Diigo Links

Saturday, August 07, 2004

I'm having a very strange work experience. And I DO mean having, as in right now, as I type. I'm at home, it's Saturday (about 2:20p) and I'm working with some guys in the Philippines (heretofore to be known as PH). But instead of working with them over the phone, I'm using instant messaging (IM), or MS NetMeeting's chat is what we're actually using. With NetMeeting you can use a microphone and speakers and hold a meeting on the internet. Well, we just wanted to use it to chat, but I found that if I mute my mic, I can hear them. So, I'm listening in on these guys in PH who are working and going about their daily office talk (in Tagalog) and typing things in when I have something to say.

They know I'm listening, but after a while, I think they forget. A couple minutes ago I heard them walk down the hall to go to lunch. Now it's quiet. If I unmuted my microphone right now, I could hear myself talking in their room (because it ecchos - which is why I have to mute my mic - or else there's a really bad feedback loop).

So, that's all a bit strange. It's strange to have an open phone line to PH and not really be using it, or needing it. But it's essentially free. Voice over IP (VoIP) is as free as email over the internet. It's part of the bandwidth, just like any other bit of work I do on the internet (like posting to this blog), but somehow it seems more valuable.

It's also strange because there's this sort of Big Brother feeling to it. I can hear them, but they can't hear me. All sorts of funny things can be going on here at home (hanging the wash, washing dishes, etc.) and they're none the wiser.

Also, I can hear the other guy's computer say "you've got mail" every once in a while - in an empty room - I guess that answers the question about the whether a tree makes a sound if nobody is around to hear it. Or does it? No, no I guess it doesn't.

More strangeness is found in that my laptop isn't plugged into anything. It's running on batteries (while I type this and use my personal laptop) and it's using a WiFi wireless connection to the internet, and I have a mini FM radio transmitter that's broadcasting the audio to our home stereo. All gadgets are in use this morning. (plus the new table).

So, it might not sound like much - not real exciting - but did I ever imagine that this is what "work" would look like for me when I was a kid? No. Did I ever imagine a free hour++ phone call to PH when I was a kid? No, long distance phone calls were expensive from what I remember.

What I can't figure out is why I have to go to the office at all. Why can't I live or be whereever and work? It's been my longheld opinion that - just as Immigration already does for refugees - the Australian Federal Government should incent large companies to seed small country towns with IT workers, call centres, whatever. Bring seven people with my income stream (and their families) to any dead little drought stricken town in country Australia and you'd see a constant injection of capitol into their economies. You'd see their extended families come out to visit and eventually maybe some of that charm-infrastructure would return. It would also give country Australia a voice in the Telstra/connectivity battle. A few big companies on the side of country Australia would light a fire under the government's bum on that one.


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