Thursday, 5 April 2007

Chronovampirism and Social Collaboration

As regular readers will know, I may spend much of my time as a lone traveller in Secondlife, seeking out the as-yet undisclosed or undiscovered, but I also enjoy the social networking side of my second life. I've banged on about networks and collaboration on many occasions in this blog, but I've been thinking recently about the "dark side of collaboration", including the underworld of time vampires: "chronovampirism". [ I've checked Google - and it looks like I've coined myself a new term ]

The Daddy of social interaction, the “gold standard”, is face-to-face (f2f) contact. As this has always been part of the human experience, I have chosen not to look at the “time vampires” who can consume so much of one’s waking/working hours in f2f meandering chatter. Besides, most of us would probably confess to sucking other people’s time on occasion – I know I do.

I am more concerned about the plethora of new-fangled (ie: anything invented after about 1850!) mechanisms that now clamour for my time. I am far from being the most “connected” person in the World, yet here is a list of the electro-social tools I use during the course of an average day (some are professional, some personal):

  • company email
  • company IM
  • Skype IM (work address)
  • Skype IM (home address)
  • Client site email
  • Twitter
  • personal email x 2
  • Mobile/cellphone talk
  • Mobile/cellphone SMS text
  • Fixed line telephone
  • Teleconferences
  • Video-conferences (fortunately relatively rare)
  • Second Life chat
  • Second Life IM

To this I would add “push” social tools I contribute to:

  • My company personal blog
  • Slambling blog (that you are reading now)
  • 3pointd blog
  • plus comments on postings on many, many other blogs.

And just to add a little more spice to this heady mix, much of this is glued together by my Google Homepage, that keeps me informed when there’s something that might need my attention, or that might pique my interest.

Each of these tools on its own is innocuous enough. But taken en masse they represent a major onslaught on my time - the flipside of the upbeat, can-do message of “networks & collaboration”.

OK... much of this is self-inflicted, and to be fair I can (and do) take steps to remedy the situation when it looks like it is getting out of hand. I just find it interesting that I have slipped by small increments ("a blog here... an IM service there... I can handle it") to a position where such collaborative tools now consume a large part of my everyday activity. It makes for a longer but more satisfying "working day" - but I do wonder where my breaking point might be: "Go on... subscribe to just one more blog aggregator. And one more virtual world won't do any harm, will it?"

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