“P2 is the evolution of the blog for the purpose of working within and across teams.”
Writing ability is crucial, and distributed work only amplifies its importance.
A related thought from “Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools”:
Writing is too important because, though forms and structures will differ, writing is the path to power for those born without power. This importance lies not in how to write a “five‐paragraph essay” or a “compare and contrast” book review but in the capability to clearly communicate visions both personal and collaborative. Whether the work is a tweet that generates action when that is needed, or a text message to an employer, or the ability to convince others in the political realm, or the expression of one’s identity in a form that evokes empathy in those without similar experience, “communicating” “well” is a social leveler of supreme importance.
In both cases, methodology become less important than process. Our students read on paper, or through audio books, or through text‐to‐speech, or by watching video, or by seeing theater – or by observing their world. They write with pens, keyboards large and small, touchscreens, or by dictating to their phones or computers, or by recording audio, or by making videos, or by writing plays or creating art, or playing music. We do not limit the work by attacking those with disabilities or even inabilities – or even other preferences, because that robs children of both important influences and of theira individual voices. Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.
Thus we begin by moving the teaching of writing from the training of a specific skill set toward an interpersonal art form that flows from students and builds communities. Then, through the reimagining of teaching places into “learning spaces,” we craft “studios” where all the technologies of school – time, space, tools, pedagogies – liberate and inspire rather than deliver and test. Then, using those recrafted technologies, we allow communication learning to flow.
Distributed work amplifies the importance of writing and is at its best when it provides tools and culture for making that writing an accessible equalizer supportive of neurological pluralism.
Written communication is the great social equalizer.
Remember this if you start to fear your Autistic child is spending too much time interacting with others online and not enough time interacting with others face-to-face. Online communication is a valid accommodation for the social disability that comes with being Autistic. We need online interaction and this meta-study demonstrates exactly why that is the case.
I couldn’t help wondering, since the study showed the durability of first impressions and the positive response to the written words of Autistics, with all visual and auditory cues removed, could we mitigate childhood bullying in any way by having a class of students meet first online, in text, and form their first impressions of one another in that format before ever meeting face-to-face?
Getting online was revolutionary and may have saved my life.
The difference between offline and online communication could not have been more dramatic.
The distributed model can be a boon to folks who have difficulty working in an office, but ultimately it’s up to the people who create and design work environments — distributed or co-located — to recognize that there isn’t a normal employee or a normal mode of work. There are no abnormal employees with abnormal needs. Companies should reject this false dichotomy and acknowledge that every employee is different, and that some might also experience several forms of difference and marginalization at once. Everyone, however, is likely to be happier and more productive when they have choices, agency, and a way to express their individual needs.
To be successful at a company like Automattic, you have to be able to communicate effectively via text
Distributed work, the future of work for many, runs on written communication. Fortunately for me, written communication is a great social equalizer, enabling me to participate and contribute.
First, and make no mistake here, all three sacred learning spaces will have analogs in cyberspace. If they don’t, then cyberspace will cease to exist as a domain of interaction among humans. Those using the new media will create their own analogs for these learning places, even if they are not designed into the system.
This was written in the late 90s when the web was young. It presages the three speeds of collaboration of distributed work.
I feel that the ability to spin up and then successfully operate remote engineering locations is a skill that technology companies need to develop earlier in their development than used to be the case.
For organizations, the single biggest difference between remote and physical teams is the greater dependence on writing to establish the permanence and portability of organizational culture, norms and habits. Writing is different than speaking because it forces concision, deliberation, and structure, and this impacts how politics plays out in remote teams.
Writing changes the politics of meetings. Every Friday, Zapier employees send out a bulletin with: (1) things I said I’d do this week and their results, (2) other issues that came up, (3) things I’m doing next week. Everyone spends the first 10 minutes of the meeting in silence reading everyone’s updates.
Remote teams practice this context setting out of necessity, but it also provides positive auxiliary benefits of “hearing” from everyone around the table, and not letting meetings default to the loudest or most senior in the room. This practice can be adopted by companies with physical workplaces as well (in fact, Zapier CEO Wade Foster borrowed this from Amazon), but it takes discipline and leadership to change behavior, particularly when it is much easier for everyone to just show up like they’re used to.
Writing changes the politics of information sharing and transparency. At Basecamp, there are no all-hands or town hall meetings. All updates, decisions, and subsequent discussions are posted publicly to the entire company. For companies, this is pretty bold. It’s like having a Facebook wall with all your friends chiming in on your questionable decisions of the distant past that you can’t erase. But the beauty is that there is now a body of written decisions and discussions that serves as a rich and permanent artifact of institutional knowledge, accessible to anyone in the company. Documenting major decisions in writing depoliticizes access to information.
I updated “Communication is oxygen. Build a districtwide collaboration infrastructure and an open by default culture.” with selections from “Channeling the inevitable: Slack and the future of work | The Official Slack Blog”.
By their very nature, channels increase transparency — and I like to say that with a big asterisk, because transparency is often defined, in the business context, as bosses and leaders being more forthcoming. In this case, we literally define transparency as the opposite of opacity: People can actually see what’s going on in different departments and working groups in a way they couldn’t with email, because emails are addressed to individuals, or mainly received individually.
Take the process of closing a deal as an example. It’s incredibly complex and involves a lot of participants, from sales to legal to engineering. When I wanted an update on how work with Oracle was coming along, which is one of our biggest accounts, I didn’t have to ask anyone. I just went into the dedicated #accounts-oracle channel and I could see everything that’s been happening.
Channels have opened my eyes to the importance of alignment and clarity for people. Now someone in engineering who may not be involved with the account on a daily basis, but might be working on a feature that’s blocking a customer deployment, can go into a channel and get context behind requests and understand the potential impact of their actions. They’re not just getting a message into their inbox, dropped from the top.
The nature of an organization is that it produces a lot of information. Depending on the organization’s size, the volume of information can increase by orders of magnitude — from 10 to 100 to 100,000 times more. But you don’t have to read all of it. It’s not being pumped into an inbox. With Slack, you have choice. There are channels you can elect to join or view as you see fit. We give people tools, like notification settings and comprehensive controls, so they manage what they need to see.