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Re: [XP] Collocation.

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  • Adam Sroka
    ... Two things. First, in the type of workspace that we (XP teams) prefer there is a lot going on and a lot of information that can be picked up in the
    Message 1 of 151 , Jan 2, 2009
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      On Thu, Jan 1, 2009 at 9:56 PM, Owen Thomas <owen.paul.thomas@...> wrote:
      > Hi Adam.
      >
      > If I'm not mistaken, you were contributing to the discussion I was
      > having elsewhere. Thanks for taking up the conversation here.
      >
      > I believe point 1 can be overcome by a suitably configured VOIP system.

      Two things. First, in the type of workspace that we (XP teams) prefer
      there is a lot going on and a lot of information that can be picked up
      in the background. More, even than in a typical office scenario.
      Because, everyone is in the same room in close proximity and everyone
      is working in pairs. So, you get very direct and timely information
      from the pair you are working with, but you also pick up on things
      that other pairs are discussing. In order for a VOIP system to
      approximate this you would need to be able to listen to everyone
      simultaneously and adjust the volumes individually so that you could
      hear your pair's channel most clearly. This seems infeasible.

      Second, even if you could create the appropriate "conference call"
      setup that doesn't necessarily mean that people will communicate in
      the same way. Being on the phone is very different from talking to a
      person in the same room. It feels different, and people act
      accordingly.

      > Points 2 and 4 likewise have a solution. In fact, the idea that I have
      > may provide a simultaneous solution to these three points. Message me
      > privately if you want to know more.
      >
      > Point 3 is a question of the exercise of discipline, and so is not the
      > exclusive preserve of the software development industry.
      >

      I don't agree that it "is a question of the exercise of discipline."
      One of the reasons people go to an office to work is that it gives
      them an environment that is conducive to doing their work. This
      includes the elimination of outside distractions, the appropriate
      tools and facilities, and proximity to coworkers.

      > As for psychological advantages, several that can be realised by working
      > where you live are that you have more opportunity to interact with your
      > family and friends, and greater choice as to the type of environment to
      > dwell in. I think there are clear advantages to the environment itself.
      >

      If I spend more time "interacting with family and friends" I am not in
      fact working. Thus, my point about focus. If I want more time with
      family and friends that time should be outside the time that I am
      working.

      Having an environment that is both comfortable to live in and
      conducive to work sounds expensive. In my case, at the very least, I
      would need a totally separate room. In this part of town that would
      cost me about $500 a month. That's before I consider equipment and
      furnishings. Maybe I can find a clever way to lower my tax burden or
      even to get my employer to pay for a portion of that, but there is
      still going to be a significant out-of-pocket expense (My employer
      isn't going to front the whole cost of me moving out of a shared
      two-bedroom into my own two-bedroom or a shared three-bedroom house.)
    • Adrian Howard
      On 5 Jan 2009, at 09:45, Adam Sroka wrote: [snip] ... [snip] Just to comment on the terms... and with the disclaimer that I ve not been keeping close track of
      Message 151 of 151 , Jan 9, 2009
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        On 5 Jan 2009, at 09:45, Adam Sroka wrote:
        [snip]
        > BTW, "Collaborative Work" is a much *much* more useful term that
        > "Virtual Collocation". Collaborate denotes people doing things
        > together. Collocate denotes placing things together as in
        > side-by-side. Thus "Virtual Collocation" is not useful, except insofar
        > as it makes it sound like you've come up with something new. Which you
        > *still* haven't demonstrated.
        [snip]

        Just to comment on the terms... and with the disclaimer that I've not
        been keeping close track of CSCW terms/research since the nineties, so
        things may be different now :-)

        Collaborative Work is the more general term. Virtual Collocation is,
        as I understand it, the more specific term used in the field when folk
        are talking about technologies and techniques that aim to reproduce
        (to a greater or lesser extent) the sense of "being in the same place"
        - verses others methods of supporting collaborative work.

        The "radical collocation" term is used in the CSCW world to refer to
        environments like XP's prototypical team room - a collocated space
        with everybody working on the same project. As opposed to other co-
        located environments (e.g. a cube farm).

        There was a workshop at CWCW 2008 looking at some of this stuff last
        year if folk are interested. Don't know if the results are written up
        anywhere.

        http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dhncd3jd_343cmcr7mcm

        There are some great references in there for the _next_ time this
        discussion starts up :-)

        I'll pick one paragraph from the workshop description:

        "It doesn't take much distance before a team feels the negative
        effects of distribution - the effectiveness of collaboration degrades
        rapidly with physical distance. People located closer in a building
        are more likely to collaborate (Kraut, Egido & Galegher 1990). Even at
        short distances, 3 feet vs. 20 feet, there is an effect (Sensenig &
        Reed 1972). A distance of 100 feet may be no better than several miles
        (Allen 1977). A field study of radically collocated software
        development teams, i.e. where the teammates share a large open-plan
        room, showed significantly higher productivity and satisfaction than
        industry benchmarks and past projects within the firm (Teasley et al.,
        2002). Another field study compared interruptions in paired,
        radically-collocated and traditional, cube-dwelling software
        development teams, and found that in the former interruptions were
        greater in number but shorter in duration and more on-task (Chong and
        Siino 2006). Close proximity improves productivity in all cases."

        Cheers,

        Adrian
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