Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting

DISPLAY CONSULTING

 

From Another Planet…

It was a late fall day in Washington DC.  I was taking a taxi back to my hotel.  It had been a productive but tiring day.  It was definitely time for some quiet time and peaceful contemplation.  Dusk was beginning to settle in as we slowly bumped our way along in the rush hour traffic.  I began to observe the rows upon rows of windows through which I could now see the typical desks and cubicles where people spent their working days.  Most were empty by now.  The overhead fluorescent lights illuminating these abandoned workspaces, still piled high with various documents, created a stark and lonely scene.

I felt disconnected from this scene – like a visitor from another planet.   What if I really were a visitor from another planet trying to understand how these developing human beings live and why they have chosen certain ways to interact with each other.  I think I would be puzzled for sure.

Why do these strange creatures spend so much time transporting themselves from where they sleep to where they do some kind of activity that consists mostly of sitting by themselves in a small cloth-padded area for most of the day?  And then near the end of the day they reverse this process by transporting themselves back to their sleeping locations – where they also appear to have at least one of two meals each day.  They typically sleep in a location with what appears to be a family unit based on biological offspring.  But why don’t they just do their daytime activities in that same location?  Their interaction with other humans is so infrequent that these activities could easily be carried out with only an occasional personal contact.  So why do they follow this peculiar routine?  Don’t they realize that with the communication tools and computer knowledge that they already have in their possession location independence is theirs for the taking?

Could it be that on this planet earth, this strange place called Washington DC is an anomaly?  There seem to be many other peculiar behaviors in this town – some that don’t fit any known concepts of logical reasoning.   Perhaps such a peculiar situation is only found in this center of government activity.  But alas a visit to every other major city ends up confirming this same time-consuming behavior – whether Tokyo, London, or New York.  Humans appear to rush around in the early part of the day to find their daytime roosting locations and then rush back to their nighttime roosts near the end of the day to eat and sleep.  And then they do it over and over and over again – day after day after day.  How terribly inefficient. 

Isn’t it obvious to all these people that much more of what is apparently considered useful activity could be accomplished without this change of location? 

Indeed, if our alien visitor were to take a more careful look, she would find that there is already a growing trend toward this more productive behavior.  While the larger and more tradition-bound organizations continue to do their activities as they have for many decades, a new breed of entrepreneurs is evolving and making use of recently developed communication and computer tools that eliminate the need to have separate locations for daytime and nighttime activities.  For these more advanced beings, constant physical proximity to other humans is no longer a necessity.  It is only for those activities that utilize specialized equipment or facilities (e.g. product manufacturing) or that cannot be accomplished without the actual presence of the human (e.g. getting a haircut) that a change of physical location is still a requirement.

This new behavioral trend is in its infancy but will accelerate as the tools for remote interactions continue to improve.  Real time video with multiple displays at each work location will make two-way interactions even more efficient.  Group meetings can and will take place from multiple locations with readily accessible high-quality video becoming routine and essentially free to every user.  The days of single displays at each workstation are numbered.  We will need and use multiple displays to facilitate these remote interactions.  Constant e-mail communication between workers in different offices (even on the same floor of the same building) has already become the accepted norm.  There is little reason not to extend this to locations a bit further apart – perhaps several time zones apart. 

We are in a period of interesting and rapid change.  Constant connectivity is being “built-in” to the next generation of young humans currently in grade school and high school.  As these students mature and enter the work force they will see no logical reason to have to change locations just to “go to work”.  The technology is evolving rapidly to make this transition nearly effortless.  Thus, we are in for some exciting work-life changes over the next few decades. 

If you would like to offer your thoughts on this topic or others – from wherever your remote location may be, you can reach me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.