Archive: March, 2010

Using Social Media Boosts Productivity

When I’ve got a particularly difficult problem and I’m trying to figure out my options or puzzling over which option is the best, nurse the answer rarely comes while I’m straining to get it right. The answers come through diversions or performing menial tasks. Sometimes the best way to figure things out is by communicating with someone else about it; that’s where using social media comes in.

My job is inherently creative. While most of the people in my department have prescribed tasks that they do over and over again using the same prescribed tools, I am often asked to do things that no one has ever done at our company before. This kind of work requires access to as many research tools as possible. In the February 2002 issue of Wired, Brendan I. Koerner wrote an article called How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive. While I agree that Facebook is probably not very productive, I argue that Twitter is one of the best resources I have for innovative ideas. I have a network of creative contacts who will respond within minutes to requests for ideas. Some workers might waste time, but creative, passionate workers will use these tools to get their job done.

Twitter is also an outlet. Sometimes I just want to let someone know what I’m thinking, feeling, or doing. Instead of bothering my coworkers while they are working away, Twitter is an easy way to take a quick step back and summarize what I’m currently doing. If I’m not getting much done, I don’t have much to say. One reward for hard work is being able to post something meaningful to Twitter. It might seem silly, but it is true for me.

Knowledge workers should be trusted to get the job done. Don’t worry if they seem like they’re spending a lot of time away from what is strictly called work. Typing faster doesn’t make me more productive. Having more ideas makes me more productive, and using social media helps spark my creativity.

Quick File Sharing for Linux and Mac OS X

This is a great little trick to quickly make a directory of files accessible to anyone. You can do it in any OS that has Python installed, which most Linux distros and Mac OS X do. Windows does not have python installed by default, but the same thing should work from there if python is installed.

First, open the terminal and navigate to the directory you want to share. While in that directory type the following command:

python -c "import SimpleHTTPServer;SimpleHTTPServer.test()"

This will start a web server on port 8000. This is a very simple and quick way to share a file over the network. Just send a link to the IP address of the machine.

If you are behind a NAT router or firewall, port 8000 needs to be forwarded or opened, but if you are on the same network all you need to do is send them a link to http://<your_ip_address>:8000 and they can easily browse the directory you ran the command from and download any file there. When you’re finished, go back to the terminal and use Ctrl+C to end the process.