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Time to get used to usability (24 Jun 2005)
Basically, we're not very good at getting people to work together in teams, and we're not very good at encouraging respect among the different disciplines who come together to form these teams.

There's a major project on distributed working taking place within the collaborative Cambridge-MIT Institute.

David Good from the CMI talked about their findings so far, and the difficulty of ensuring that people who are working together actually understand each other and appreciate the value that other professions bring to projects.

He's optimistic that solutions exist to the bigger problems, but I've worked in enough teams, some distributed, some not, to be rather more sceptical about their chances.

The image that stays with me from the day came from half-way through Prof Clarkson's presentation when he showed us a video of a middle-aged man trying to open a sealed plastic packet of fish with only his hands.

There was a little tab that you can pull to open it, but it was slippery and too small to be gripped.

The plastic was too tough to be pierced with a finger. It started off funny, and rapidly became tragic as the frustration levels built up.

In the end we stopped watching and moved on, but Prof Clarkson warned us that "it goes on a lot longer".
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