Who Uses IM For Work? May 8, 2008Posted by gordonwatts in physics life.
On the drive from Marseille to Genova I asked the 3 others in the car if they used Instant Messaging (IM). I was the oldest in the car (getting close to 42!) and the rest ranged from mid thirties to late thirties. All are like me in that they have permanent positions. All have students, though I was the only professor – the rest were at labs around France.
How many people used IM for work? None other than me. Who used IM at all? None, other than me. On the way back I was in a car with graduate students – so mid to early twenties – but I totally forgot to ask them. However, since I rode with their advisors on the way out there I can be pretty safe in guessing they don’t use IM for conversations about physics with their advisors.
So, I have a bunch of questions. Do people use it mainly for social interactions? Or am I just in a bubble and it turns out that lots and lots of people use it for work and I just move in the wrong circles?
It was the day, not much more than two decades ago, that HEP lead the world in computing hardware and (to a lesser extent) software. We had to push it forward – the power and flexibility was just not there. I think if you look at the way we operate now – it looks very similar to how it looked back in the ’60’s. Command line. Simple text editors (vi and emacs are BIG). Batch jobs. The older set are only just getting off pine – a text/terminal mail program (moving mostly to the FireFox mail mail reader, and some to web clients).
Is there something holding us back? Or are we as a field voting with our feet: these things don’t help us get new physics results out? Perhaps we usually are in labs where you can run from one office to another and so email is good enough? IM interrupts our workflow and so we don’t want to let it in? What about all those Web 2.0 tools out there? Much of that is based on social networks and so if a lot of physicists don’t get on there, then it doesn’t really help. Are we slowly building critical mass? Or does it just not excite us yet?
Just to make sure I stay ahead of the curve, I’m trying out friend feed – think of it as a way to aggregate all of your online activities… Of course, I don’t have many online activities.