How are workplaces will look like in 20 years depends on two basic factors. One factor is the development of technology to aid us in our work. Think of all those IT-related things such as the speed and capacities of computers, networks and data storage systems. The Windows-icon-mouse paradigm developed by Xerox in the seventies has been enourmously refined over the last 25 years. This has made computers usable for almost everyone but is certainly not the end point. In the coming years scientific insights will make gadgets even easier to use and more effective. An improved understanding of human cognitive and neural processes will allow for better information-processing tools. Then there is the physical location (slowly but surely becoming less important); new materials make for better chairs, desks and ultimately an entire building specifically designed to facilitate mental work.
Last year I was asked to contribute to a book by XS4All (PDF) about the history and future of the Internet. I decided to make some broad brush points on page 102. My colleague Menso also contributed (page 36), or here on his blog.
Long ago there were some monkeys on the African savannah. It was difficult for them as they hunted other animals that were stronger and faster. Other animals could digest the dry grass and live with little water. The monkeys could do none of these things. You would think they would never survive, let alone go on to play an important role in the evolution of the Earth. That they did so is through a unique combination of two things that led to everything else: an opposable thumb and big brains.
Separately, each of these makes little difference. Dolphins have large brains and are certainly intelligent. But without hands to apply that intelligence they cannot build complex civilizations. Chimpanzees have thumbs but lack the brains to make hand axes and build terabit optical routers. So dolphins and chimpanzees are in our zoos instead of vice versa.
On Saturday May 31st Gendo presented its experience on changing national policy on open standards and opensource at LinuxTag 2008. The slides are here in ODF and PDF. LinuxTag is Europe's largest opensource conference with over 11.000 participants from 31 countries. Doing a talk there was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to next year.
Linux Magazine Germany has a writeup of the talk here. and reported on the Dutch opensource policyplan earlier this year. The presentation was not recorded but an earlier (similar) presentation was taped last december at the CCC congess, also in Berlin.