Saturday, August 29, 2009

More on that SXSWi panel

Vote for my PanelPicker idea!
As you recall, I've put together a South by Southwest Interactive panel on What Coworking Tells Us About the Future of Work. We've solidified the panel at this point, so here's what we're going to cover:

Clay Spinuzzi: I have been developing deep knowledge in how people collaborate day to day, especially in how they use innovations and technologies and how they organize their work in looser work relationships. I've written a couple of books on the topic (see the right bar of this blog). So I'll bring
  • Detailed case studies of loose work organization, especially in Austin
  • Comparisons of what motivates coworkers and coworking proprietors at different spaces in Austin
  • Connections between these loose org trends and Austin's local economy
Drew Jones: Drew is a trained anthropologist and consultant who has been studying how work is changing as Gen Y takes over the workforce. He's involved in a consuntancy, Shift101, and a related coworking space, Shift Workspace. Drew literally (co)wrote the book on coworking and another on innovation. He'll bring
  • A broad idea of work trends and generational trends across the country
  • Deep experience in mentoring the broader coworking community and specifically coworking in his space
  • Background on innovation
Gary Swart: Gary Swart is CEO of oDesk Corporation ( oDesk facilitates connecting, maintaining, and building trust among online workteams. Gary will talk about the practical challenges of "loosely coupled, highly aligned teams working remotely, including our own use case of 70+ remote resources working directly for oDesk from around the world." He'll bring
  • A broad international idea of how to connect workers in loose, sometimes ad hoc organizations
  • International trends
  • Trust and accountability building among people who haven't met face to face
  • Strong, scalable, successful solutions for connecting people
  • Case studies illustrating the above
  • A CEO's perspective
Needless to say, I'm very excited about how the panel is taking shape. Please do click through and give us a thumbs up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Have you ever noticed how many, many people are writing and just how much writing there is in the world?"

At the NCTE Inbox blog, Millie Davis lists several pieces of quotidian writing that she has noticed: satellite information for farmers, testimonials for service providers, billboards, texting, etc. And she concludes, "Writing is a significant part of our lives—not just English-teacher lives but the lives of repair people, babysitters, kindergarten artists, pet-sitters, lawyers, bloggers, farmers, hospitality workers, truckers, travelers, advertisers, nurses, trades workers, and more." She says she has noticed these much more lately, since she has been thinking about the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)-proposed National Day on Writing.

Yes: writing developed out of a quirky Sumerian accounting system to keep tributes straight, not to express great truths or arguments. And in a highly literate society it saturates every corner of our lives, from our workplaces to our streets to our bodies. Writing is everywhere, often rough, opportunistic, localized, pragmatic, and unrelated to the idealized formal genres that are valorized by so much of our formal schooling.

A writing teacher's discovery of quotidian writing is like a fish's discovery of water.

That's part of what makes the idea of a National Day on Writing so odd and unappealing to me: it's like having a national day on personal hygiene, or clothing, or walking. Writing is one of our most important skills, but it's also too generalized and far-reaching a skill, with too many untaught applications, to be defined by a professional teachers' group. Especially one whose members are surprised to discover that we are surrounded by texts.