Human mash-ups under emergence

The term “mash-up” is now widely used in media and technology. Bringing together many different technologies that are connected to form a new application is not new, but what is different today is that its all done based on open standards. Where does it leave the human? Can we realistically evaluate the human’s role in corporates without looking at the holistic human-technology ecosystem?

Organizations use three mechanisms to execute processes namely; human only execution, human assisted by technology, and totally automated execution. The human is largely marginalized in activities that are repetitive and mundane. Our obsession with automation focuses on these kinds of actions first. This means that we try to move the human to more humane activity where thinking and reasoning is needed. Fastcompany’s Danielle Sacks wrote “…bring together a mash-up of interesting thinkers…” in her entry called From Hip-Hop to Geek Wisdom.

Separating human activity from technological tooling could result in major performance issues for high-performing organizations. Lets take an example; you got given a spreadsheet with some calculations that assist you in determining the risk of investing in real estate. You could either make the assumption that the source was correct and trustworthy or try to understand the reasoning used in the model. Realistically if you are under time pressure to understand the model it becomes a technology problem (you have to know the tool that used to understand how it was used)…

The “human mash-up” (check this conference dedicated to the topic) is the integrated and connected world of human-human, human-technology-human and technology-human-technology connectivity. We are often identified by our mobile phone numbers, e-mail addresses, passport number, social security, bank account number, customer number, credit card number, etc. This integrated holism is now so pervasive that the modern human cannot live without it.

Take another example; on my recent trip to Paris (France), became my one-stop travel technology solution. You want to see where hotels are, public transport, great sites to see, photographs of the area, weather forecast, interesting people, maps and routes created by other people, and so on… This mash-up of different information overlays and then the links to make reservations for accommodation, travel, etc is only at its infancy; its under emergence.