The Future of the REAL World

So the topic for today was how to use current web services to improve the way that we communicate in real space. We have all these tools to help us to send e-mail, to chat online, and store files on websites, but we haven’t used the same principles to build our real-life workspaces. In large part, we can use the same criteria to build a highly interactive physical workspace that we did for the workspaces online, like

1) storage of information: right now on the web you see vast repositories of data. people can storing things like images, applications, and movie clips in databases to be accessed by members of project teams. What this does is creat a library that is accessible 24 hours a day, in any place that a user might be. the analog equivalent of that could be a workspace that constantly documents the progress of a project, by taking pictures at constant intervals, or allowing the project team to easily take notes and post updates on the project.

2) Team member interaction: another thing that the web does very well is allow people to communicate easily with each other. Currently the standard methods are things like email and instant messenging. The real-life equivalent of this can be workspaces where these tools are built into the environment, by using large plasma displays or audible cues that draw users’ attention to them.

3) information resource: the phrase “googling” has become ubiquitous these days, referring to the way that millions of people every day use the search engine Google for finding information that they need. For one to do so in real spaces you must create a similar knowledge base, like the Internet, or have all of the movers and shakers of the community in one place, so they can be asked questions by members of the community. Apple has done a similar thing with the genius bar at their retail stores. there you have people who are paid to sit and answer questions specifically about Apple products. When you extend that to the entire realm of knowledge, obviously no set of people is going to know all the answers. But if you can create a place where whoever is involved in the creation of things wants to come to work, then all you have to do is find a way to query that knowledge base. This can be done in various ways, including things like holding contests with prizes for the person who answers a question in the best way.

obviously this is just scratching the surface, but it is interesting to think that these principles are universal. many other groups are working on these sorts of workspaces, especially here at Stanford.

Stanford IWORK Lab