Recently I had a conversation with friends regarding the benefits of open source. Some references had been made to Paul Graham's talk at Oscon in 2005, so I was keen to find and read this essay.
Very inspiring and truly reflects the reality.
Just want to make some comments on one particular topic on which Paul Graham elaborates so knowingly... This is about Workplaces - those places where most of us spent a great deal of our lives.
As I can see, Graham's points are:
- The average office is a miserable place to get work done;
- The most demoralising aspect of the traditional facetime model is that you're supposed to be at work at certain times;
- People at the office are prevented from having fun;
- Open sourse and blogging show us what real work looks like;
- Working in crappy informal spaces is better than at office;
- Separation of work and life is one of the key tenets of professionalism.
Of course this is just a bit of exaggeration and the one should bear in mind that this talk had a purpose and been addressed to a certain auditorium. Anyway, without arguing in principle, I want to challenge the author's view on demoralising aspect of the facetime model.
Yeah, who wants to wake up every morning ang go robotlikely to that place the very look of which might send you into the deepest desperation... It looks so great and promising per Graham: wake up any time you like, enjoy your long leisury breakfast, spend hours pondering over some great thoughts and then, being led by sudden breathtaking inspiration, make a discovery of your lifetime which changes the world overnight...
As it turns rather often, many of us would easily get stuck on the leisure-pondering stage without further realisation into something sensible (readable, visible, eatable whatever). So, the boredome of the dull days at the office will be replaced by the boredom of sitting-in-crappy-informal-space(vivat Graham)thinking-doing-nothing... I'm not against informality. I'm for having in mind that some people lack self-discipline, and opensource model might be a threat to their ability to self-control and self-motivate without bad guy from managerial pushing your back from time to time(or kicking your bum - just what is necessary to keep things moving).
And why we cannot have fun at the office? Ofcourse, you might not be able to laugh girls/boys aloud in front of your boss every now and then, but it's almost unbeleivable that the one cannot find time to share a fresh joke with a collegue or surf the Net to find some funny stuff and send to friends. I do not mention extra facilities and staff gatherings which indeed might bring life and fun into everydays office routine. Look, guys, sometimes I'm alone in the office laughing so much over some funny stuff from Inet or telephone conversation with a friend, that my stomach churns. Am I Crazy?
Finally, I found it very funny that Graham suggested to arrange for the Work Day at office, when employees would be prevented from communication and forced to work eight hours flat. Nowadays, nobody can interrupt communication process (unless, ofcourse, the lines are cut and each employee been continuosly supervised face-to-face by invigilator). Probably, the Work Day will be a real fun and sort of a competition for Who Cheats the Boss Better...
I like freedom and sometimes (very often, in fact) I hate office chores. But I don't agree that profeccionalism and realisation depend on where people work. These qualities depend on many other factors, including the one's ability to keep life and work together and have a true joy in "both" of them.