Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  smarter_planet smart_healthcare healthcare web_2.0 social_media research science 3 Comments 2,361 Visits
I'll admit, in spite of working for IBM, and being exposed to many Smarter Planet ideas, messages, and examples, there are times I struggle to "get it". And then sometimes a light pops on in my mind... This time it was inspired by FlashForward, a tv show... yes, a tv show.
A little background here... I'm a Lost nut. I've watched it religiously since epi 1. In fact, I now feel compelled to check out anything springing from the creative loins of JJ Abrams. So yes, I went to see Star Trek this summer. And thus, I'm now a Fringe nut too (if you liked X-Files once upon a time, give it a try.) When I saw previews for FlashForward, I wasn't dazzled or intrigued. But I watched and lo and behold I'm now hooked despite the totally bizarre premise - that a "global event" occurs where everyone goes unconscious and has a vision of the future for 2 minutes and 17 seconds - they refer to it as a flash forward.
So, ummm... what does FlashForward the tv show have to do with IT and Smarter Planet?
Naturally, the FBI rushes in to investigate and they build a web site called Mosaic to allow anyone in the world to voluntarily describe what they saw during their individual "flash forward". Millions of people respond and now with everyone entering their experiences into Mosaic, the data is now searchable and available to create a big picture view of the event around the world. As a side note, ABC has actually created a fictional Mosaic web site to help promote the show...
I didn't consider the Mosaic web site concept until several episodes in, where it struck me that this REALLY is the future, and is an amazing, if fictional, example of Web 2.0 (or is it Web 3.0, I'm never sure where that line is crossed) and how IT can create a smarter planet. Crowd-sourcing, collective wisdom, whatever you call it... It's real people coming together, voluntarily sharing information in a single repository, for a united purpose.
I have a friend with a chronic disease that is complicated and in desperate need of years of scientific research to even begin to understand - the story of many diseases and not enough research dollars to go around. It inspired me to think, what if you could set up a web site like Mosaic where everyone with that disease went in and entered info like their symptoms, related diseases, what treatments they've tried, what worked, what didn't, etc. They could update it over a period of years with their ongoing information. You could have a running giant database of info, instead of a tiny selected scientific study group.
The way this COULD change science, research, and medicine is incredible if you could combine researchers + technology + willing participants.
The way research is done today is very controlled, and of course you'd have to give up some of that control. It would require you to trust people to tell the truth - but why wouldn't they if they have a disease and want to find a cure? And then there is the issue of who owns the data (is it a university, a pharmaceutical company, a government?). But what if instead of controlling this data, it was open - like an open source health project? If you could get past pre-conceived establishment notions of medical research you could have data on a million people over 10 years,instead of a hundred people over 3 months! Wouldn't that completely change the game?
Does anyone know of real-life examples of Mosaic-like projects going on out there?
For the past few years, I've been thinking of myself as a "knowledge worker" in the "knowledge economy". All workers have their blessings and their discontents whether in the agricultural or industrial age or now - the knowledge economy. I'm glad that I get to use my mind, while I'm also sometimes grumpy about sitting at a computer while my hands and brain do all the work. (Btw, I think someone needs to invent a way of working with computers that involves a variety of movements - some fusion of ideas behind Nintendo wii and work that people do on computers, so that instead of it being natural to sit still while we work, it feels more natural and it's more possible, to move.)
But recently it struck me that I'm not so much a "knowledge worker" as I am a "creativity worker". What I do everyday isn't so much about what I know - it's about what I do with what I know - and what I don't know and finding the answers. What questions do I have? What ideas do I have? What instincts? What problems? What could be done better? What experiments might I try? And then talking with fellow "creativity workers" to get the idea soup boiling before we decide on something new to try. Then we go off and try it and analyze, measure, and revise along the way, over and over.
To be a successful creativity worker I must do things well, on time, and as committed. This is all fine and good, but it's not good enough if I don't come up with new things to do and new ways to do old things. So creativity is one of my greatest assets. But I often find myself jammed up with tasks and trivia - lines and lines of email, hours of meetings, at the end of which my brain is mush and my creativity drained.
My greatest challenge is to protect, nurture and harness my creativity. How? It's still a struggle and I'm learning, but these are my ideas:
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  java doors unix rational developerworks telelogic argentina interview student 8 Comments 5,204 Visits
I don't get to travel as much as I want to, so I enjoy the opportunity to meet someone from another part of the world and see what life's like in their corner of the globe. This week my interview with Andres Hojman gives a glimpse into the life of this infrastructure analyst, java and Web 2.0 enthusiast and student from Cordoba, Argentina.
Learn more about Andres in the interview below and visit his profile on My developerWorks to ask him to be your colleague.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you're currently working on?
My name is Andres Javier Hojman, I'm 23 years old, I live in Cordoba city, which is located in Argentina , I'm studying Systems Engineering at "Universidad Tecnologica Nacional". On the professional side of my life, I'm spending my days working as an "Infrastructure Analyst", at the software center that EDS (an HP company ;-) has in my city (about 850 employees working here).
How did you get started in the IT industry?
Since we have several big globally-known IT companies (Intel, Motorola, EDS, Indra, Globant, IBM, etc.. ) locating their software centers or service offices in our city, it's been quite easy to quickly find a position to start my career due to the day-by-day increasing need to fill different positions. I took my first career steps when I decided to join Motorola as a " Software Engineer ". After that, I had the opportunity to jump to my current employer; so I can say that I'm focused on my career growing and improvement in the IT field.
What's a typical day like for you working on UNIX Security administration?
Our "routine" consists mainly of delivering "Access Management" services, meaning that we take requests for access or permissions (creating or modifying existing user accounts), on different servers or systems, based on several platforms (Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Linux or Windows) ,from our customer's users (..my team work scope is the US EAST coast, meaning that most of the requesters are located there). I think that the best part of my job, is the chance to do my work following a "objective based" routine, meaning that I can control how many things I have to do daily and the way I do them, allowing me to use my time freely when I'm at the office. Also, I have the chance to do some "work@home" time, saving me traffic delays on the freeway road to the office, and I can attend university classes when I need to.
What kind of IBM Telelogic DOORS projects have you worked on?
When I was at Motorola, I was part of a team that supported and managed DOORS along with its databases and servers, and also a feature of it called RMSE . The company used DOORS to keep control of every requisite document (functional or non-functional) that they had for every product project located on America or EMEA regions. I was in charge of the user management side, and we performed several test case phase activities, making sure it was functioning properly, before any version release or change could be applied on the running DOORS environment.
How do you use developerWorks?
Actually, I'm using the site like a tool to be in touch with another Java developers, or people with the same interests that I have. Besides that, I really enjoy joining groups or participating in different forums, in order to learn more about different technologies or ways to work, because I have the upcoming idea to start being a freelancer at some point of my career. I guess that this site can help me on that.
What publications / websites do you read / visit?
I like to visit any kind of technological web pages or blogs(.. speaking of programming languages, X-Box 360 games, social media, design, freelance, etc..) , also I like to be aware of upcoming releases of products, or read their reviews before buying them.
I consider myself a " web 2.0 enthusiast "; since I like any kind of web page that can make my browsing experience more complete. Most of my entire bookmark collection is tagged online on delicious.com; and a few interesting tagged web pages I'd to share are the ones under these four categories:
How are you using social networking today?
I'm handling social networking in three main ways..
First of all, I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, family, ex classmates, coworkers, or just to know new people from my city.
Second, I like to use LinkedIn to be connected with my company colleagues, or just to make business contacts for the future.
And three, I'm using these days a new tool called Popego.com, which is like a " social portal " that takes your likes and dislikes around different web pages or web services, and it automatically builds site recommendations based on the information you've dropped.
Also, I enjoy GrooveShark.com to listen to music on-demand while I'm online, and also I can recommend songs or play list to my friends, as well as learn about new artists.
What gadget, which you currently own, can you not live without?
I think I can not be without my cell phone (..like everybody I guess :-P), and it's getting more addictive, since they are coming out with new features every day (..GPS, Wi-Fi connection, great graphics engines for games, music player..)
What future technology would make your life easier?
I guess that the idea of "technological integration" will be the next step ahead to develop, meaning, smarter devices which will allow you to interact freely with another tech devices around your house or office, simplifying your daily routine, and keeping you focused on what's important, saving time to carry a lot of things with you, and avoiding to miss important appointments.
I'm also thinking about the growth of the Wireless protocols or services (WiMAX for example), that will allow you to be connected from any place.
I don't want to leave out the "Cloud Computing" idea, which is becoming more famous (..and efficient) every day.
In your spare time, what hobbies or activities interest you?
Actually, I'm currently defining my academic objectives (reach my MCSA certification and finish my grade and CCNA studies as well), so, that's keeping me busy. And of course, I like to spend my free time surrounded by friends (going to parties, playing video games or poker matches - it's incredible the money you can win from your friends :-P -, and also, I really enjoy going to the cinema, listening to punk rock music, swimming, the gym, etc.
- Thanks Andres!