Have you noticed how often we talk about the possible threat to our jobs as a result of robots and artificial intelligence? Most of this dialogue is often expressed in the context of disruption, and especially digital disruption. We have heard some notable pundits suggest that we may perhaps be sleepwalking into a future where there will simply not be enough meaningful work for all. But no-one can be entirely right about the outlook. We still struggle to understand the past and present, so anything we get right about the future is a bonus. Personally I tend to lean towards the view that jobs will be more or less centred around the ‘imagination’ industry, which will feed more of our higher end needs, as opposed to the business of ‘food and shelter’. In any event the future will be how we craft it. I speculate it will have to be collaboratively. This week’s selection of recommended reading may stir up some contemplative faculties in those inclined to think about tomorrow. Enjoy.

Sincere thanks to those who have suggested articles for this edition of Roadmender Recommends.


How avatars affect virtual collaboration

There have been a few studies on this issue, with one highlighting the important role our avatars play in channeling our behavior. “You exert more of your agency through an avatar when you design it yourself,” said S. Shyam Sundar, professor of communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State, who worked with University of Michigan doctoral student Sangseok You. “Your identity mixes in with the identity of that avatar and, as a result, your visual perception of the virtual environment is colored by the physical resources of your avatar.”..READ ON


Why reputation is key to collaboration

The notion is that we generally cooperate more with those we trust, and therefore signalling the trustworthiness of an individual is crucially important to the wellbeing of the platform. A recent study has set out to explore the extent to which trust and reputation underpins the kind of cooperation we see inside our organizations. The researchers conducted a number of experiments to test how our knowledge of someones reputation and their social network influences how we cooperate with them. In traditional contexts, our knowledge of other peoples reputations tends to be limited to those people we have strong relationships with…READ ON


On Collaboration: Thinking Beyond the Tools

As the industry’s pundits converge at Enterprise Connect 2015 to talk about what’s next for UC&C, the big thinkers at Harvard Business Review published a set of related articles, “On Collaboration.” After reading the collection and reflecting on what businesspeople think of collaboration, it reinforces that technology advances are tertiary to people and process when it comes to what business decision makers think. Has our industry taken a self-centered view?…READ ON


Celebrating Collaboration During Global Partnerships Week

Global Partnerships Week Panel Discussion

Global Partnerships Week Panel Discussion

At the U.S. Department of State, we are always looking for ways to engage the private sector and non-governmental organizations. We believe that 1+1=3, and that by leveraging the relative strengths of each sector, we can increase our impact and achieve more together than we could alone…READ ON


The difference between social learning and social collaboration

social collaborationIn my framework of Modern Workplace Learning (see diagram on right) I use the term social collaboration to label an important new element of work of the modern-day L&D department. I deliberately chose not to label it social learning. So what is the difference – or rather connection – between these two terms?…READ ON


Why Resilience Is the Key Ingredient for Successful Entrepreneurship

secrets-to-resilianceTo be an entrepreneur requires a special combination of boldness and humility. It’s a beautiful thing to say that you are going to build something that the world needs, but that, you believe, none of the billions of people who have gone before you or live beside you now has ever seen or achieved…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


Sidewalk Flowers: An Illustrated Ode to Presence and the Everyday Art of Noticing in a Culture of Productivity and Distraction

sidewalkflowers“How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard wrote in her magnificent defense of living with presence. But in our age of productivity, we spend our days running away from boredom, never mind its creative and spiritual benefits, and toward maximum efficiency. Under the tyranny of multitasking, the unitasking necessary for the art of noticing has been…READ ON



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