11, I was fortunate enough to live next door to an engineer who taught me Motorola 6800 machine code and then BASIC. I have a long memory, although not nearly fast enough and somewhat spotty (I can remember every phone I've ever memorized since first memorizing Granny Mayhew's phone number at age 5, but I cannot remember to whom they all belong, for example). So I remember the visions of the future painted by science fiction I consumed in my teenaged years.
As time has passed and the future unfolded, I find the visions of many authors and film-makers to be off some. This is not a criticism. With few exceptions, Hollywood produces a narrow set of future variations (this is a criticism). I like Star Trek a lot, but Star Wars may be closer to our future reality. Nirvanic social orders were common in 1960's and 1970's sci-fi, but Blade Runner and Brazil may more accurately preview the coming years.
Ask anyone who's been around technology for the past 36 years or so, and they'll tell you the changes are somewhat cyclical. I say "somewhat" because technology regularly presents us with game-changing socially-impacting life-altering stuff. This year, for example, I compared the emergence of Twitter to a tectonic shift.
Looking ahead it's easy to make some predictions for 2011 and the 20teens:
Mobile technology will continue to grow and pervade our existence.
Working remotely will increase - especially in technology development and administration.
"Cloud" techologies will facilitate both of these trends, and trends-to-come.
Remember those who were skeptical about whether mobile computing would catch on? Me either. There were all sorts of risks involved, if I recall correctly. Security was at the top of the list. Guess what? Though security risks will always be with us, a couple of interesting things have happened:
We've figured out ways to use technology to better secure our stuff; and
We're using more security-aware business practices.
Security breaches have placed an emphasis on security - an equal and opposite reaction, as it were. 100% secure is simply not achievable, but the days of easy cracks are diminishing as I type. As a result, more people can...
The last time entering an office was a required part of my daily work habits was 2006. May those days rest in peace. I still find the Old Guard vigorously defending the old order. In some cases, working in an office is justified. In a subset of those cases, it's beneficial. In most cases, it's as useful as requiring women to wear dresses and skirts and men to wear ties to work. In other words, it's not useful at all.
Working remotely is not without its challenges. Most who work in offices relish the thought of working from home, not realizing the evil dark side: you now live at work. Discipline is required and is much cheaper than a divorce. You also need to know the most important feature of a home office is not a high-speed connection or fancy-schmancy devices; it's the door.
Many companies are experiencing success with Results-Only Work Environments (ROWEs). Dan Pink wrote about ROWEs in Drive, which is an awesome book every manager (or interested employee) should read. ROWEs are, in short, only concerned with results. They ditch the idea of office hours and strip performance-based management to a single metric:
Does the work get done?
I love ROWEs! I will be blogging more about them in 2011 as I continue my series on managing teams.
I like the term "cloud". I like it better than "the ether" because clouds are harmless and fluffy and ether will knock you out. I see the cloud, working remotely, and pervasive mobile technology feeding off each other in a positive spiral. As mobile technology increases and becomes safer, more people will be able to experience the joys of ROWEs and working remotely, which will drive the demand for more cloud technology, which will increase the pervasiveness of mobile technology...
Cycles pervade technology, history, and especially the history of technology. Some cycles are easy to see from the 36-year perspective, and that's one benefit of growing up alongside technology.
No laments for flying cars here. I get in enough trouble driving my old pickup. I'm excited about 2011!