I was hoping to post this a while back, but a lot has been happening at work the last couple of weeks with a minor reorg and a move up of our planning cycle. While this has taken some time, I think it makes more sense to plan now than in January. With vacation schedules, it is difficult to finish up much work of a collaborative effort (which is virtually all of mine) in December. Planning is a better use of that time.
I met a lot of interesting people at CSCW, even without being a blog stalker. For me, at least, it would be far too weird to do that. Conversely, I ended up adding several people who were there to my aggregator, even though I hadn't met them. Luckily, I was able to meet Liz Lawley in a more natural fashion. We were hanging in the back corner, looking for juice to power our backchannel contributions. I asked Liz if she was Mamamusings, having no idea that her backchannel ID was her personal blog too. I told her that I knew her from her Many2Many contributions. She said that she hadn't posted there in a while, and that she really should post something there about the parallel worlds she was noticing. We then chatted about a lot of the things that ended up in this excellent post on the academic/technical divide.
It really was like being in an alternate universe some times. The general blogging cluelessness among cooperative work researchers was amazing to me -- maybe twelve or so attendees had blogs (that Jack was able to uncover). I've been trying to follow up with some attendees and their faculty advisors about the possibility of working together on future research, but I haven't had any luck so far. You'd think that studying how collaborative tools are used in a large corporation, barriers to their use, testing of new tools and concepts on corporate users, etc. would be ripe grounds for study. Hopefully, something will work out.
This highlights what may be another dimension to this divide: what happens in the corporate world often seems far removed from the academic and the technical. Universities often respond to corporate inquiries with a hand out. Could we at least have an intelligent conversation about possibilities before we worry about finances? We aren't cash machines, nor are we looking to take advantage of you. We would like to find something that was mutually beneficial.
On the other side, a colleague of mine (from Engineering, not Architecture) went to the O'Reilly Emerging Tech conference a couple of years back and returned shaking his head about some of what he saw and experienced. Many of the folks there seemed out of touch with corporate reality to him. Certainly, this condition isn't universal, but the perception is there. In a large corporate environment, identifying and implementing new technologies that drive real business benefit is a lot more difficult and complicated than you might think.
I'm attending a conference with a perhaps more corporate take on emerging technology this week: Forrester's Emerging Technology Showcase. I went to this two years ago, when it was a Giga conference (before the Forrester takeover). That was a great conference. I'm viewing this one as a last chance for Forrester. The usefulness of their research has really plummeted for me over the last year or so. We'll see if this is still a high value conference, or if the downward spiral continues. Will Forrester bridge the gap?