At CeBIT, bright students seek answer to online stress
Mar 3, 2009, 19:12 GMT
Hanover, Germany - In a demonstration of high-speed 'design thinking,' teams of academics were racing Tuesday at the CeBIT computing show in Germany to find ways to ease the stress for today's internet-connected people.
Staff and students of the Hasso Plattner Institute, which trains software designers in Potsdam, near Berlin, and Palo Alto, California, are to be given a succession of tasks all week, with each to be solved in 24 hours.
Day One was devoted to the combatting the stress of being 'always on,' with news, e-mails and work demanding attention from internet- connected people through all the hours of wakefulness.
After one hour of brainstorming with half a dozen colleagues at a big worktable, jotting sketches on whiteboards, student Friedrich Grosse-Dunker was asked what direction they had taken.
'We try to avoid locking onto a direction,' he said, but added that it seemed likely the team would evolve an idea on how to keep work and leisure apart.
'Often people are not very efficient because they can't manage to concentrate on work only or leisure only,' he said. 'It comes down to a lack of self-discipline, so we are thinking we might devise tools to help with self-discipline.'
The Plattner laboratory has been set up in a lofty gallery, overlooking a CeBIT pavilion where companies below were demonstrating strange and wonderful computers which can be controlled by rolling your eyeballs or swivelling your head.
Plattner, the institute's founder, who became immensely rich through SAP, the German company that makes software for businesses, showed up Tuesday to cast a fatherly eye over the students and professors as they showed off as their brainpower.
The idea was to demonstrate to the general public at CeBIT in Hanover how the innovation process works, institute spokesman Hans- Joachim Allgaier said.
During the six-day fair, multidisciplinary designer teams will work all day in public view at CeBIT. When evening comes in Germany, they will hand over the task to a similar team in Palo Alto, California, where day is breaking.
'When the CeBIT pavilions re-open in the morning, the solution will be put on display,' Allgaier said.
He added that this 'common processing over a geographically vast space' was an example of what CeBIT organizers call the 'world wide web society' or 'webciety' for short. 'Each problem must be jointly solved in exactly 24 hours by the people in Hanover and Palo Alto.'
The institute has campuses at Stanford University and in Potsdam, the city of palaces and parks on the outskirts of Berlin. CeBIT, running March 3-8, is a major trade fair devoted to software and computer components.