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My Last Week of Virtual Work

I’ve settled into more of a routine this week. With the exception of Monday morning (when my parents do their work), I spent most of my time at the Mt. Shasta office. I was up very early for 7am (10am ET) meetings most days so I usually finish up around 3 or 4pm. If/when I transition to full time virtual work on the west coast, that will likely be my regular schedule.

I’ve been taking all meetings on my iPhone, rather than using landlines, to avoid long distance charges. This tends to run the battery down so low that the phone can’t cover the remainder of the day’s activities (usually taking photos and using the GPS to locate hiking spots and restaurants). So I’ve been having to charge it again around midday. On long calls it sometimes drops me off the call after about 45 minutes. This isn’t a big deal, but it has been somewhat disruptive.

I had my weekly one-on-one with Pat on Tuesday, we used the video component of Live Meeting. It worked well and her video only dropped out once. For as many virtual meetings as we have in our organization, personal video is almost never used even though most people have that capability. We do have specific meeting rooms available in the Webster office that have built-in video capabilities for the group, but they are not used on a regular basis. I haven’t seen much advantage to adding video to a meeting when I am present in the room. It just makes me more conscious of my appearance, attention and attitude as it is reflected back to me on the screen. It does serve to keep me feeling a little more connected to my group out here so I would probably use it more as a virtual employee.

Between meetings I’ve been continuing work on my primary projects. For our upcoming internal conference I spent some time searching for images that would best represent our theme “Advancing the Edge of Innovation” on the program cover. Image searching can take up a lot of time and it is always difficult to come up with something that will meet the Xerox brand imaging guidelines which are very specific. Working with another committee member, I managed to come up with 6 options which I then placed in the cover design template and pushed out to the entire committee for voting. So far, my favorite image is winning so I’m happy!

For Open Xerox this week, I’ve been doing some research on mobile website design. I have worked on several mobile applications on the iPhone platform, but I haven’t yet done a mobile website design. There are programs/services that you can use to create a mobile version, but we will probably develop our own for Open Xerox. Xerox.com does not yet have a mobile version, so I’m hoping I can be a little more creative with the design. This may even be an opportunity for me to influence the future mobile design of Xerox websites, but I won’t hold my breath. Right now I’m in the research phase, looking at the trends and existing sites that are doing creative things. I also need to understand how the sites will be displayed on a variety of mobile platforms (I have an iPhone so I’m a little biased). I’ll probably start sketching some ideas out next week. We have a great development team on Open Xerox so I know that they will be able to implement anything I come up with.

Working for Xerox, there are many things I do that I can’t write about here because they haven’t been released to the public yet or we don’t yet have patent coverage on them. One one such project, I’m primarily providing high level design direction, but I also have the opportunity to address some challenging design issues. One such issue I’ve been exploring this week is how to express the social value of a digital object (such as a blog post, news article or image). There are some very basic ways of expressing this out there (such as number of likes, tweets, diggs, votes, ratings etc.). But they are fairly one dimensional. The Facebook ‘like’ takes it a step further by adding the number of your friends who liked it. I’m trying to come up with some more multi-dimensional ways to capture value and to present them in a more visual way. For example, how many of my friends and friends of friends have read/used this object, how many of them have shared it, how did they rate it? I’ve been doing lots of thinking and sketching on that this week. I don’t have a complete solution yet, but I’m getting there. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a patent or two out of it…

I’ll be taking a long weekend off to do some traveling down to San Bernardino, CA to visit relatives. Then traveling back home on Tuesday. I should be back to my regular, non-virtual work by Wednesday. This has been a fun experiment and I look forward to doing it again sometime soon!

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