Technological Grail Quest and some reviews too.

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This article is inspired by another article I read on Web Worker Daily.

Ambient Video Awareness…Big Idea? Or Big Brother?
I am very interested in the presence aware technologies. The concept is very exciting for those of us that would prefer to maintain our home presence. Operating out of our homes, we might be disconnected from the work space, sometimes because we prefer it that way. I can only speak for myself, but although I do not mind working with a team, I prefer to work from my own location. However there is something to be said about having contact with the team. The technology that brings that capability to users who do work from their home offices provide an adequate solution to the contact issue. Using video presence technologies the team is able to work remotely together. I have read that the teleworker misses opportunities that are available to office workers. This is unfortunate, as many teleworkers are far more productive than their office co-workers. Many executives state that they prefer the face time with their employees. I can't say much to that because I am an independent freelancer, but I guess there is something to be said for this. However it has been my experience that often these same executives are the ones that couldn't even remember your name, never mind waste their time to talk with you about anything other than deadlines, or reprimand you for your mistakes. I have worked with really decent managers before who tried to take an interest in your work and in their charges, however my experience has been that those same managers tend to leave the workplace faster than the ones that ignore the work, and only marshal the top executives policies. Having had experience in both situations I can honestly say that telework (freelance) is far better. I still work about the same amount of hours, often even more. I still keep the same office hours, because often I must contact some member of the team I am working with, and they are often office workers so they keep regular office hours. The idea that I could contact them and remain in contact with them and all the members of the team through presence technologies is very important to me. It would solve the one issue that lingers in telework, contact with the team.

Using such technologies as shared white boards, instant messaging, and other presence technologies I have been able to effect some of this presence, but a video contact would enhance the contact presence. If more technology can provide good services such as this I feel we see more people moving to telework, as well as more companies moving in the same direction. How much better is it if a company could have fewer employees hanging around the office, talking about the recent episode of the Office, or whatever. Now they can IM each other about such items of non-productive matters, and about project issues at the same time. With video and audio presence there will be that much more enhancement of the team feel.

Myself I can't actually say I would really care, as I work fairly independently of the team. I have had to work closely with a team, but I like my freelance status, and although I can see this type of awareness being useful, it also doesn't change my work. Many teams I have worked with in the office setting spend more time discussing politics or other non-productive issues than completing work. The reason I get work is because the companies have a team of developers who are not finishing the job. I come in and complete the work in half the time they have already spent on the project, often having to start back over because the team will not work with me. I don't really care because I am working for the company, and often when the team is made3 to work with me they are resentful, so they are counter-productive to the project. This is not always true, but it is unfortunately true for many projects I have accepted. I get my payment when the job is completed, so I work to complete the work and move on. They get paid by the week, it doesn't make much since to them to end the project fast. I enjoy my free time, and since I work for myself, I get more of it. All these factors and more make the freelance life the one I prefer. Do I miss the office, the benefits, the corporate setting, very little. With the building of telework centers, this is being changed as well as cyber cafe's turn into telework centers where freelancers gather to work on their projects and socialize. I have never been a social creature, so this is not a problem, but I glad to see that others are having their needs met by these types of services and technologies. Now if they could only open the network so I could get better speed and finish my work that much quicker. Thanks for listening, I will have more on the technological aspects of video, and other presence aware technologies as I investigate this further. For a good introduction into the possibility of presence awareness and pervasive computing see the CSAIL site at MIT. Also a google search will bring up a few million sites on presence technologies.

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