Category: Culture

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.

Arizona Oddities

I wish that I had had a camera on me when we were driving around the other night. We drove past a McDonalds that had a small marquee attached to their sign out front that advertised a special: 2 bags of ice for just $1.29. I wondered aloud why McDonalds would sell bags of ice let alone advertise it as a special of some sort. Alex, who was driving, said that Arizonans really like ice. I thought he was just joking. I still thought it was weird.

Tonight at dinner Alex made some green Kool Aid. When I poured some into my ice-filled plastic tumbler and tasted it I think I made a face. It was so sweet I couldn’t drink it. Cassie said that Alex’s family always made it that way and let the ice melting in your glass water it down to the right concentration. Then she said that Arizonans really love ice! I guess Alex wasn’t joking after all.

The only rule you may be told is this one

Today I was privileged to play my first game of Mao, a card game that one must play in order to learn. You see, the rules of the game are never discussed out loud. There is no talking while playing, and the rules aren’t written down anywhere. Game-play becomes increasingly complex as the game progresses. Attention to detail and memorization are both key skills for the game. I only had a chance to play four hands, but was a lot of fun. I hear that it is popular among hackers. Perhaps I can find a group of Linux enthusiasts that also play Mao. It is a tiring game because a great deal of mental exertion is necessary to play well.

You can try to find rules online, and they are not easy to find, but they are not going to help much as the rules vary from group to group. Besides, reading the rules online ruins the spirit of the game. Ask around and see if you can find someone who will play who might already know the rules. If you do, you are in for a lot of fun!