Activity centric computing
Activity centric computing is central to IBM’s personal knowledge management and collaboration vision and this paper lays out some of the underlying concepts that we will hopefully see start to emerge in the Hannover release. The following snippet from the paper lays out the challenge IBM is trying to address:
The “big picture” is the activity. But working through to completion of the activity involves people in many kinds of interactions and the use of many different file types, communication modes and outputs such as emails, instant messages, phone calls, presentations, spreadsheets, documents, meetings. These don’t interoperate, and their outputs live in different containers and locations. Some of the outputs are in forms that might be posted to a team workspace if one has been created; some are never shared effectively.
People try to get organized, but it isn’t easy. There are folders for email, folders for documents, folders for photos, folders for videos, No folders for instant messages, etc. Whether working on individual or team projects, participants must remember and mentally hold in context the many related outputs and exchanges that advance the work. That is, the humans must provide the adhesive that glues the whole project together.
The paper sums up with this vision:
“Right now, the ‘glue’ that associates tasks and objects within an activity remains in the users’ heads. But if we’re able to create and save the thread of an activity, we should also be able to preserve it as a pattern that others can reuse when performing the same or similar activities. In effect, people will be writing their own programs for executing business processes at the same time as they execute the processes. It’s going to make capturing best practices a lot easier for organizations, and it has the potential to change the way organizations think about programming.”
having taken a good look at Office 2007 and in particular Groove and Outlook I don’t think Microsoft will have anything approaching the sophistication of this concept for a while, so it will be interesting to see if IBM pull it off and start winning over the hearts and minds of their users, in the same way they have with system admins and IT managers.