I had great fun at the SHiFT08 conference in Lisbon in the past days. Inspiring stories both on and off stage, lots of familiar and new faces, great conversations, and great sea food.
Meanwhile I have added all SHiFT08 pictures to Flickr. Feel free to tag them if you want (which following up on Stephanie’s advice is now possible for everyone). I am in the process of uploading video to Youtube, a few of which are already online.
The slides I used as introduction to the Knowledge Cafe I gave at SHiFT08 are up on my personal slidesharing site of course:

I am currently in Lisbon for the SHiFT conference. This three day event saw a day of workshops yesterday, and today is the start of the conference proper, with about 50 presentations until tomorrow evening.

Feira Internacional de Lisboa: SHiFT venue

My contribution will be a 80 minute Knowledge Cafe on the cultural categories and concepts that need/are shifting because of the impact mobile communications and internet have as infrastructures on our lives and routines. Digital nomads have seen their perception of work-life balance, value, transparancy, privacy, information strategies, organisations, jobs, structures etc, change in the past decade. This means we are learning new boundaries, barriers and attractors to balance our lives, and are creating new meaning and language to express that. I think there is a real need for that type of redefining cultural concepts and creating new language. Simply because it is virtually impossible to express the new exclusively in the language of the old. By doing a Knowledge Cafe (apart from not having time to create the content for a presentation last week because I was ill) I hope to bring the discussion down from the abstract level into the individual context of the participants, where they are most likely to feel well equipped to reflect and exchange experiences and stories.

Hanging out with Henriette, Mark and Brian during the workshop day

Work Life Balance?
In the conversations during Elmine’s Birthday Unconference at the end of August we talked a lot about work-life balance. Basically I concluded some time ago that the whole work-life distinction has disappeared for me. I just do stuff. It used to be that work and the rest of life were separated by location and time. During work hours I would be at a certain spot, and when I wasn’t, I wasn’t working. That of course has all changed. I am somewhere, doing something, and time and location can no longer serve as boundaries to help me distinguish between aspects of my life in quite the same way.

Using our living room for meetings

The question became what kind of boundaries help me to be balanced in my activities and help me to experience flow (see how I avoid using work and life as opposites here)?
The week after Elmine’s Birthday Unconference I attended Dave Snowden’s Cognitive Edge seminar, about applying what we know about complex adaptive systems to organizational and work contexts.
There too boundaries are an important notion, next to attractors and barriers. Also in my work with the Future Workspaces consortium, flow and balance are frequently discussed issues.

Attractors, Boundaries and Barriers
So I have taken thoughts, questions, ideas and key words from the output of Elmine’s Birthday Unconference and sorted them into attractors, boundaries and barriers, and those that seem to fall between two of those categories.

The lists below are transcribed from this photo

Attractors (or things that I think will improve my flow):

Owning my learning path
Fun tools (flow is fun)
— Create my Digital habitat
Casual transparancy
Into productivity because I am lazy
— Planning is energy conservation
— Acquisition
— Production
— Development
Events/choosing events
— That inspire me
— That help me commercially
— That make me better visible to my network
Surplus energy
— Choosing where to spend it or not
In what places do I want to be? In terms of:
— Financially
— Bridging Academia and Business
— Recognition
— Research
— Physically
New routines
— Effect of complexity
— Information strategies

Boundaries (or things that I think help me to stay in flow):

Self reflection on current boundaries
Law of 2 feet
— On value
— On meaning
Value in my system
Places as boundaries
— where to work
— where not to work
Constraints for creativity
Knowing when to stop

Between Attractors and Boundaries (things that may be an attractor or a boundary):
Attention giving
Obligations outside-in vs quality inside-out
(Dis)connecting from spheres selectively

Between Boundaries and Barriers (things that may be a boundary or a barrier):
100% mobile productivity is a myth
— assumed expectations of others
What is it I get paid for?

Barriers (things I think impede my flow):
Blurred boundaries
Work as a job is a 19th century concept
Communication style resulting in more work/promises
Not communicating
— Boundaries, expectations, terms of acceptance
Hating must/should
Own thinking makes things urgent
Stress sources
— Macro / over contexts
— Micro / within contexts

Me working on the train. Photo: Elmine, license CC BY NC SA

This is thinking in progress so I am nowhere near conclusions yet. I have changed part of my routines already though. I have been playing around with place: not using my laptop for serious work on the couch. Only allowing myself to work on e-mail or simple stuff (like uploading pics) at the dinner table, all other laptop based activities taking place in our home office. But that’s just a piece of what might become a larger set of different notions about my activities.