Archive for August, 2006

Taylorization of knowledge work

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

I found an article via George Siemens: Tool-and-Die Makers in a Knowledge Economy.

What is keeping us back from going from the industrial product line-centered organization to a post-industrial knowledge intensive organization:

“In today’s organizations, those [Tool-and-Die Makers] displaying the most skill and insight with new tools for knowledge work focus on improving their personal productivity. There is no organizational role or payoff for making fellow knowledge workers more productive and effective.”

It’s true that organizations don’t approach knowledge working tools with the same vigor as they approached the production line. Software tools are often deployed to improve the personal productivity of individuals, not the organization as a whole. In cases where tools are deployed organization-wide, the requirements of a knowledge worker and how their performance actually builds up through other people is often forgotten.

The author goes on to apply Taylor’s scientific management principles inside the organization by their own employees for their own colleagues. I’m not sure if this is the right way to go, as taylorization of knowledge work is not probably working in the knowledge intensive era. The most important component to knowledge work is not repetition but learning. Taylor’s (or the author’s) approach doesn’t answer the question of how the individuals will learn more effectively to outperform their competition. Crafting knowledge effectively is not only about available tools but available people. Over-optimizing hand movements on a knowledge production line will just annoy the knowledge worker. The role of networks is forgotten here.

Pizzria (beta): a web 2.0 kebab/pizzeria menu maker

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Teemu Leinonen posted a while ago about cheap ideas and how to come up with them.

I had another cheap idea while eating at a cheap pizzeria looking at… you know, the generic red/yellow menu that every pizzeria has here in Finland. The design looks like it has come out of mass-production line of some cheap ad agency… or /dev/null.

So here is my cheap idea, feel free to steal it but send me a pizza if you make any profit:

Short title:
Pizzria (beta) – Web 2.0 Kebab/Pizza Menu Maker

A website for generating your own Fastfood/Pizzeria/Kebab menu. Define your content quickly with a powerful AJAX -driven interface. Use checkboxes to select various categories: kebab, falafel, steak, pizza, salad, pasta etc…  use intelligent random generator to generate meals if you feel unimaginative. Check for “cheap clipart”, “awful backgrounds”, “home delivery” and “bonus cupongs” to give your menu a finishing twist. Generate menu as PDF or Postscript ready for print. Full Web 2.0 XML-RPC API support for third-party application integration. Setting up a restaurant website generator? Use our API together with Google Maps to create a powerful mashup.

Social software patented

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Not long after the news about Blackboard being granted a patent on LMS (Learning Management System) and turning against their own community in a situation where a lot of prior art exists, Microsoft is this time around to patent Social Software with their own army of spinmasters. Here is part of the abstract:

“…a unique system and method that facilitates self-regulation of a social network system based at least in part on user behavior, and in particular on good or desirable user behavior. The system and method involve monitoring user behavior such as user activity and user interactions with other users and the network itself. … By watching user behavior and promoting good behavior in this manner, the social network can be managed and self-regulated to optimize the utilization and distribution of both limited and unlimited assets (e.g., network created and user created assets or resources).”

Sounds a lot like social software to me… Based on the past performance, it’s obvious that the process for checking prior art at USPTO is flawed. I’m not surprised if this application goes through. I would propose that the fee for every patent application is doubled and the other half is dedicated as a reward for anyone who proves that prior art exist to invalidate the patent application in question.