So the man over at 'Joel on Software' can be something of an asshole, but in the best possible way: he's an asshole when he's concerned about things being exactly right. And he writes in a commonsense way that makes it all palatable.
But that doesn't even begin to match the sheer holy shit that's fantastic appeal of his brand new Bionic Office. Oh man, it almost makes me wish I was a cubicle slave.
One thing I hate about academia, while we're on the subject of cubicles: the basic mode of humanistic (textual) scholarship is solitude. The best thing about working at MIT's Media Lab was the excitement of collaboration. The Lab is another well-designed collaborative space, though I imagine it's a lot less well-suited to individual work. Pity that scholars spend so much time alone. And then when you're talking to someone else - say, another graduate student - you're talking about work you've done elsewhere, not stuff you've done together. And your exchanges take the form of either a discussion of something you both happen to have read, or a report on something that only one of you has encountered.
Regardless, I miss being able to hunker down over a sheet of equations or a screen of code and really hash out a solution with another human being. Writing long-form criticism just doesn't work that way (it's easier with an article, I suspect, where you don't have to sustain a single line of thought for 200 pages).
I wonder what implications something like Joel's Bionic Office would have for a bunch of academics. Imagine if we worked in shared offices, with both privacy and real common space and community!
Heh. Maybe when I've made my first ten million.