Smart working: efficient working via network


The Internet has had a massive impact on our lives, our day-to-day life, on our personal relationships and, for many of us, on our job as well; an unthinkable impact only a decade ago.
This is not a consideration dictated by an overconfidence in technology, obvious flaw of this BLOG, but a consequence of a constant action of studying, of gathering relevant evidence, numerical and social, often way to high our expectations.
The “smart working” clearly represents another, evident, example of the change caused by the network, an example to tell.
I would like to avoid any possible misunderstanding: “smart working” is not the literary translation from English of the term “teleworking”. If we want to quickly translate this term, word-for-word, probably the most appropriate definition is “dynamic working” or even better “efficient working“.
This is not just about relocating the working activity, working at home; this is about modifying it by introducing new dynamic elements such as the possibility of using videoconference tools or sharing documents and multimedia material through the cloud. We consider reasonable enough, even if superficial, the comparison between teleworking and smart working and, equally, the “ordinary” cell phone and smartphone. In both cases the “smart tools” represent a new generation versus the old one, a new ubiquitous way, interactive and social.
To tell you the truth we are not particularly opting for the term “smart”, used way too much in the recent past, but we totally agree with the “smart” devices, state-of-the-art phones, tablets, e-readers and personal computers. They are the reference “tools” not only for communicating and relating in our personal life but, more and more often, indispensable tools in our everyday working environment.
The “smart devices” can be used in a restaurant, in the waiting room of a station or of an airport, in a library, on a subway or a train. They may also establish new connections between people as well as new working situations.
The efficient working or smart working does not produce benefits only to those living dynamic working situations, itinerant, “of manager” so to speak, in most cases also helps to reach a diametrically opposed purpose by reducing the traveling and simplifying this way our own lifestyle: less traveling, less polluting, working better.
In the previous article we had highlighted one of the reasons why the social networks are successful, and that is because the urban model is unable to guarantee easy and safe travels. So to avoid traffic jams as well as thousand insecurities, one prefers to socialize from home through a video screen.
The same (we assume positive) dynamics is spreading in the world of work; we can work in team, share activities, post, tweet, communicate and think “in team”, while being in pajamas at the kitchen table; a small revolution, at least until now.
The internet user, the one we often call cybernaut, has learned during these years to comment online and to communicate through social tools. This “smart” user, manages his work communications via email; he produces and reads digital documentation that, more and more often, places and shares online through the cloud; he searches via search engines or wiki, forums or specialised websites useful information regarding his own job, examples and comments; he dynamically joins groups of people sharing the same hashtags.
It is not surprising the fact that, in 2014, in the Italian Chamber has been presented a transversal proposal, signed by Irene Tinagli (Scelta Civica), Alessia Mosca (Pd) and Barbara Saltamartini (Ncd), aimed precisely at sustaining and standardising the smart working from the legislative point of view.
The new technologies implemented at work, represent indeed a great opportunity allowing the persons to live their own spaces and, at the same time, a coherent and dignified working reality. Equally, a society that limits travelling to what is strictly necessary and provides tools which promote a fast sharing of contents is facilitated in terms of innovation, thought, production and so on…
It is obvious that, with the smart working is not to be reset the component “Vis-à-vis “, which remains central, predominant. However, technology can, in some cases, provide new working alternatives, new relational crosses.
Nor should we be surprised that from 2014, with repetition in March 2015, the Municipality of Milan has launched “The Efficient working Day” (“Giornata del lavoro agile“) precisely in order to share solutions and experiences.
To be honest, it is not surprising neither the fact that the bipartisan proposal described earlier has ever been acted upon. It seems that a further proposal by Maurizio del Conte, lecturer of Labour Law, with the support of the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is under development.
The “smart working” will inevitably follow a path full of obstacles. This is just the beginning, standardising “impalpable” smart working situations is anything but an easy operation. It is necessary to define politics of specific policy and in line both with the demands of the employer and the fast technological changes introduced by web and inside the devices as well as with the working requirements of the employees “otherwise located“. We wonder, for example, of whom is the propriety of a document placed on the cloud? What rights has the company that provides the computers (servers) where the material is placed, if these rights are lost after a certain period of time, if the company that manages the cloud or the network connection can analyse the working documentation statistically for trade purposes and if it can provide these processed contents to third party? We also wonder how it would be possible, in a relationship for objectives, to protect the employee, to build appropriate organizational and administrative infrastructures and to check the achievement of the objectives. Of equal importance is to guarantee the employee the proper breaks, a healthy and opportune alternation between virtual working spaces and daily life, the real one. The risk of being “always connected” and therefore always available and always operational is tangible.
Smart working does not mean working non-stop.
Despite these perplexities and the absence of a legislation platform (in Italy), the smart working is rising sharply, as already shown in other articles devoted to changes produced by network. The internet is acting as injector providing tools as well as a transnational push, especially in cases where the “real world” appears to be deeply unsatisfactory (and this is certainly one of those cases). If the novelty is positively welcomed by network, the real world can only take note of the change.
To be frank, statistics in hand, the Italian management, public and privatised, including political class, except for some valuable exceptions, has not yet understood the potentialities involved in this “small revolution”. It is not yet ready to appraise its own resources for objective; it is not used to motivate its own resources, especially those of long-distance; it often follows a conservative approach distrusting the technologies which uses only by proxy; it is more careful of monitoring the physical presence, rather than encouraging innovation and career development.
An efficient way of working can improve the quality of life and consequently have an impact on productivity, motivation, earning power, learning and renovating of the individual.
We are just at the beginning of a new long process that mankind must follow. We are still confused regarding the possible perspectives, but we have already understood that it is necessary, maybe urgent, to reconsider the working models fully in line with the opportunities provided by the network and with the demands coming from the labor market.
We conclude by underlining, in a restrict world of work and in a serious crisis, some of the most important prospects given by the “smart working”: the opportunity to recruit people located elsewhere, the opportunity to hire competent people who don’t have the possibility to travel long distances every day , the opportunity to spend their time and energies on working and not on traffic, the opportunity to instantly share the material produced, the opportunity to attribute to a common factor one’s own ideas “in real time”, the opportunity to create dynamic and transnational working groups in line with the goal to be achieved.
We are sure that many of us will live, in the next ten years, these new working opportunities; they will do it in “our” World 2.0.


Bye bye handwriting

scrittura_manualeRecent news, spread by the web: Students in Finnish primary schools, from autumn 2016, will no longer learn cursive handwriting, instead they will learn to use keyboards, during the entire course of study.
It is one of those reports that many of us, who were students in the twentieth century, find shocking.
We have always known that Finland, the nation promoting this initiative, is a commendable example,  along with its “nordic cousins” Sweden and Norway, of social assistance policies, culture and education.
But what is the context that is driving this change? Let’s analyze this conversion to digital and try to understand what is behind this “social and cultural change”.
It is clear that the advent of email, certified mail, and institutional services on line is rapidly reducing the use of paper in our daily lives. Official communications are increasingly “virtual“.
Some leading international companies appear to have effectively prohibited from bringing any paper document outside the building business. A small number of companies, anticipating the change, have prohibited printing any type of document. If you violate this rule you will be fired.
This type of decision, which affects our daily lives, accelerates the process of virtualization / digitization of our work places making handwriting, for those of us who were students in the twentieth century and are now active workers, not only optional but “not welcome” from a business perspective.
Even public institutions are renewing, we hear more about and use more tools such as electronic certificates, electronic documents, electronic money, digital signatures, …
In our daily lives tools such as smartphones and tablets, that enable us to communicate via a virtual keyboard, allow us to instantly share our content and our personal opinions. At the same time tablets and e-readers are progressively encouraging the increase in the number of “digital readers” of online newspapers, magazines and books.
From the technological point of view also the cloud, understood as a group  of virtual services and virtual spaces always available to the user, encourages the transposition of our personal material, documents, images, video, into the digital world (there is no paper equivalent for the “cloud” !!!).
A confirmation of the topicality of the phenomenon we are talking about: the shift from handwriting (and paper) to digital media, the text in one of the latest hits of the Italian singer Giusy Ferreri reads: “I wanted to write you a letter though by now we do so rarely” (“Avrei voluto scriverti una lettera anche se ormai si usa poco” ).
Despite these obvious facts the news about handwriting has upset us a lot.

Our handwriting is not only a communication tool, it is also an expression of personal creativity, a demonstration of our anthropological path, our operating manual, the evidence of our personal sensitivity, an instrument of transmission of traditions and cultural values, …
Taking our cue from the news again and collect initial reflection of Susanna Huhta, who is a member of the “Association of Native Language Teachers”. She states that handwriting helps children develop fine motor skills and brain function, and therefore, the writing lessons should be replaced with alternative activities which develop the same skills such as handicrafting and drawings.
What we can say? The digital revolution is underway. It is an irreversible global phenomenon that engages in an increasingly complex, interconnected and stressed social system. Many of us have already abandoned bicycles for exercise bikes, racing outdoors for the treadmill, encyclopedias for search engines, pigeons for mobile phones, …
The next “digital” generation will be interconnected. It will have a network of virtual instruments and digital content always available, tools that undoubtedly facilitate its life and its way of communicating, but at the same time, its individuals will not experience the intimate and unique pleasure of writing a love letter or crafting poem with their own hands.
This is why we are a little concerned and, at the same time, we feel a little regret for the new generation …


The digital Omnivores: A new model of mass consumption


The consumer society, or rather consumerist, underwent a significant change during the last decade.
On the one hand, the modern productive model has reached physiological limits producing more than necessary, in terms of consumption and desire, and on the other hand the serious public debt of many industrialized countries, among these Italy, has determined the application of strict policies on the deficit which have led to a drop in consumptions and, consequently, to a decline of the manufacturing processes.
This state of crisis has originated, in one part of the consumers, the beginning of a critique conscience which determined a greater ability in selecting and identifying the own necessities, for a critical and aware consumption. The others, perhaps the majority, are getting used to it and begin to buy less and worry more about the future.
In this sad passage from the postmodern society to a new model of social consumption, internet – “the web”, is determining a further significant “rift.”
On internet the consumer doesn’t play only the role of a passive spectator as happens in the real world: he chooses, makes comments, shares, read other people’s judgments, communicates, compares the prices, passes the word in a fast way,… practically he is the protagonist of his own purchase. Through internet the consumer has at his disposal a remarkable number of alternatives and a great deal of opinions and information which accompany every choice he made.
Furthermore, web spreads, online as well as in the real world, a new model of purchase based on the use of goods or services and not on the possession, going far beyond the “old system” which had dominated before the rural society and after the industrial/modern/postmodern one.
I, as a user, read the comments of the others and consequently choose the movie to see this evening. Therefore, I am aware of my choice made, let’s say, through a service “on demand” among thousands of titles available. At the end of the vision I don’t retain any right on this film (if not, in some occasions, for a short period of time).
The passive spectator/reader/listener/client becomes an active user who chooses, judges, spreads information and who, at the same time, through services online or on demand or streaming, listens to the music, reads a book, watches a documentary, a film, a TV series.
The novelties are uncountable, the user is aware of the fact that the services are provided in real time without being necessary to reach a particular place to proceed with the purchase and, above all, the patrimony is replaced by the immediate and to term usufruct, not to mention the quantity of the goods available, practically endless.
Today, in this epoch “of transit”, often, for the people who don’t know me in person, I still am what I possess. By the end of the next decade, for those who won’t know me in person, I will be what I will purchase online, what I use, what I reach and what I share /comment.
The option of term purchase, typical of intangible services “on line“, “on demand“, “streaming“, “in cloud“, adopts the main characteristics of web: it is fast, participatory, social, it doesn’t require personal contact, it is delocalized, it can be anonymous. All characteristics amply deepened in the previous articles dedicated to the “new web 2.0.”
To sum up, “I choose what to purchase and when to proceed with it, I don’t stock, I don’t possess, I don’t preserve more than I need.”
The new digital devices, especially the tablets, are the real protagonists of this change. They are determining the global spread of this new model of mass consumption.
The tablets are more “friendly” than the Personal Computers: they are easy to turn on, easy to turn off, in an instant they allow you to access the services without using a desk, they have a good autonomy, they are able to memorize your own passwords accessing both internet, through a browser, and APP, or better, applications expressly saved.
The tablets are not the only type of available tools, a wide range of mobile devices, each of it characterized by specific characteristics (dimensions, weight, video, price), allows each of us to be frequently connected online.
The study made by Deloitte named “State of the Media Democracy” underlines the increasing purchase and use of tablets, despite the economic crisis, paying particular attention to the other devices as well, such as “Laptop” and “smart phone”, also very popular .
The previous model of consumption is in full crisis, everyday thousands of shops close, the consumers don’t buy anymore and they even lose interest in buying, yet, as Deloitte’s study indicates, the consumption crisis doesn’t concern at all the mobile devices with the internet access, which, by the way, is in very fast growth in Italy in 2014 as well. Along with this, increases the number of people able to navigate from a device to another (tablet, smart phone, PC) depending on the situations, which strengthens even more the initial hypothesis and that is the one of the user who is becoming more and more expert and aware of what internet means.
The infographic proposed in this study sustains that 44% of Italians possess one of the followings: a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone, fact that gives him/her the possibility to be connected to internet all day long, in a targeted manner, based on the personal needs of each individual.
Deloitte goes further coining the term of “Digital omnivores” with the purpose of identifying that typology of users who are often connected to internet, hungry of contents, information, social contacts and so on…
To summarize, once again web, through its “smart” tools, positions itself in areas where the “real world” turns out insufficient. The user not only has a smaller economic availability but also a shorter time available and therefore he uses more (online) tools to search for opinions, to compare the prices, to choose, to suggest, to buy in a down market even by means of new contractual forms.
The “old style” consumers are decreasing and the “digital omnivores” are increasing. They are fast, comparative, schizophrenic, never completely satisfied, with a strong tendency towards saving and free on line.
The all while the previous social model, based on the consumption on the spot and the physical possession of the goods, has evidently overcome its peak only to follow a steep descent whose distribution seems to adopt an all-Gaussian tendency.
What if the GNP, the gross national product, will be calculated in the future through the number of online transactions made by its citizens? The statistics of Google Analytics on our transactions would govern our deficit and our spread.
Maybe there is a reason to be concerned about or maybe not.


How the Cloud will change our lives: the relocation of our cultural heritage


Few days ago I read the following lines “it is clear that the new technologies are nothing new, there is nothing that can really be called a novelty,” it is not true. It ‘s obvious, blatantly obvious, that the tools and devices invented and circulated in the twenty-first century are a strong element of innovation, they provide a new way to use technology.
Over the past decade, software programming has made great strides and application frameworks have been refined. In plain English, application frameworks mean infrastructures necessary to govern and regulate the software development. Sharing protocols have evolved, lightweight, standardized. API “application program interface”, add-ons and plug-ins have greatly increased, in other words, the software engineer has at his disposal different types of tools and services.
For  user, the direct consequence of these changes is a more friendly realization of navigation interfaces, much more interactive, fast, dynamic and easy to use. In technical terms the application of new customs, standards-based paradigms and tools has certainly improved software for portability, maintainability, responsiveness, ease of installation and configuration. Not bad, absolutely not bad at all.
Even the devices have had in the last five years an extraordinary acceleration, how many of you in 1999 could even imagine a tool like the tablet I’m using now to write this article? Devices at your finger tip, used by all, that provide essential services, useful and less useful but above all which allow us to live in every moment of the day, wherever we are, our many different network personalities, through social networks, blogs and portals.
All these instruments were absent before … all these instruments are based on new technological features use.
Let’s not forget  HD camcorders and digital cameras that allow us to create a small multimedia heritage to be shared on  network, for example on YouTube, portal founded in the recent 2005 or on our smart television.
But the real novelty is Cloud Computing , a cloud with spaces and services available to user. The “Cloud” combined with recent devices will have a significant impact on our habits.
Our files will be no longer placed on our PC, or rather on his disks, but “elsewhere” on a cloud, easily accessible via our tablets, our smartphones, our office PC, our home PC and even via the PC present in the hotel where we are spending our holidays …
Our precious files will be placed elsewhere, easily accessible, properly stored, handled by the provider that offers the service of cloud, in order to avoid the loss of information, common in home personal computer.
To be more precise the Cloud is already available.
The cloud, which is a set of spaces and services, is expected to trigger new risks in terms of security and privacy. I do not think this kind of risks can slow down its spread, after all, none of us knows how our bank invests our money to guarantee investments made by others. We content ourselves with a little number, and that is the balance.
The relocation of our heritage is probably the main effect due to a large number of innovative technological elements came out during the last decade: these new devices are always at our side, such as: new technological standards, new and more streamlined communication protocols, new services faster and more collaborative, “smart”, often available at no extra cost, or at least with minimal cost within everybody’s means.
Within a decade all your books, favorite movies, music, personal and business documents, your avatar, your blogs, comments posts on social networks, bibliographies and so on, will be on a cloud and all you’ll have to do is fly inside it whenever you consider it necessary.
Not everyone knows that Daedalus, father of Icarus, was an inventor