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IBM is ending its decades-old remote work policy — Quartz

Team proximity appears to help foster better new ideas. One Harvard study found that researchers who worked in close physical proximity produced more impactful papers. Another report used data from badges that collect data on employee interaction to argue that employees who have more chance encounters and unplanned interaction perform better. This idea, known as the “water cooler effect,” has been embraced by the most successful technology companies. Steve Jobs was obsessed with creating unplanned meetings, going so far as to propose building all of the bathrooms in Pixar’s offices in only one part of the building to encourage them (luckily for Pixar employees, someone vetoed this idea). Facebook offers workers a $10,000 bonus if they live near headquarters.

Human animal collabortion

Off Laguna, in southern Brazil, people and bottlenose dolphins have fished together for generations. The dolphins swim towards the beach, driving mullet towards the fishermen. The men wait for a signal from the dolphins—a distinctive dive—before throwing their nets. The dolphins are in charge, initiating the herding and giving the vital signal, though only some do this. The people must learn which dolphins will herd the fish and pay close attention to the signal, or the fishing will fail. Both groups of mammals must learn the necessary skills. Among the humans, these are passed down from father to son; among the dolphins, from mother to calf. In this example, how much do the species differ?

In the brain, Apollo and Dionysis work together to create

"On the one hand, there is surely a need for a region that tosses out innovative ideas, but on the other hand there is also the need for one that will know to evaluate how applicable and reasonable these ideas are. The ability of the brain to operate these two regions in parallel is what results in creativity. It is possible that the most sublime creations of humanity were produced by people who had an especially strong connection between the two regions," the researchers concluded.

Dolphin talk

When given the hand signal to “innovate,” Hector and Han know to dip below the surface and blow a bubble, or vault out of the water, or dive down to the ocean floor, or perform any of the dozen or so other maneuvers in their repertoire—but not to repeat anything they’ve already done during that session. Incredibly, they usually understand that they’re supposed to keep trying some new behavior each session. Bolton presses her palms together over her head, the signal to innovate, and then puts her fists together, the sign for “tandem.” With those two gestures, she has instructed the dolphins to show her a behavior she hasn’t seen during this session and to do it in unison. Hector and Han disappear beneath the surface. With them is a comparative psychologist named Stan Kuczaj, wearing a wet suit and snorkel gear and carrying a large underwater video camera with hydrophones. He records several seconds of audible chirping between Hector and Han, then his camera captures them both slowly rolling over in unison and flapping their tails three times simultaneously. Above the surface Bolton presses her thumbs and middle fingers together, telling the dolphins to keep up this cooperative innovation. And they do. The 400-pound animals sink down, exchange a few more high-pitched whistles, and then simultaneously blow bubbles together. Then they pirouette side by side. Then they tail walk. After eight nearly perfectly synchronized sequences, the session ends.

Friends collaborate better in work

Friendship groups performed significantly better than acquaintance groups on both decision-making and motor tasks because of a greater degree of group commitment and cooperation. Critical evaluation and task monitoring also significantly increased decision-making performance, whereas positive communication mediated the relationship between friendship and motor task performance.

EyeWire game to map mouse eye neurons

In 2012, Seung started EyeWire, an online game that challenges the public to trace neuronal wiring — now using computers, not pens — in the retina of a mouse’s eye. Seung’s artificial-­intelligence algorithms process the raw images, then players earn points as they mark, paint-by-numbers style, the branches of a neuron through a three-dimensional cube. The game has attracted 165,000 players in 164 countries. In effect, Seung is employing artificial intelligence as a force multiplier for a global, all-volunteer army that has included Lorinda, a Missouri grandmother who also paints watercolors, and Iliyan (a.k.a. @crazyman4865), a high-school student in Bulgaria who once played for nearly 24 hours straight. Computers do what they can and then leave the rest to what remains the most potent pattern-recognition technology ever discovered: the human brain.

Charismatic leaders helped by perception of mortal threats

For example, the researchers asked students to think about death or a control topic and then read statements supposedly written by gubernatorial candidates of varying leadership styles. You are not just an ordinary citizen, you are part of a special state and a special nation, the charismatic leader said. I can accomplish all the goals that I set out to do. I am very careful in laying out a detailed blueprint of what needs to be done so that there is no ambiguity, a task-oriented leader said. I encourage all citizens to take an active role in improving their state. I know that each individual can make a difference, the relationship-oriented leader said. Participants then picked the candidate they would vote for. After thinking about a control topic, four of 95 people chose the charismatic leader. After a death reminder, that candidate’s votes increased nearly eightfold. Such results, the psychologists wrote, suggested that "close elections could be decided as a result of nonrational terror-management concerns."

Marathon des Sables camaradarie

His head torch is brighter than mine and lights up the dips and rocks. My eyesight is better than his and I can make out the dim glowticks that mark out the course of the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day, 250-kilometer (155-mile) race in the Moroccan desert where competitors must carry their own food. Today's stage is the longest ever in the race's 30-year history at 92 kilometers. My new friend and I spur each other along. Alex Morales during the 91.7-kilometer stage 4, the longest in the 30-year history of the Marathon des Sables. […] "For me, the best aspect of the Marathon des Sables was the camaraderie,'' Gemma Game, a 35-year-old fund manager at Norges Bank in London who placed 87th out of about 1,300 runners and was the fourth woman, wrote in an e-mail. "A passion for running united men and women, transcending differences of language, gender or nationality.''

Unlocking the organization with simple network mapping

Our client asked us to map cooperation in their organization because they had the feeling something might not be quite right.When together we looked at the network map, our client immediately recognized the bottleneck:the Head of Customer Services. This manager’s centrality was constraining the speed, spread and quality of information flow, creating a major HR risk. If this person were occupied, then the exchange of information between the Customer Service department and the rest of the organization would be seriously impaired. And on top of all of this, given that all information in the organization flowed through this same person, all information had the same “imprint” and was colored by the values and opinions of this person.

How women led Congress out of the swamp

Growing evidence shows that women leaders operate differently. The government shutdown of October 2013 ended, despite a complete congressional impasse, when three women Republican Senators broke ranks from their party. Two women Democrats followed their lead, and men on both sides came along. The bipartisan committee that worked on the final deal was gender balanced, but John McCain perceptively joked that the women were taking over. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who had started it all by courageously calling for compromise, told a reporter, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence…. Although we span the ideological spectrum, we are used to working together.” While male colleagues crossed their arms and sulked, women crossed the aisle with phone calls, email and social media. The men saw a deal they could live with and followed suit.

Booktrope brings collaboration to publishing

Anyway, if you’re accepted into the system, you then post your completed manuscript on Booktrope and try to attract a team of editors, designers and marketers, who can then collaborate through Booktrope’s online tools. Authors aren’t paying other team members directly, but offering them a share of the royalties. That means the author doesn’t have to pay out of their own pocket for these services, and the team members will have an incentive for the book to do well.

In Venture Capital, Birds of a Feather Lose Money Together (Success Defined as IPO)

They found that the probability of success decreased by 17 percent if two co-investors had previously worked at the same company—even if they hadn't worked there at the same time. In cases where investors had attended the same undergraduate school, the success rate dropped by 19 percent. And, overall, investors who were members of the same ethnic minority were 20 percent less successful than investors with different ethnic backgrounds.

Czechoslovakia in the 70s

In January 1969, Jan Palach, a philosophy undergraduate, burned himself to death in Wenceslas Square to protest the Soviet invasion. Unlike most of his fellow dissidents, Havel did not react to Palach’s death with tears, desperation, or hopeless rage. Instead, like the politician he was to become, he gave a television interview in which he declared, with strange—and up to this point uncharacteristic—bravado, “There is just one road open to us: to wage our political battle until the end … I understand the death of Jan Palach as a warning against the moral suicide of all of us.” Moral suicide—taking a job with the regime, informing on your erstwhile dissident friends—became a standard if depressing mode of collaboration in the 1970s. The parallel polis collapsed, leaving the few remaining dissidents to face the full pressure of the regime alone. Of that long decade, Zantovsky writes, “few … can imagine the twilight mood, the torpor, which resembled a state of semi-anaesthesia.”

How a lone hacker shredded the myth of crowdsourcing — Backchannel — Medium

“Myself and others in the social sciences community tend to think of such massive acts of sabotage as anomalies, but are they?” wondered Cebrian. To settle the question, Cebrian analyzed his (and other) crowdsourcing contests with the help of Victor Naroditskiy, a game theory expert at the University of Southampton. The results shocked him. “The expected outcome is for everyone to attack, regardless of how difficult an attack is,” says Cebrian. “It is actually rational for the crowd to be malicious, especially in a competition environment. And I can’t think of any engineering or game theoretic or economic incentive to stop it.”

Is the science of networking the new art?

A Gen‑X graphic-artist friend has told me that the young designers she meets are no longer interested in putting in their 10,000 hours. […]10,000 hours is less important now than 10,000 contacts. A network, I should note, is not the same as what used to be known as a circle—[…]the network is a far more diffuse phenomenon, and the connections that it typically entails are far less robust. A few days here, a project there, a correspondence over e‑mail. A contact is not a collaborator. Coleridge, for Wordsworth, was not a contact; he was a partner, a comrade, a second self. It is hard to imagine that kind of relationship, cultivated over countless uninterrupted encounters, developing in the age of the network. What kinds of relationships will develop, and what they will give rise to, remains to be seen.

Running with a group ups your game

Training partners provide accountability and motivation at every level, says Jamie Kempton, a former high school and college coach who led the Rockland Road Runners, in New York, until January. […]you are more apt to show up and finish a workout when someone else is counting on you. […]And the pack mentality extends beyond accountability when your training partners are a tad faster than you. As Betsy Keever, 39, an Impala, puts it, "Being around a group of speedy ladies has significantly raised my own expectations of myself."

Gram Parsons meets Chris Hillman

In February 1968, 21-year-old Gram Parsons, a songwriter and trust fund baby from Winter Haven, Florida, met Chris Hillman, a soft-spoken guitarist and mandolinist from San Diego, while standing in a line in Beverly Hills bank. The 23-year-old Hillman was veteran of the SoCal bluegrass scene and was then playing bass for L.A. pop princes The Byrds. Hillman and Parsons bonded over their mutual love of country music and fast motorcycles, and Hillman soon brought the young upstart to the Byrds’ rehearsals.

To balance giving and accomplishing, carve out work-only periods

The engineers could set aside windows during which they were not allowed to interrupt one another. After some trial and error, the team earmarked Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9 AM until noon for quiet time, leaving the rest of the week for collaborative work, including helping one another solve problems. Perlow found that the quiet time yielded above-average productivity for 65% of the engineers. Three months later the team launched the laser printer, right on schedule. It was only the second time in the history of the division that a product had launched without delays, and the vice president credited the quiet time as the reason.

Isaac Asimov's 1959 advice to MIT think-tank on creativity

If a single individual present is unsympathetic to the foolishness that would be bound to go on at such a session, the others would freeze. […]If a single individual present has a much greater reputation than the others, or is more articulate, or has a distinctly more commanding personality, he may well take over the conference and reduce the rest to little more than passive obedience. […] I should guess that no more than five would be wanted. A larger group might have a larger total supply of information, but there would be the tension of waiting to speak, which can be very frustrating. It would probably be better to have a number of sessions at which the people attending would vary, rather than one session including them all. […]It is not what people say at these conferences, but what they inspire in each other later on.)

Research at Stanford shows that working together boosts motivation

Their findings showed that when people were treated as though they were working together they: Persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on a challenging task Reported more interest in the task Became less tired by having to persist on the task – presumably because they enjoyed it Became more engrossed in the task and performed better on it Finally, when people were encouraged to reflect on how their interest in the puzzle was relevant to their personal values and identity, people chose to do 53 percent more related tasks in a separate setting one to two weeks later. "The results showed that simply feeling like you're part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges," said Walton. Moreover, the results reflect an increase in motivation – not a sense of obligation, competition or pressure to join others in an activity.

Users innovate

You can invent the telephone and put it out in the world and say, "This would be fantastic for you playing cello on one end and someone else listening to you playing cello on the other end," but it gets out into the world and people start using it. They say, "That would be a terrible way of using the telephone. But it is really great for calling my grandmother." That is always the case with technology when it gets unleashed into the world. People end up pushing it in directions that the inventors never dreamed of.

Does a group have a mind of its own? | Character and Context

Strikingly, we found that participants were willing to attribute beliefs and desires to a group agent even when they didn’t attribute those beliefs and desires to any of the group’s members. In response to the scenario described above, participants overwhelmingly reported that the committee—the group agent—wanted to play the third kind of music but that none of the individual members wanted to play that kind of music.

The philosophy behind Gawker's new office space

"The office will be on the second and third floors, with a public and performance space connecting the two. That will be open, a thoroughfare designed to promote random interaction. By contrast, the working space will be arranged in what we call studios, spaces contained on three sides designed for teams of half a dozen people or so to collaborate on projects without disturbing others," Denton wrote in the memo."The studio spaces have standard dimensions, defined by the structure of the building. But each will be furnished according to each team's desires. I imagine the Deadspin studio will be an absolute pigsty," Denton told Capital in a gchat conversation.