Sunday, 3 November 2013

Job dimensions

Jobs can be divided in to three key activities:

  • Manipulating relationships (with the archetypal people person being most focused on this activity)
  • Manipulating information (with the archetypal knowledge worker being most focused on this activity)
  • Manipulating the physical world (with the archetypal labourer being most focused on this activity)
On top of these three activities is another dimension: creativity. It is possible to be creative, or not, in each of the three activities. An inventor would be a creative manipulator of the knowledge space; the con artist a creative manipulator of the relationship space; and the dancer a creative manipulator of the physical space.

An expert is typically someone with a lot of knowledge about one (or more) of the key domains. This may or may not be accompanied by creativity.

A leader is typically a manipulator of the relationship space, but often accompanied by skill in manipulating information.

Email message tracking

One of the unfortunate facts of modern life is that people don't always respond to emails on a timely basis. To address this feature of our modern interaction requires sending a chaser email. But more challenging (at least for me) is remembering to send that chaser email. The following functionality added to an email client would go some way to addressing this issue:

When a message is sent, the sender is prompted with a "Track / Don't track" option via a simple UI pop-up. Alternatively this could be a tick-box on the compose UI (however people may forget to tick it), or a prompt only for a pre-defined list of contacts (regular late-response offenders), or a prompt if the destination email address has been tracked before, or a prompt only if the email contains particular wording (e.g. making a request) (semantic analysis required).

A UI screen would be required to view all messages currently being tracked (and history).

When the user receives a response to a tracked message, they prompted to remove from tracking list (e.g. if the required information has been provided).

A possible extension of this functionality would be an option to track an action for each recipient.

Why not use Outlook task functionality? It's too formal and too demanding (it creates the task at the destination end, not the sender end). Plus its Microsoft...

A simple three-point manifesto for a better political system

  • Don't make promises you cannot keep
  • Complete transparency on all domestic matters
  • As much transparency as possible on foreign matters, provided such transparency does not compromise foreign standing

Before and after vactrain

With Elon Musk's Hyperloop in the news, the vactrain concept has been closer to the fore of my mind. One angle I think it would be interesting to explore would be whether it would be possible and efficient to create a temporary partial vaccum in front of each train.

Such a design would require fans, in separate tubes, spaced along the length of the tube holding the train. As the train approaches, the fans would be used to reduce the air pressure in front of the train, by pumping the air behind the train.

The mechanism could potentially be used to power the train, as the pressure of the air behind the train would push it forward, particularly if there was relatively little air gap between the train and the tunnel wall.

Would it work?

Reply-to CC

Often I'm CC'd into emails not because the email that's being send needs to be read by me, but because the requested reply to that email needs to be read by me. What's needed is an additional field for "Reply-to CC". Any email addresses listed in this field would not receive the initial email, but would (by default) be copied on replies to it.