Academic rant time

Is it appropriate to review a white paper written by a vendor of cloud services as an assumed credible source of information about cloud computing?  To top it off it was written in 2009.  This is the case in a masters degree class I am taking right now.  Wouldn’t the definition of cloud computing be skewed to their services even if it is labeled a white paper?  What determines the quality of content of a white paper?  Wouldn’t it be better to use a qualified source like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide that definition?

Needless to say this is part of my discussion this week in Mobile Systems.  Wish me luck.

Gadgets, games, and dopamine

While I was reading an article about the wireless connected world (Fröhlich et al., 2011) I started to put the pieces together. The fascinating thing about the pervasiveness of gadgets, virtual environments, apps, Facebook and the like is that they have changed our reality. They are providing us with stimulus and information at such a pace that makes the feedback we see in the real world rival that of MMO’s. I’ll take a controversial stance here and say, this is not a bad thing. In fact the engaging devices and their apps drive us to explore in new ways. There is nothing new in this world, or so one would think, however when someone pulls up foursquare and begins collecting achievements by simply logging into places they haven’t visited before, or by beginning on a quest to find the best burger suddenly there is something new. All of the sudden the user is on a collaborative, feedback driven adventure with others that participate in that same service.

I am fascinated by the exploratory aspect because I’ve recently come across research that identifies that video games increase dopamine in the brain (Koepp, et al. 1998). Dopamine has a direct and positive affect on decision making and willingness to engage (Wardle, Treadway, Mayo, Zald, de Wit, 2011).

As you can tell, tying together psychology, neuroscience, video games, and technology really gets me going.


Fröhlich, P., Oulasvirta, A., Baldauf, M., & Nurminen, A. (2011). On the move, wirelessly connected to the world. Communications of the ACM, 54(1), 132-138.

Koepp, M. J. Gunn, R. N., Lawrence, A. D., Cunningham, V. J., Dagher, A., Jones, T., Brooks, D. J., Bench, C. J., & Grasby P.M. (1998). Evidence for striatal dopamine release during a video game. Nature, 393(6682), 266-268.

Wardle, M. C., Treadway, M. T., Mayo, L. M., Zald, D. H., & de Wit, H. (2011). Amping up effort: Effects of d-amphetamine on human effort-based decision-making. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(46), 16597-16602.

Research in Play

I’m finding my research coming in handy at work already as I describe the opportunities for IT innovation and how IT can actually help not only make work easier but make life more enjoyable in the office.  We already enjoy our gadgets at home why not use them with more enthusiasm at work? Why not advocate for the consumerization of IT?  Ok I haven’t quite grappled with those questions yet.  By being able to say with authority and research to back it makes me a more confident leader.  For example I recently was able to discuss the following “telecommuters can be more productive than office employees” and “virtual meetings can be more productive than the conference room equivalent.”

Understandably this is not the only class I’m doing this in but this is the first time that my own research and not curriculum guided content was used and it was empowering.

Reflecting on the Final Proposal

I’m sure that I am not alone in saying this but the final proposal was both easy and difficult to write at the same time.  Easy because we wrote a number of the sections earlier in the class but then after researching the topic they were refined and amended as interests shift and research is discovered.  The difficult thing for me was to seemingly rephrase what I have in my head several different times in several different ways on the proposal.  I see the value in it though.  Clarity and academic quality is critical in these projects and I appreciate the rigidity and structure of the requirements.  Those requirements actually make the project easier because they result in several less decisions to make.

Formatting and structure decisions are not necessary, simply follow the instructions.  It’s like a breath of fresh air, yet humorously enough it is one of the places that I get marked off in points most often.

After all the Research is Done

After all the research has been done and the annotations were complete I ran into a problem.  Although there is little research tying engagement with cloud computing, it can be implied by a large amount of it.  Especially in the telecommuting arena.  However I found a nitch I can latch onto.  By focusing on small companies (< 200 employees), resource constraints, conservative mindset, but also employee retention issues may be greater threats which makes using cloud computing more appealing if it indeed can provide the same benefits it provides to large organizations at a low cost.

It is along those lines that I think my paper will be focused.  This narrows the focus to something more tangible that I can work with as I found my past topic too broad and saturated by other academic papers.

Research Enlightenment

So I’ve been doing some heavy research this week and found it interesting to start thinking about cloud computing not only as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS but also as a tool for software developers.  I’ve read about consumerization of IT and how individuals are bringing their own devices to work to make them more productive, not waiting on IT.  Today I ran across a story about a developer that took advantage of Amazon’s cloud services to assist him in a development project where mass amounts of data needed to be processed.  In this way he actually used the cloud as a tool to make him more productive, similar to how a company may rent mainframe time for similar projects.

Taking several well researched ideas and twisting them on their side is what keeps me going in this research endeavor.

My question to you, you must have found in your research that there is a ton of repeated work.  It seems like researchers forget to dig deep themselves at times and end up researching the same thing for a different journal.  I’ve found myself throwing out articles because I find myself saying, “yup I know that already” or “yup I have another study that covers that”

It’s actually rather disappointing at times.  Then there are the people that research the obvious.  For example, a literature review that discusses workload and its effect on productivity written in 2011.

An Interesting Microsoft Survey

I’ve been beefing up my cloud research and ran across the findings of a Microsoft Survey in 2011.  The survey which targeted the understanding of “Cloud as an engine for growth” was quite interesting.  It can be found here  The most interesting thing is that it proves a theory of mine that cloud computing is far more integrated into enterprise sized companies and that it is a strategic IT initiative.  Perhaps it is because large companies have large IT departments that can focus on projects of this type, maybe it is because they are able to hire more innovative minds in IT.  Or maybe it’s because their leadership is more visionary.  I’m not sure but the fact remains, enterprise sized companies see value in IT which is another thing the survey notes.  57 percent of enterprise sized businesses said that investing in IT greatly0 promotes profitability over only 35% of small and midsized businesses.  The survey also noted that 65% enterprise sized businesses believe investing in IT over the next 5 yrs will increase profitability over only 45% of small and midsized businesses.

Why the disconnect?  What do enterprise level businesses know that small businesses do not?


Inner Battle: Telecommuting, Social Networking, Small Companies

I constantly battle with the thoughts “am I going down a benefits of telecommuting path?”  Perhaps the reason I feel that way is because engagement and cloud computing are most visible in that work environment.  I can find a lot of research about employee engagement and telecommuting but very little on cloud specifically and engagement yet that is a good thing because it is implied in many of the articles I read.  I’m reading about social networks and how they promote employee engagement but then I think, that wouldn’t work in a small company because for social networks to work there needs to be activity and I guarantee they will check Facebook 10 times before they look at the corporate social network.  How could a corporate social network integrate with their personal one?  Is that possible?  Then maybe there would be more engagement… but then theirs personal activities being done at work and we can’t have that right!  or can we?  hmmm.

Twittering @avantgame

On twitter I follow Jane McGonical, author of “Reality is Broken” and basic gamification pioneer.  There I discovered her new TED talk.

After being inspired by the talk I initiated a twitter sized dialog with her who directed me to the science she referred to on her new TED talk

Her research is here:

A really brief review of it seems to uncover some more academic literature that might be useful, but I’ll have to dig more.  If anything it will be interesting reading.