Friday, June 20, 2008

Disruptive Innovation and the Infomated Workplace

One author who set my thinking into "forest fire" mode was Dr. Shoshanna Zuboff: her book The Future of the Workplace was a validation of my thinking about the virtual community as a place where one could really "use" one's imagination. Dr. Zuboff coined the word "infomate" in the spirit of "automate", wherein, an automated workplace amplified the muscle and sinews of the worker; computers and the data stream would amplify the brain and nerve power of the worker in the future workplace.

"Exploiting the 'informated' environment means opening the information base of the organization to members at every level, assuring that each has the knowledge, skills and authority to engage with the information productively." Shoshana Zuboff

"Computerization brings about an essential change in the way the worker can know the world and, with it, a crisis of confidence in the possibility of certain knowledge."
Shoshana Zuboff

"The workplace of the future will bear little resemblance to today's centrally administered hierarchies. Work will be more ad hoc, on the fly and responsive. Successful employees won't be afraid of new situations without rules." Shoshana Zuboff

Later, I will try to make the sense that I made out of Dr. Zuboff's vision. For right this red-hot second, though, today, I was browsing the bookshelves and a provocative title called out: Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christiensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson. This was a book that had something that made perfect sense on every random page. As a high school English teacher, I enjoy finding the patterns in diverse pieces of literature. I am going to try to make sense of Zuboff by reading Christiensen, et al.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I was browsing the shelves at the local bigbox store and there was a reprint of Elliot Wigginton's first Foxfire -- one of the inspirations for Harrington Project. Redburn Gap, GA. Some kid set his podium on fire. But Wigginton realized that kids need and appreciate limits, but they also need an outlet for their energy. He realized they were capable of bringing to school the knowledge and energy of their lives, and that the role of school is to set some limits for personal, constructive growth. Focus. The classroom is a starting point for personal conceptual growth. We have paid years of lip service to this, but in order to preserve the institution of school, we have encased it in pretty amber.

Today is closing day, and the teachers are filling up the dumpster with raggedy grimey textbooks. Someday, no dumpster will be needed, because everything will be taken home, everything will be recycled into pure energy.

I will be spending more time debriefing here over the summer in preparation to publish somehere. Your comments appreciated.