iStanford: Is Big Brother Now Part of the Team?
Stanford commissioned an iPhone application from two of its students – and they aren’t Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Kayvon Beykpour and Aaron Wasserman have built iStanford, an iPhone application that will allow locational monitoring – Stanford students will be able to see who’s where and tap to text -- for fellow students who have turned on the service, as well as access to university tasks. Josh Quittner’s related Time article Can iStanford Take On Facebook Mobile? gives us more detail:
.. the newest version, slated to arrive shortly, also allows students to add and drop courses, see the real-time whereabouts of the on-campus shuttle bus, review their grades and course history and perform a variety of other administrative tasks that are normally accessible only over secure campus networks. That's because, in an unusual move, Stanford's IT folks allowed the developers to connect to core computer systems at Stanford.Organizational integration. Openness to monitoring. The article notes that security was a key consideration and that the ap had to go through the normal vendor screening process. What’s interesting to me is the integration across organizational and student activities. I hate to say this as a Cal grad (Go Bears!), but Stanford is the perfect place to be exploring these issues. The students and the faculty will be interested in how this plays out, both for daily use, and as it relates to new organizational forms and actions (prior post on new organizational forms). This integrative – mobile approach is interesting – as is integrating across Loopt, Twitter, and LinkedIn and/or Facebook. The Wired Campus article that brought this to my attention raises a question I’ll be addressing more deeply over the next few weeks:
“It will be interesting to see whether students — or professors — allow friends to track their every move.”I think the answer will be in the real-time value provided as a result of this monitoring. Those of us older than “the Facebook Generation” remember the push back against electronic monitoring in the workplace. Now we’re volunteering for it. In my chapter on monitoring entitled “Social and Technical Aspects of Electronic Monitoring: To Protect and To Serve” (paraphrasing the motto of the LA PD), I raise issues related to valuable versus punitive monitoring – one key point being who’s getting the data. In an earlier article, I’d offered ideas around monitoring as it related to team visualization. When we monitor our own location to better hook up with a shuttle service – that’s a service. When I use Loopt to let my family know where I am – that’s a service. When we self-report on our actions and thoughts via Twitter – that may be a service – still not sure to whom, though I did finally sign up… When a financial services firm monitors its employees’ email, the firm is protecting the customers and the firm itself. Sarbanes Oxley (for more: here and here) has now made document retention of a variety of forms a formal organizational requirement. I’ll be taking a look at what the sociologists have to say about our new found willingness to participate in monitoring. Comments are especially appreciated on examples of where we seem to draw the line -- when is the tracking too much? Key to organizational value will be whether we find ways to monitor that help us do a better job. Never before have we been so able to get feedback from the task itself -- a core component of the Hackman & Oldham Job Characteristics Model. For now, I’m excited to see that I can finally monitor my own Internet use (something I asked for in the 2003 chapter mentioned above).