Friday, March 03, 2006

Emerging Technologies of Importance for Labor Unions

Emerging and Disruptive Technologies
Emerging technologies represent a new paradigm that at first grows on the edge in relative obscurity and often seems to be of no threat or even of little utility to users of the sustaining technology. Then through development of new features and unexpected capabilities relative to the previous paradigm, the new emerging technologies disrupt and supplant the existing technologies. These kinds of technologies are called disruptive technologies and their utility makes them impossible to avoid. Preparing for these new technologies is the key to making the best use of them and perhaps gaining a strategic advantage with them when dealing with institutions that may not be prepared for them.

  • RSS, (Really Simple Syndication)

    • E-mail is broken
    • E-mail is insecure, RSS is a trusted source
    • Combines push and pull technologies
    • Client centric packaging and consumption
    • E-mail is ubiquitous
    • RSS has an adoption curve ahead
    • Requires act of subscription
    • Requires client software (aggregator) and configuration

  • Podcasting
    Really a subset of RSS & Blogging. Can be thought of as audio/video blogging.

    • Video or audio
    • Puts human voice and/or face to union
    • Allows for conversations
    • Capture of oral history
    • Bandwidth forgiving
    • Requires either a fast or a pervasive Internet connection to move files
    • Not indexed
    • Time consuming
    • Production considerations

  • Blogging
    (Duplication is intentional)

    • Hierarchies based on time
    • Conversational
    • Hyperlinks subvert hierarchies
    • Eases publication of web content
    • Hierarchies based on time
    • Conversational
    • Hyperlinks subvert hierarchies
    • Eases publication of web content

  • Portable device technologies
    A whole range of technologies associated with affordable portable devices:
    • Camera Phones
    • Text messaging

    • Puts the power of documentation in our members hands
    • Enables instant access
    • Can group send information
    • Smart Mobs
    • Smaller, cheaper devices than computers
    • Extends reach of Internet
    • Requires having, charging and using portable devices
    • Small devices easy to lose
    • Time consuming and learning curve
    • Generation gap with this technology

  • OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language)

    • Hierarchies can be linked, mapped, imported/exported
    • OPML files can be linked to form a tree of information
    • All kinds of things relate to hierarchies
    • With an intuitive taxonomy it is easy to find information
    • Can share & import lists of RSS feeds
    • Hierarchies need to be intuitive
    • Not clear that symbolic links are supported
    • Grafting and pruning issues
    • Very new, spec subject to change

  • VoIP (Voice/Video over Internet Protocol)

    • Can allow personal video and/or audio conferencing
    • Clients like skype are free
    • Can save us gobs of money in travel expenses
    • Collaboration is greatly enhanced
    • Human interaction critical
    • Initial cost a barrier to entry
    • Considered a peer-to-peer technology may violate acceptable use guidelines
    • Can be bandwidth intensive

  • Other Web 2.0 technologies
    The web as a platform
    • Social Networking (FOAF, XFN)
    • Wikis and other collaboration software
    • Mapping

In conclusion
Most core technologies that we now use and consider part of our daily lives were once "nascent" and were considered emerging technologies. For example, 100 years ago the steam powered passenger train was the primary mode of interstate travel and automobiles and airplanes were nascent technologies. The same can be said for the telephone, the personal computer, the Internet and the Web. In time these technologies evolved and the previously existing paradigm was disrupted and devolved. This is the lesson of history. The advantage goes to the person who sees the change when it is on the horizon and is prepared to timely apply the new technology.

Link to PowerPoint file for presentation [ppt, 204KB, link]

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