The Way we (will) Work

On ABC-TV’s Difference of Opinion: The Way We Work, there is an excellent view on the world of modern “work”.  The world of work has changed from a mere 5 years ago, let alone 10 or 15 years.

IM (instant messaging), blogs, RSS feeds, live calendars etc all dramatically change the immediacy of information and access to people. Thankfully, I have yet to get a corporate mobile phone and my desk phone number isn’t widely known outside the internal phonelist. Email, blogging and RSS are my main outputs/inputs.

This week has been an interesting week “at work.” Being locked in a room, laptops off, being ‘inducted’ into Microsoft after some 4 weeks in the organisation. I am constantly inspired by my new work collegues, my boss; there is no shortage of information and toys to play with. So, it sorta seems induction is a little late for me. Anyway, it’s required so into a room for 3 days.

There has been an interesting reaction of people I know to my new employer. Many are happy I am doing what I love: technology and customers. Some question “what is your title again, and what exactly are you doing?” Other, more Mac-a-philes are surprised and ask a few more questions. My analysis is that Microsoft people are just like normal people: friendly, helpful but smarter than the average bear.  Explaining your title as “professional geek” gets smiles and starts a conversation.

So, stuck in a laptops-off meeting, you have to do more “second shift” work to keep up with the RSS feeds (to know what your boss is doing) and emails.  Feeling guilty about not keeping up drives to bad on-the-lap work behaviour. Filtering, sorting, deleting, replying. Blogging.

If you think this all sounds very “web 2.0 social networking blognorati” – guess what? This is how your kids are learning and collaborating now. IM, email, Powerpoints, short bursty just-in-time learning. Watch and ask ’em. I bet their “production” application is not Excel or Outlook. It’s Messenger.

Uncle Mike warned me about keeping my email load down. In an attempt to be subversive, I retain this goal. Also breaking the rule about blogging when tired. Yep, doing that too. Hence the rambling.

The inner Munge Brother comes alive!

Uncle Mike: Munge Brother Pioneers

I had completely forgotten about the Munge History of video production.

In the early 1990s, when Adobe Premiere was a new thing, and Quicktime overshadowed anything Microsoft had until at least 1995 – we created this video.

Starring Uncle Mike, Uncle Paul, Uncle Peter (Peter Harris) and myself – the DOSBOX (original Munge Car) and Mike’s passion for windsurfing intersected my passion for the Newton PDA. We created this little advertisment as an advertisement for Random Access Consulting; or the Munge Brothers.

Mike Seyfang Logs Off

Chairman Bill and CEO Steve have lost a valuable member of staff in Uncle Mike. I have a distinct feeling that product teams in Seattle will miss him more, if history tells us anything. Nearly 9 years at Microsoft is an achievement in these high velocity career times.

Times like these trigger throughts and feelings requiring articulation:

  • According to Beth Worrall, Mike’s turn of phrase and gift of alliteration hasn’t left him. “process is the colostomy bag of innovation” illustrates both his off-centre (slightly black) but stark and illustrative phrase making skills. The Munge Brothers is distinctly an Uncle Mike term, borrowed by mungenet. These phrases have the ability to perfectly describe a situation and circumstance that defies alternate characterisation. Naming your clapped-out, 1970’s era and rusted surf-boarding carrier Holden station wagon DOSBOX replete with the personalised number plates sums up his sly sense of humour.
  • Ad-hocery, or the lack of over-formalism and a fear of too-much process and methodology is an anathema to Mike. Throwing “stuff” together to solve a difficult problem is one of his strengths. “End user computing” and putting power into the hands of end users was his mantra before he joined the small band at Random Access. Strict methodologists, or god-forbid, those how invent methodologies and Mike probably wouldn’t get along that well. Watch out if you are in IT and don’t have a deep passion for IT.
  • Over ten years ago as a consultant, Mike’s phrase “a laptop and a mobile phone” clearly foretold of today. One can work and be in touch virtually anywhere, and with a laptop be productive. There was a famous piece of video made by the Munge Brothers that captures this Fellini-like mood.
  • A clear vision of what is important and what works. Some of the original “turning data into information” work the Munge Brothers presented in 1991/2 and ad-hoc data retrieval metamorphed into data-warehousing. This is an industry technology that I use daily in my current, non-highly-technical management job. I have no idea how I could do my job without this level of information.
  • A love of art: be it music, video or still; that is off-kilter. It is difficult to describe the imagery I’ve seen; and I think that Mike’s blog has a splattering of these images. Sadly, it seems that its genetic as his son is now playing guitar at school.
  • Friendship and loyalty that spans many careers. Uncle Mike was my referee for the job that lifted me from Adelaidian obscurity to Apple incubus. His loyalty to his family in the midst of a turbulent work environment is legendary – and he strike a harmony that is unmatchable. I’ve personally only seen this in one other person in my worklife; his name is also Michael.

Where next for the Fang? We might find him in the recording studio as the micro-music media mogul of Adelaide or a gadget heavy jackaroo in outback Australia. The further away he gets from this increasingly fractured IT industry the better. For those of us stuck on the inside, we are deadly envious.