In the same way that mediums matter for content (why are there no good FinTwit YouTube channels?), mediums matter for work too.
Much work is information exchange. The internet repairman comes to your, now home, office to install a better modem and upgrade the internet plan. The internist diagnosis that ‘thing’. The teacher teaches.
A group of researchers wondered how virtual chess might lead to different decisions. It is still chess; sixty-four squares, four rooks, two kings, but it is a different medium.
During the COVID-19 pandemic there was the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. The researcher wrote:
> “We use this event to compare the performance of the participating players to their performance in recent editions of the World Rapid Chess Championship as organized by the World Chess Federation in a traditional offline setting. Both tournaments are organized under comparable conditions, in particular giving players the same amount of thinking time during a game, and offer comparable prize funds.”
Researchers compared each of the 27,000 move across 441 games to the Stockfish 11 engine and found that while the number of mistakes was about the same, the quality of the mistakes was worse (16.8% to be exact).
One way digital work will be different than in-person work will be in how we interact with technology. For example, many writers print their words to proofread their work. They noticed differences in a different form.
Jason Blum and Rory Sutherland both work in creative fields and note the importance of a confidence boost–which is hard to do virtually. In his op-ed, Jerry Seinfeld wrote that New York City will bounce back, that broadband isn’t enough to do the same work. Why? “Energy, attitude, and personality cannot be ‘remoted’ even through the best fiber optic lines.”
In the same way we might leave early if an upcoming drive is through a notoriously congested area, we should adapt our decisions, interactions, and intentions as we WFH.
Here’s the suggestion: When working virtually try to be 20% nicer, more supportive, and more cautious. There’s a psychological heft that’s lost in our virtual interactions.
Hey, you read the whole post, want more? I’ve got a new pay-what-you-want pdf. It’s a handful of ideas from Tyler Cowen about thinking like an economist. It’s here. It’s twenty-seven minutes ideas.