Re: SOC: Urban Sprawl

Date: Sat Jun 10 2000 - 08:52:57 MDT

In a message dated 6/4/00 10:59:29 AM Central Daylight Time,

> Greg writes:
> > <> Telecommuting. < snip >
> The company I work for is in the Silicon Valley, and traffic has really
> become awful there. < snip >
> Partially as a result, telecommuting is becoming very popular at
> the office. Out of about 15 engineers in our division, only four or
> five come in regularly. The rest are very willing to do without the
> socialization opportunities in order to enjoy the pleasures of working
> at home. It also seems that the office is all too often a source of
> stress, rumors and pressure in the fast-changing business environment.
> More and more people are opting out of office politics by staying home
> where they can get some work done.
> The real limits on telecommuting are management concerns about oversight
> and productivity rather than employees' desires to socialize, IMO.
> But as traffic and other problems become more severe, pressure from
> the workers to allow telecommuting will continue to increase. I don't
> think it will actually alleviate the problems of congestion, but it
> might reduce how quickly it gets worse.

It seems to me that there are definite positives and negatives to the social
aspects of working in groups in an "office". Yes "office politics" can be a
source of "stress, rumors and pressure", but we can't ignore the fact that
our brains evolved over tens of millions of years as part of a system of
primate social organization.

I know that in my work an open-ended "brainstorming" session with a team of
people is an essential part of the creative process. Admittedly, what I do
for a living is inherently "social", but I've recently become fairly deeply
involved in the development of a suite of software applications - watch this
space! - and I see the benefits of monkey group-think in that endeavor almost
as much as I do in the process of developing and implementing an approach to
a lawsuit or the structuring and documentation of a business deal.

The challenge for architects of a more humane and livable urban environment
is to build spaces and infrastructure to encourage good, productive primate
socializing, while minimizing the social and environmental costs of

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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