Coming attractions

Been working much overtime at the moment, but here’s what I’ll be posting on as the year goes by…

I’ve always had an eclectic range of interests. I’m trained and have worked as a mechanical engineer, but also have an MBA and read widely in many fields. Lately, I’ve been consulting with the Matthew Ridgway Center for International Security Studies on tracking nuclear weapons smuggling.

So, some things I’ve been into in the past year:

1.) Mathematics. I’ve gone deeper into algebra, geometry and calculus. I’ve touched on abstract algebra and topology. I’ve even done some reading in chaos theory.

2.) Complexity theory – this applies across a wide range of disciplines such as social networks and physics. It may be applicable to terrorist networks.

3.) The future of work – outsourcing, of course, but also globalization, economics, and telecommuting.

4.) the future, period. Bob Kaplan’s gated communities, Richard Florida’s creative class and Great Reset.

5.) Economics and the stock market – are we really in a recovery or just still sliding into Great Depression 2?

6.) Terrorists and nuclear smuggling – as part of my gig at Pitt.

7.) How do many of the above subjects tie into the future of Pittsburgh (which is where I live)? How does the concept of city states apply, and is it a viable model for the future for the region?

These are all subjects I hope to keep exploring, and I hope to write more about them here on my blog.

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Thoughts on the Future of Work

Lately I’ve been following Penelope Trunk’s thoughts on the future of work, as well as Richard Florida’s thoughts on the future of cities  (See also All About Cities, an excellent blog on…cities!).  Add to that Jamais Cascio’s thoughts on the Metaverse, and it’s a lot of food for thought.

 

Here are Penelope’s predictions:

 

1.) The end of gender disparity
2.)
The end of the stay-at-home parent
3.)
The end of the grind
4.)
The end of “work friends”
5.)
The end of office life
6.)
The end of consulting
7.)
The end of hierarchy
 

I’m not so sure.  Coming as I do from Pittsburgh, a conservative town, most of this stuff is FAR from reality.  Even with Gen Y coming in to the workplace, very little has changed.  And most of the X’ers I know just adapt – indeed, are co-opted – into the conservative culture.  Five days in the cube, with extra hours when necessary.  No special perks or cool offices.  And everyone goes home at the end of the day and work and home are completely separate arenas, as far as friends, anyway.  Believe me, hierarchy is alive and well here.  Perhaps that’s part of the reason we have outmigration.

Perhaps in tech firms it’s different, but as far as I can see in the engineering industry and the banking industry nothing has changed here.

 

When it comes to parenting and work, most households I know have both parents working full time jobs.  A few, like mine, have one parent working while the other stays home.  We pay the price in that we can’t afford some of the things that others can – for example, we’re still in an apartment although we’re saving for a house.  It also leads to friction since the stay at home parent feels like they work more than a full time job and can’t understand why the wage-earning parent wants to relax in the evening since they don’t get a chance to relax.

 

I want to explore this more in the coming days.  Telecommuting is rare here (as a regular practice, anyway) since most employers are conservative Boomer types.  Gil Schwartz wrote an article in Men’s Health Best Life magazine where he demolishes the idea of telecommuting.  He questions why he would want an employee that doesn’t want to be in the office.  It’s a bit tongue in cheek, and totally opposed to Penelope and Ryan/Ryan’s Gen Y thoughts, but it rings true to me, at least here in Pittsburgh.

 

What are your thoughts?  Do you see a shift to more telecommuting?  Do you see a blending of work life and home life?  Are your friends at work and your friends at home the same or separate?  Is your organization flat or pretty hierarchical?  Let me know in the comments!

Scott