Pragmatic 23: Maximum Erasability

2 June, 2014


What is it about WhiteBoards that makes them so invaluable as a collaborative design tool? John is joined by Seth Clifford of Nickelfish to explore the reasons why.

Transcript available
Welcome to pragmatic pragmatic as a weekly discussion show, playing the practical application of technology exploring the real-world trade-offs we look at how great ideas are transformed into products and services that can change our lives nothing is as simple as it seems this episode is sponsored by when frog studios visit wet from to get in touch and take it manage of a special offer for the Apple icon and logo design service lucidly to pragmatic listeners I am also about them or during a show on your host John Geagea and I'm joined today by my guest hosts Seth Clifford Hayden South Deer Lodge you I am doing very very well thank you and is arm I let you pick as is now what's becoming the the way of one run the show I'm letting my guest hosts peak the topic so what topic we can talk about data are set about wakeboard's wakeboard technology and anything associated with rating rating starts mind mapping sharing the awesome so it was there any particular drew you to this topic arm as I mentioned before we started recording our I was terrified to even dip into some of the more technical subjects as much as I would like to listen to themselves arm wake boarding and that kind of sketching is something that we give the office agree dealers retire thinking to product design and helping clients visualise the kind of stuff that they're trying to bring to life and I think it was proudly something I could step into pretty easily and have a decent amount of our contribution to the ER conversation awesome call up from my point of view the reason I have listened first place is because it is an integral part of what I do and in as an engineer and we use, I wonder how many people have work in an office environment where this collaboration that don't use a whiteboard pie I got to think that that actually the numbers are that that would actually be very small number of people who didn't so I think is what I sort of edged energy edge topics where it's worth talking about but no one seems to talk about so we'll just I visitors diving them yet it's a relatively ubiquitous fixture in pretty much every office I've ever been to but it is one of those things it does feed into the background because I think at this point people in those environments just taken for granted as this is a thing in every conference room and in some people's offices that we use and it's just there you are like chairs desks and a window really just you just assume it's going to be there at all at this I will get to something later on where there were no whiteboards and I was furious but we had that minute and all the time so first of all is the bottom line is so it's all about writing down information but I don't want to I want now the definition otherwise will be to about pens and paper and you everything else so just the definition we start with this little walk down memory lane here are about what exactly am getting at I'm getting a device where information can be quickly and flexibly drawn and modified for the purposes of a group discussion for collaboration and collaborative purposes and saw maybe for learning purposes so I'm not interested in permanent writing am not interested in printing methods are ending our stuff like that maybe is another episode but not this time so real simple way back in the beginning it all started with dirt at least I figure it did ask someone drawing in the dirt is left finger but the problem with that is that it's flat on the ground so document you can see it maybe a dozen people could crowd around or something were you planning to attack the other tribe on the other side of the hill God knows what you drawing anyway you maybe they moved onto sticks and does all the more precise but still the same damn problem are so as you move forward into more recent memory is a more recent's there were reports in the 11th century in India that they were using black and grey slates with that with chalk in order to actually draw and you can then use a sponge or cloth to wipe it off to a raisin and start again because you can hold that up and is a little bit more collaborative and a sexy wet expression now wipe the slate clean all you starting with a clean slate as when it came from is the idea of the the black or grey slate the base drawn that are by the timing of the 1930s or so they can fill our use people switch to you things were cheaper and you more readily available like pencils paper ballpoint pens and so on but it had that that's really going down the road in my goat hours more permanent written but hanging it up on the wall is a collaborative tool arm that depending what country you come from either is called a chalkboard or a blackboard and the funny thing is when I was growing up in Australia it was always called a blackboard but when I would watch TV because we get a lot of your US TV over here and have done for quite a while are they would refer to as a chalkboard my sister took me a little few times of hearing it's understandable that the same thing that's up in any case the first recorded use that I could find was in the 16th century and it was in Europe is primarily being used as a tool for musical composition which I guess you kinda make sense maybe over rock early classical kind. I suppose our buy in any case and all it is was at that point was a super-sized pieces slate and it was originally actually made from slate as in the rock but later on that was made from a variety of different materials and just painted black citizens smooth surface are just painted with black paint but the thing that was strange for me when I was growing up is that they are transitioning away from black paint and a switch to green paint during the mid to late 20th century because Green provided better contrast against the chalk was so-called easier on the eyes I guess Ono arm white on black was to a name I'm not exactly sure thereby if they did and an analysis to figure out that was actually the case but for whatever reason they went green and it confused me as a kid because were our lives, write the blackboard says the teacher and half of the role maybe was half didn't count them I suppose but all the all the blackboards and or chalkboards in our school are roughly half of them or thereabouts for black paint and the other ones were green so I distinctly remember one time in class I would have our grade 5 or six and you know being having been a smart asked most of my life I pointed out the teacher when he said he was going drawn of the blackboard that it was in fact a green board didn't actually really go that will go down that well unfortunately but you but I felt compelled to point out that it was not a blackboard anyway might was a mistake so funny thing is though by the time I got to the later part of high school whiteboards are coming as that was the early 90s and worth, got university there were the old lecture theatres had arm blackboards chalkboard screen boards whatever boards but almost every other building were whiteboards and some of the old ones they were retrofitted so the old theatres by Tommy been there to 3 years they'd switched whiteboards and I don't know if you see me things and upper but the old-style ones of the police and you literally you pull down are a set of vertical runners and there are some ropes and it was weighted and you had to 2 wards and one was mounted front what was recessed slightly and you would you slide one of his did you come across a year we were wearing challenge unseen times am very familiar with those here and I just aced to remember that the yard than the massive noise that they made and sometimes I get stuck in the lectures I Gets the thing that I threw me was when the professor would be raiding quickly and then switch the board's and that would continue raiding and I hadn't got up and then would switch them and keep raiding over the stuff that I had not yet in age yeah well I guess I can do well in this class are not yet I used to be such a fast hand rider you know and then I finished uni and I just switched completely to typing and I'm useless I have trouble signing my name I used your hands that is they cramp so easily have given up on yes it's a very strange that when your buddy ceases to do one activity as as constantly as something like hand raiding how quickly the skill atrophy is its absolutely and add the thing is that uni was so much to write exercise right and everything absolutely because I don't know when that little note on the side of the verb borders can be useful in an exam or your yellow and yeah I know to me because sometimes a date with the boards about the weighted cut off the last few lines what would look at them I the bad old days mind you I'm glad I have to go back done one degree and I'm done happy happy with that situation anyway so back on topic whiteboards were actually invented sometime in the 50s and 60s doesn't I couldn't find exactly when our arm and also I think it depends as a couple stories out there and you don't know if there actually are you like a modern myth or whether not there actually true but anyway so depending on if you believe the US of the UK story ultimately was somewhere in 50s and 60s arm and I ultimately the initial versions were wet arrays only so you meaning that there were no dry dry erase markers and so you need to go get them weighed in and wipe off and it was a pain in the neck so they didn't get buried they were very popular so wasn't really until the early 90s as I was saying when dry erase markers became cheaper more readily available most institutions replaced the chalkboards with whiteboards and all that is a whole bunch of different reasons given including oddly I found this as a reason was chalk is noisy is it really that noisy in because sometimes if you hold that pain pretty pretty tight against the service free how you serve the ball down it does make a really annoying sound you in anyway so apart from that the main reasons are cited for doing that were dust because a lot of these rooms were being air-conditioned dust would get in through the room go through the air-conditioning and you can always tell the difference between a lecture theatre that had the blackboard still in it because it is had that sort of talk is little better smell so it bugged me but maybe there were people that had allergies or problems are and maybe hours causing issues for them I don't know if that's real or if it was imagine because I know that in the 80s and 90s as SPI everything is causes of people allergic reactions in and people with peanuts arm allergies and positive analogies it was it was becoming more well-known was up until that point at least that was my interpretation on the other possibility maybe was always well-known and I just only found out about at that time my life may be that it just seems to be that there is a lot of stuff going on with no allergies and people learning more about those issues so in any case real or perceived by throughout chalkboards and they went with a whiteboards so there you go so that brings us up to okay yea we were using whiteboards lovely boats are the thing about the thing about whiteboards is now a little bit of history is what you use and for and maybe this is obvious or maybe this isn't but it's what I things that you can use them for anything but they are so great for collaboration but a lot of people that I've worked with still can't stand them and the whole bunch of reasons why but before I get into that I recently was in a situation where someone was advocating butcher paper now I'm not sure if that's a local arm term will not suffice butcher paper do not augment your talking well when I would assume it only about is the very wide grounds once a. A butchers rat median is that the act yes yes exactly but normally would do as you're by itself was like a knife like a foot flip paper so think of it like it's got a wax binding along the top and you bite in a large very large sheet similar sizes of of actual butcher paper wrapping your butt so you you write on it and its honour usually it stands on on like an easel and you hook it over a couple of hooks on the top and you right over top anemone finished you can literally tear it off, like a you know those notepads that have got the wax binding the top you any right to the bottom deterrent often you can do whatever you do at me I hate those things because once a term often get disconnected and they get lost yards in those kinds of things like GI notepads on easels and conference rooms to and yet they always seem to me and even silly thing we had we would use it by seemed far less flexible than in our diaries of any kind and it also seemed like pain of the company was acquiescing to the fact that he needed something in that room with it and really want to spring for a wakeboard exactly exactly BC is a thing that struck me know recently though is that I had a senior engineer Haggai must be in late 50s and I had another people listening as ours is an age thing maybe it is I know but you know what he was saying whiteboards are terrible any less a whole bunch of reasons why is it note this this stuff is butcher paper notices the good stuff this is the stuff you should use and his arguments were you can tear a page off and then you can put up on the wall because the walls of got that some are not sure the technical term is for open sky like Cork is not Cork but it's similar to caucus are not a foam either but it's like a soft war material that can handle a pushpin being used and you can then take the butcher paper couple pushpin is and you put up on the wall and he said that that was better because a you could unlike a whiteboard you can't just attach it and then put around the room if you write something on it you can put on the wall and you can keep writing more and put it next to it whereas a whiteboard once you've done with that you gotta wipe it off and it's gone great that was his first RSA commandment was once you've had done of the meeting you can collect up all the bits of butcher paper and then take them back to your desk in type up proper notes or whatever you want to do that makes sense to me in that you would want to preserve what you're reading because we've all probably run into the situation where you come to the end of the wakeboard healing okay had can can I take this off now either releasing this plate as far as preserving it I discussed the habit of photographing the weight words and then referring to the photographs when I would go in the dark intention or anything like that I was there was an easy enough solution for me but I you you see is .2 I guess my problem with it is that justice on the issue hanging around the room so for starters you not all rooms have got that kind of wall arm you have kind of wall second thing if you don't have push pins and there would some meeting rooms didn't have any you find them are because honestly stationary cupboards are what they used to be the mean they just in the last 20 years I've just seen that that they had they had good stuff and it just seems to be dwindling now and you want things like push pins and are easily used with his alarm was like a lot of psychological T and it was like a stabbing pen I now describe gosh that's out so that technical note that sounds I got that's terrible okay I'll get back to you lessons about what the heck it's really cold anyway nevermind but you to see how good stationary is hard to find his days burning so well as I ISO if you can't enter pushpin is then what you resort to what sticky tape I suppose masking tape or duct tape even maybe if you're in a glass office a glass conference which I've been in plenty of times you can take any job there exactly so that needs to also be in the room with the butcher paper otherwise you can't use that the and the other issue that I've got is that you are taken back to your room is the not exactly portable if you got 56 710 of these having a big meeting attended these pages up on the wall that takes up a lot of space your Pall Mall down and fold up nicely and not rip them all whatever and then you go back to desk was massive white paper any destiny you hold out what with one hand while you transcribe it I mean I don't start talking about you because recording all the people in you that sort of thing exactly our dear me so anyway the funny thing was I don't and and don't get me wrong I don't I don't object to the idea of butcher paper I think it's a great concept it can work in certain situations but I have a problem with it for one big reason and that is it is not erasable you and this is that this is what I think makes whiteboards chalkboards so powerful is that they are maximally erasable you can you can wipe out whatever you want very quickly and modify and edit rows of you're stuck with a format with using permanent ink of any kind on any surface once you write it in today you want to get rid of it I mean on butcher paper what your options you across something out you end up rubbing it out like sorry you're not pending over the top and of course CAD too much pending over the top and then the West in the paper was then in the new wearing through the next layer and then you get yelled at by the next person because the next layer butcher papers got a bunch of black splotches on rate this thing this is exactly why my my romantic affection for people is weaning because the way that I think does not translate very well to what I want to put on paper when I'm sketching interface screens are just ideas and cunning in attaching things other things I have had many many different new books I've had all kinds of really great little sketching things that I've tried to use and what I was compacting now since it's a lot more feasible is that I will drive in and out iron in a whatever tablet I have handy because the way that I think does not lend itself to the permanence of paper and as much as I love that activity and rating in a notebook and having a notebook and being like this is my number I think and I'm think and rethink things so quickly that are going to sketching on tablets because it's much easier to work through the problem and that this is exactly why the wakeboard solution works to offer some people and then from me as soon as I'm done if I like what I have echoes directly into Avenue and at the end of it and I can revise it if I need to buy its it's preserve its reference and then in our I feel like I had the flexibility that it afforded you that's actually really good point and something that arm I did definitely is worth mentioning because I've been thinking just what you mention that about what I've been doing with my spiral-bound notebooks see in my eye I had nice say in engineering like a specialty amenities and insofar as there are lots of industries where this is the case but when you are held under scrutiny so if you screw up the design and someone gets injured or this litigation the notes you take on a day-to-day basis are had can have legal consequences they can become evidence in court cases and so on so in engineering like I said I'm sure lawyers are similar in this propeller professions but our medicine as well I imagine the point is that in engineering I have to keep my spiral-bound notebooks are for up to 10 years release as a suggestion so I think back to 10 years ago and I was filling up a spiral-bound notebook with 96 pages probably in about eight or nine months of just of handwritten notes and we were banned from using yellow stickies and because you you you write your sticky and you put that on your monitor which I did once and someone decided I used to video stickies and they came in one why anyone wanting my computer my was covered in yellow sticky notes some people just anyone at well just what I completely covered and these were the big sticky note these are the little ones know you are such a waste of good stationary but anyway nevermind that point is was a while ago Mimosa remember that anyway was I talking about you write up so this spiral-bound notebooks so I religiously get one whenever I start a new company I get a new spiral-bound notebook just thought about I've been working with this company than with now on and off for about 12 months ended so that we started contracting for them and now mostly working for them but I went work to accompany the meantime it's all very convoluted and boring and off topic but the point is that either one notebook when I been at this company for 12 months now and it is barely 1/4 full rate and the reason why is exactly what you just described is that I've started using software on my Mac or on my iPad or even my iPhone for taking notes to sketching things all those things you just described I'm doing the same thing it's I can foresee a time in the next five years where I just give up on the notebook but on the DO spiral-bound notebook so and that's great for like personally I'm taking notes and CRM flashing out ideas but from a collaborative point of view I guess someone will would go look at back down that down that path but before we do are just what quickly talk about our sponsor for this episode and the that is wet from studios so selling a business or an app is a lot like selling a house you can take a huge amount of time and money redecorating greenhouse up to scratch and modernising it into great photos build a great website show the house offered if there is one piece missing that can stop buyers remember walking through the door and that's curb appeal people say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but frankly where human and most of us actually do when we met or not and people do the 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used as an instructional tool for groups of people because it is visible in a large large rooms great radio lecture theatres for teaching and so on and is guiding it wonderful for that that the big big plus for me as it is easy and is quick to raise information and redraw it and that makes it ideal for group discussions where information and ideas are sketched quickly and modified quickly and as I said before it's about having maximum arrays ability because if you make a mistake real quick and mean sometimes not even reach for the eraser your disused family finger or party a part of your hand whatever it is to scrub out quickly right again so I think it's really really good for project planning scheduling and so on brainstorming is another really good use and something that you talked about little briefly and I guess I'm curious if you do use it this way but what I've done with so for example most of my visual design I'm doing in my line of workers with starter systems so what I will tend to do is use the whiteboard are up within a group of the B key stakeholder stakeholders sorry go management the SBS bingo on you debit you the key stakeholders anyway and I'll do the visual layouts of the screen is how I want the screens to interact with each other so the layout of the adverse link goes this screen is that screen you know this is what the valve look like roughly here and so on and I start as a very basic wireframe sketched on a whiteboard get everyone to be relatively happy with it before we then go to the next stage and time and effort of doing a proper visual mockup using software and SO otherwise I use IMAX curious how how you use them in at the nickel finish you wheeze them in all kinds of ways we know it it's a staple of a conference room because a lot of times will end up happening is will be talking about something and we can cut a sense that what we are seeing isn't being passed fully and just by taking your advice in Canada throwing them up there as words even just even just tax not even pictures arm and it helps people who aren't familiar with software development start to come around and visualise what it is that you're trying to convey to them we do a light of arm workflows and flowcharts and things like that to show people you gave Gardner's platform that you want people to use so you need to have a large instead and once the lug in their power through this screen but in the background arm in your services layer is in a valley that they are a member and it's an ejector member ideas can do this and send you this and can you thousands and pass them do this screen with user sees there's an system side this is happening and it's a very very easy quick way to to convey in our technical and engineering things to them that they're not really thinking about because maybe many were talking to you in the business team and the marketing team and they need to talk to AT&T need to understand what's happening but just saying it is not enough and a were dark as night and work for them so if they can see a heavy user is seeing this but in the background services are doing this it helps them can have congealed that in their minds and and they're able to speak about it are more effectively more eloquently so we will artefact anything workflows we do exactly what you're talking about you know why refraining arm very quickly discover throwing elements of the screen together or an app just to give somebody an idea a lot of times it comes during early conversations with conceptual ideas were 70 comes as an idea for a nap and is a one you this this in their semi-go have you thought about this and I will what you mean by that will break to the board we started drying it was a well this is an app that currently exist in bother buying into this and that if you changed these elements on the screen you could achieve exactly what you want because now the user will be focused unless there is a net it's just a really really good way to take in an abstract concept that you know very clearly in your own mind you're trying to convey to this person who is in a very eager to understand it and just make it tangible to them absolutely our the thing is that an example I guess the thing for me is that it's it becomes an extension of your brain least thus, the way I see it is because you can use it to illustrate what you're trying to say and in some is better than using words magazine same is true of any kind of drawing because it's very easy and quick to do art and of course it is easy to work to modify either I think it's perfect for that and is the thing is though we were before our collaborative tools but I also have had a personal whiteboard and obviously nice not is as big as of one large meeting room but it's still really handy because I find it better than Post-it notes because while honestly it's a bit is more environmentally friendly I know this sounds a little bit tree huggy but the age through media you you go through any right a scrap of paper in your note on their and let's say that note is call back Bob well once you call Bob back later that day hopefully the next day what you do it crumpled up and throw in the bin see one of the problems also in the beside tractor or quickly is that you in a lot of companies that I've worked for auto hangup at home we have multiple rubbish bins so we've got a rubbish bin you can put our sorry I should say trashcan arm… But anyway the point is you've got one for your recyclables including paper and you've got one for everything it's not recyclable now this is not a new thing this has been around for a long time and people recognise that it's a good idea to recycle now do you think that most big corporations have got separate bins they give you one bin if you're lucky some people have to use a cardboard box that they've salvaged from the photocopy revenues to hold you reams of paper and that's the rubbish bin you know there is no separate bin so you scrub one of these fees are paid boarding and Julia put in the bin and then then I can get recycled but if you whiteboard you make a note the whiteboard you done it when you done with a new call back Bob or whoever is rubbing off the lover here I am very sensitive that staff at I realise that it does sound kind of hand Renée occasionally by any any little thing that you can delete that any any personal effort I think is is fine if it makes you feel better than find you in adult some people can just rate a thousand pieces of paper in through the mountain at the end of it and some companies agreed about recycling and that sometimes the encounter wherever you are new mandates that you get about recycling but I then plenty of places where there are recycling bins I watch them get dumped into one trash receptacle so it's laying off really okay so I guess that's not something we need to concern ourselves with late I think you are getting back to Racine earlier something you touch no Monica there is something about the speed at which you can put a fight down are unto the diaries surface that I think is so appealing I think it takes a little baby this is probably splitting hairs but it feels to me to take less time to put it on a whiteboard than it does to drive on a piece of paper and that could be because if I was drying on a piece of paper knowing that it's permanent or semipermanent I'm going to slow my physical action ever so slightly to make sure that I do a rate because I'm one of those people who heads scribbles on racing and stuff like that whereas on a whiteboard I would do a quick innovating like it about my thumb do it again and then the other thing that it lends itself is I may put my side up there very quickly and get the person trust people to see Ya but if I'm reading a piece of paper with that doesn't inspire is that person to get up and walk around to the other side of the table take the mark go what about this and then they have allowed me to think about something in a completely different way in a matter of seconds because they fell socially are okay with the notion of coming over and modifying my drying on this cortical public art sketching surface as opposed to like my personal number you absolutely and and going back to the whole idea of its it's much larger it's up front a group of people than the opportunity exists for a lot of people to do that whereas if you're sketching on a notepad the number of people can actually see what you've sketched is significantly reduced so I find that that that sort of approach works for maybe two people are maybe three but once you've got more than that and that is often you what you're having a lot of these sorts of meetings you the whiteboard is the best way to go and I absolutely agree is it's something about the speed of it it it the the barrier seems significantly lower and that makes collaboration so much easier and there is an element of low fidelity with the people don't feel pressured to go up there and sketch dryer rate something that is appealing to everyone they are understanding implicitly I see this at my head so you can see what I'm seeing you absolutely absolutely right and I think is also limited thing about a whiteboard is that I think a lot of people more forgiving about you either sometimes when I one of us gets things I'm not on them artists is not and dumb I can't pay sketched from the to save my life and in my stick men don't really look much like stick men but there is a sort of an implicit you it's get up there sketch something it doesn't matter if it's not you have Picasso or van Gogh or whatever it just gets the idea across and there I think that there's a lot less pressure to get it right on a whiteboard and sort of medicine as unwritten rules by it's I can I just grab pain get your idea out DNS on the left 20×2 were this underestimated the social aspects of a meeting rate if you are needing internally with your team there is a comfort level there are that you know it establishes a rapport among team members and you can do what everyone with you now relative impunity in and everybody understands and is okay with it if you are meeting with in your team and to other teams in somebody else's IT department and now somebody else's business team and is the first time you've spoken you need to convey ideas clearly but also there is an element of Lake can't want to meet this collegial as much as past I want to make it relaxed because then while relaxing will be more productive year and a lot of times there's been a case where somebody has drawn something and said let's that's not actually dial that's actually now our observer and we are Louth and then you know that that that tension in the room let's get this rate is alleviated and everything seems to flow a lot more easily so there is a social pain of aspect to wait boarding as well and like you said terrible sketching artwork can often bring the ace in an otherwise weirdly tense situation that then affords everybody a lot more flexibility and relaxation can remove the ideas yet exactly and along those lines something else occurred and when you said that is that our inner meaning I'm not sure if you had this experience for most experiences I've had over and over and over is I've been a meeting where is the whiteboard is there and in all the depends daily razor is there but were talking through an issue and its orders were the same people talking back and forth back and forth back and forth and you just know that the messages and getting across like they're trying to describe something and they simply can't do it right with words and there and is like a building frustration or tension and then Summers is likely to sketched on the whiteboard and suddenly as a collective like relaxing sort of yeah good idea kind of error or psoriasis looks at the whiteboard now like right okay now that's my perception because the other perception could be arose going like a whiteboard but I don't I don't think it's that I do seriously honestly think maybe what to people like that but I think most people like you what yes please get on the whiteboard because words aren't working you know I think Ivan's answer yet not I was all guide notes as I think it depends on who you're in the meeting with Radin in the 20 people where let's go to the whiteboard really does mean now I'm going to bore you to tears with my visual depiction of the things I can convey bit in a comes down to Z who is now who is presenting his parking if you have somebody who is animatedly describing idea that they're passionate about people just don't getting it in a moving to the Weight Watchers means let me help you see this the way I'm seeing it and it's the same with PowerPoint rate we do keep abilities presentations for new clients and we use keynote RBC keynote looks and works really great for what we want to deal I we really prior ourselves are not just doing slides with words like one wheel presentation we are talking for ED to 90% of it because it's about a conversation is about ideas and here are the things that we deal how can we help you it's not look at the work that we have done slight and you know as a country the whiteboard as the extension of your idea and night the way that people treat in our slides and presentation religions put things up there and expect you to read them I think that contact is established best done with the presenter and the person is parking so I can easily see it going both ways and have but it doesn't necessarily need to be okay now let's do this thing it in very often is as you described the the release of attention the okay now were going to get a because even if we don't get it immediately we moved to this new medium because conversation is not working at the same thing with your recent emails to people and I try very hard to send Gerd effective in a brief emails by people read them however they can read them you know in their office with the context of their day and their stress and it's sometimes easy to pick up the phone and have a conversation for 30 seconds so I think the way porters that seem cunning jump from not getting it let's go here that email to the phone as much as a absolutely detest using the phone it sometimes is about yeah those are really good points and I honestly think that maybe one day we should compare notes on the on presentations and stuff as I think that that is that it be worth exploring that you are but some gear we both done a lot of presentation so anyway okay well I want us to move down to the next the next stage of this discussion which is the sort of problems with white was visibly would be going on gushing about how amazing and wonderful they are but there are some drawbacks and I guess the first foremost you did talk about already and sort of alluded to this earlier one of the downsides of what was you can't take it with you razor when you've yet when you draw much stuff up what he can do and as you said you take a photo of it and yet that's great and I been doing that for years now but I have thought about it when he said that I had never talk about anyway but what been thinking about is I wonder when that started because I don't think it started until smart phone cameras or cameras with phones are so while as the cameras phones and no phones with cameras in them till they became a bit more ubiquitous because I had a Nokia and 73 which had a 3.2 megapixel camera I think memory serves that was in the Medes noughts somewhere in there 040506 at pre-iPhone anyway but it wasn't until then that I started doing that because you didn't just have a cameraready desk at work it is you didn't but now everyone has a phone and every phone has a camera so if you take a photo of it like you said it's better than carding butcher paper back to your desk folded five times in your making a big mess yet that's exactly when I story doing it was when I had a smart phone that had a halfwit is a camera that a inner can use and then refer to later probably around the iPhone 3G 3GS is is when you started doing this in earnest on two megapixel sided dinner at the two mega pixel camera on the original iPhone I found you could get away with it in a pinch but if it wasn't like really closely and in everything was in frame I found that it was a bit too grainy sometimes other words you so that there is like in the habit of taking like two vertical shots of the board to try getting closer you don't do about people here AR II will do that frequently in our I'll do the end of the meaning if we normally used the one board I sing other people stand up and do the same thing late I seen three or four people taking pictures of a wakeboard at the same time because there is a calloused others do this because Mike my phone is here that I have my own copy of it arm in terms of it being transitory and if you have to a reason then go back to the start you just you just tell the person writing a hang on a second before you arrest that another picture okay feel free to do whatever you can view our emails to everybody needing to worry about it really is night that much of a stretch to say all this really is in trouble just documented before it goes away into the ether forever but what I usually do is even as confident as I am in the capabilities of my phone camera peak at several shafted at the Celtic Lake are individual shouts of late quadrants of the board like I'm gonna stitch them together leader in photoshop something and what I usually do is in turn my phone 90° and take a couple washouts just to make sure that I got every corner in every age because you know you really going you can rate made up to the edge of the board and one a mixture of those little notes that are very clear in the conference room when you're standing there that we get back you desk in your reviewing and you need those little bits to help clarify things that you actually captured everything you are icy farmers of doing the same thing especially with the bigger boards and I guess the thing is well these days storage is cheap you need to take five 1015 photos of the whiteboard he wanted and it is still a space for plenty more so young so why not write in any dispute the best ones because our I'll I'm a couple times I know I've done it and I haven't taken enough and one of the mill while the ones I needed was blurry because I'd Mike my hand moved slightly when it arrhythmia because these meeting rooms DO sometimes we work in a cave right so it's dark in therein their best I do exactly the same thing and the thing is though before that then I'm thinking well what did we used to do and of course you had people that used to transcribe down the notes which snow I guess not entirely defeating the purpose but to some extent it is a little bit so I when I was at Nortel are back in 97 and I don't know how long he's been out of the time that Robin out for about five or six years at that point and they were printable whiteboards that you would load a special thermal paper into and is the whole board is literally yellow Garth know-how describe as I get on track your two vertical our rounds schools one drives once a freewheeling school and there's a along scanner elements and all it does is it basically does a photocopy and shrinks it down into something it's roughly 8.5 x 11 or otherwise known as A4 or thereabouts of economics at the same size with the Costner and I submit a bid through that argument before the bigger the point is that it was this thermal paper and is having come across those wants now I actually haven't that's that sounds are properly want to play with a little bit but I'd still the pictures.note to believe me don't go there because people like the thermal paper wrong it does not come out properly get jams at the worst part the single worst part about it is it's thermal paper so what happens I have a desk by the window it's a lovely view in the summertime guess what you don't leave you thermal paper in the sun so I got the habit of doing after I got burned all literally the page got quite a quote burned by sunlight and I couldn't read any more because I hadn't taken transcribe the notes I was an intern at that point and I hadn't done my job very well clearly because I didn't realise thermal paper in the sunlight stupid me hey I was young point is arm under the habit of then taking that thermal paper and photocopying it and it was when she photocopy on a standard piece of paper it wouldn't fade she's spamming anything about like it is really good for the environment now wasted two pieces of paper anyhow so they were sort of the main staple in a lot of the corporate no meeting rooms but there was a big problem without a partner thermal paper and that is that they could they would go beyond a certain size because you are limited in how big you can make the whiteboard because it got too unwieldy to be able to condense down and printed onto a size of thermal paper that was well usable so they sort of I still come across them like as a building I do work at sometimes that still has a few of them in meeting rooms but the ones these days have now moved towards network connectivity which is call our course our USB input so you can put a thumb drive in their five USB sticks unravelling record are or if they're connected to ethernet or Wi-Fi than it is literally just a scanner doesn't say the same thing but it doesn't print onto a sheet of paper so you those are really good one but the last one I guess the pinnacle and of the physical whiteboards that I've come across other once the weather whiteboard is actually plugged into a computer or if it's not plugged into a computer directly it's indirectly plugged in are so some of them you can actually plugged the wipe herself into the can into the computer are other ones they actually connect into the projector and you run special software and there's like a sensor bar another BS and so on is a couple different ways of doing it but simplified or less to save plugs into a computer you run special software and there's essentially the two kinds there's the pen tracking kind that projects onto the board and there's the one that as you write on the board it's pressure sensitive and you rather like drawing on a Gaelic handwriting handwriting recognition sort of thing you are like a massive tablet are you it'll then try to draw that in the background for you so but you don't see it, computer screen like a sketching on iPad but the two are disconnected if that makes sense you but those things are my expense of those things that they are really well-intentioned and usually poorly executed because the hardware and software a handshake is night achieved as well you would help is the lag lag is a killer and those projected ones are we just a horrible and I had the very very old's original version it was a cutting-edge the manager of my manager at Nortel was there a 97 are met by the name of Rob McKenzie arm one of my favourite managers to be honest actually in my career so far here he got this brand spanking new are whiteboard and is it was a digital one and on the bottom it had these things that was shaped like they were actual arm dry erase markers but they weren't they had electronic cinnamon boundaries and so on and you are there were holsters that they were sitting and you had to put all the colours of four colours into the holsters and you took one out of the holster and waited for it to go Dean at which point it recognise you holding the red one but if you had two of them out once we got confuses which colour you are drawing with so I made that mistake if you desire in every dryer with two colours at the same time Ian well I guess but you what it's like if you store whiteboard you don't put it back in a prescribed location you just you have the red in one hand and the black and the other in your disorder like switch from one to the other is drawing different parts of the screen are a graft or whatever anyway so the point was okay it was cutting-edge in 97 but it was just yet like you say well-intentioned but just doesn't work and the ones of the projectors the lag is a killer so you'll be drawing on the screen and your pen will be a good forest 5 inches in some cases ahead of where the line is being projected on the screen so you know the whiteboard itself is actually not being marked its that the projector projecting onto the whiteboard is is what is drawing the line for you virtually seemed like a good idea at the time and on and down here is poison and they just don't seem to work very well I'm sure that people have tried also at this point in us getting on iPad and make error playing it to a larger display in the room bicultural and innately be fine if there's really only one person that needs to have the physical input to the device but it can't have reduces the collaborative ability of that in that exercise you absolutely our gradual letter because that's exactly the problem and so defeating the purpose a little bit of the whiteboard in the first place being a collaborative collaborative tool so it but Yami absolutely and on it's funny stated because of course yes arm I did hey I do have a guy in the current work with who is really big on his iPad and any can blame me for that because the avenues on iPad until I brought money in any cycle that looks really good boys want to try and iPad fast forward nine months is doing everything on his iPad is the I taste every bit he is now the iPad guide under slight to you wasn't me anyway arm but yes i.e. it's great really it's good to see that… You your you plug in the iPad into the projector and it just works and I've become so I'd restore that line from Apple but yet it does actually literally just one whereas you plug your Windows laptop in and you gotta do the special funky key combination to get to switch to the external display in the oscillators of mirrored is at best extended desktop searching for drivers searching for guests and secrets drivers at just that sort of thing okay so that's the whiteboards but I'm not done completely with whiteboards yet because I got some pet peeves and as I have to do mention these things irritate me nine so I had to start with the obvious one people that take the lead off of the dry erase marker and some of these dry erase markers have got a little arsenal of a divot saw whole in the in the back end of them we can then click the lead into it and then you don't have to hold the lid separately and then you go and draw the dry erase marker and is yellow then I'll stand out talk to you for five minutes and the leads not on the pen and appends drying out and use it and I sit there in the audience on like dam lid back on your talk for like 10 minutes put the lid on it but no they don't just leave the lid off I've even walked into a meeting room where the pen was left like that with the lid off for God knows how long this sounds like such a silly great but when you when you really examine it it's a fundamental failure in the technology rate they gave technology loosely because were talking about basically it flat in our physical scenarios that you describe limelight that is that's the weeks but rate that's the exotic work that were putting the two appeals in the blood of that story you waste words doesn't work if you don't have the markers to rayon and when you walk into the room and everybody is ready and it took three weeks to schedule this meeting and thank goodness everybody was able to attend and you start and you can even use the whiteboard nanometre starts now somebody is getting off I markers go to the other room we can go in that room because so-and-so is in their meeting and we can open the door does anybody have any market it's just terrible only in order now is so true it sends a and if you're in one of those meetings where it is people from outside your company is annoying enough when its people internally because I was like, just get this over with it's embarrassing quite honestly if you're trying to talk to someone from outside your company and your trying to project confidence in your abilities and your ideas annually we can even keep markers in a room that it it's you it's that it sets everything off at about absolutely and the time lost is also pain now is because then what happens is you you like you say you like about the other meeting rooms and I got a busy late and appends in them anyway strike out safe and then go to the arm stationery cupboard I was complaining that before I find is not in their so if you're a multistorey building then you try the next fluorometric you've gone this case file a 10 minute summer season and am whiteboard so that is one of my big pet peeves and I know chalk doesn't do that doesn't so so he will take the lid off and leaving off even 445 minutes at a time irritating as hell arm is the lighter coloured pens going over the top of the darker coloured pens and its it's a weird one is another one that bugs me so some will draw up in black are an image of whatever screen doesn't matter layout and then I'll say it is better colour so they'll get the green pan which is a much lighter colour and then I get a green pan and as their sketching the green panel crossed lines with the black and what is that do for the black then gets on the tip and it sustains the green tip the end result the tip is never green again it's sort of this is darkens horrible mess and you can go and have a look at the tips of these pans might well used to be green it started as light green and nominal it seems like a silly thing but you know what is so annoying especially look so hard for them green pan anyway what I mean what's the point of having multiple colours to depict things if you left with a muddled greenish black ash brownish mass you lose the ability to have the car drastically looking for any monies or just driving black you exactly and it's funny because arm I was in a meeting a few weeks ago when this happened and I was sitting back with my arms folded nice and made an audible grant you psycho you I didn't mean to make it but it was that Pepe go off inside me and the someone sort of was the next me turn instead arm you okay and I'm because of what you just come out my surgery and everything in the outcome people knew was going on another sort of medicine is wrong and what he just he crossed the stream is what are you talking about night pen cup 11 mine anyway so I have you ever come across a person that gets the whiteboard a raised fluid is usually a little squirt bottle and they'll go squirt squirt squirt all over the whiteboard and then I'll wipe the whiteboard clean but the thing is they do it every single time and not only that they usually will use the whiteboard eraser to rub it off when they're done now when you use this cleaning fluid space to be once every now and again it's not supposed be every time and space to get off the deeply ingrained dry erase market it's been on there for days or weeks and is hard to get off establish if not the whole whiteboard something you just drew 10 seconds ago and you sure as heck not supposed to be using the whiteboard eraser because that thing is a school absorb all that moisture and that destroys them the razor so you space to use it with the paper towels are ideal for that this was his paper towels have you ever save you seen a sprayer of Moses disturb a local thing now I'm very familiar with the spread smells terrible and the more you test the bigger headache you get it because it's because it gets moist right and once that Mark was the eraser is moist then what happens when you whiteboard you get this smear across it and you like God so yet go easy on the spray stuff and K less squirting anyway obvious one people take the markers in the eraser from one meeting room and don't return them when they done so annoying levels how dare they anyway and then you've got the classic do not raise or do not wipe off mir IK your notes from a meeting four weeks ago are more important than the hundreds of meetings are followed you write do not raise her she thanks so you take a photo you gone printed you leave it pinned to the wall and you are raise it and you leave a message saying what's that's the passive-aggressive per side of me coming out there but no associate usually just as a father document is a unit nurse not as an angry man as I clearly am neither delineating the trust makes hungry as I just want even bother with the passive part ago is full aggressively like cool okay arm so yet that whole thing leads into the next complaint which is people that leave things on their whiteboards for so long you can't clean them oddly easily days or weeks I receive is a meeting room that is more of a problem like said holding on a race thing ever zeroed your personal whiteboard using as a scratchpad and so on good ideas to clean every now and then otherwise you know that stuff will stick as a payment to get off then the final single biggest complaints and is becoming less of a problem these days because all we can get near stationery cupboard that is if they're there at all dry erase markers are the idiots that use a permanent marker well and no amount of that spray will get that off you need to get the unity of something stronger like gum methylated spirits are alcohol something really strong unfortunately unfortunately we were forced to share a planet with people who cannot perform the simplest actions successfully so I cannot until until we can manage that and have to contend with something that is a little longer I know enemy either as I'm complaining about these things these are the epitome of first world problems so I'm a cop cognisant of that but still anyone it's working in a corporate environment or an environment that has meetings in whiteboards I think and relate so in any case I guess enough about real whiteboards is what I wrap this up by talking a little bit about Internet-based or software-based alternatives because obviously collaboration tools don't have to be physical and these days but in for example you your America in Australia we have listed all around the world people that's actually do work on a day-to-day basis are especially on software it's so distributed and spread around the world that you getting a run into one physical room so-called pressing the flash which always whenever summons is an expression gives me strange imagery anyway arm I have anyway the point is that they get into a room is a recent rare thing so you I like W WC at the moment rightfully Apple fans the listening and I that's the big pilgrimage and sale which I shall believe you're going to write down had other cool, I'm jealous are we going to go someday but the point is that that's an opportunity to meet all these people that you would otherwise be collaborating with armed or talking to you from thousands of miles away so getting all people in a review is a physical whiteboard is impractical half while a lot increasingly is not practical so I haven't had a look around of course while start with some couple I just founded a web-based Internet-based are one of them is called scribbling another one is called real-time board but there are plenty of others out there problem with them is that you know their free ad driven again wasn't a problem what most corporations will not let you use them because you might put something commercially sensitive on their and they don't want you Bob's whiteboarding service online to have that commercial in confidence information so those of the sites a great to a point and then they see sort of you hit the wall especially if any corporate environment but there are plenty tools out there for doing what will collaboration where you can log into a website is no software to download or web-based and you can literally you are using your mouse you can you can sketch it's not as nice as sketching with a pen or your finger but from a collaborative point of view people can do it from multiple places around the world and that's what's powerful about so the more common one is in a corporate environment I've come across is Microsoft link and that's part of if you have via volume license office Mac in 2011 you do get that parts the whiteboard functionality isn't units in the Mac version is only the Windows version so that's fine if you're like me and you stuck in Windows corporate hell but if you nice arm and your Mac tough luck bites there is actually a web version of link that works in Firefox and Safari I think it also works in crime at according to the marks of website crime doesn't exist members angry Google whatever but yesterday from ER who isn't arm is a lot of again point is that our link is a wise way of doing that and it's a corporate's are based on you can hire is hosted on your own servers and everything and it's an extension of the of the office suite and you either I have actually used that very briefly are about a year ago and is in pretty good but the problem that I have with the whole virtual pen thing is who has the virtual pen and is when you're in a meeting room it's so easy go pick up a pen stand next to the board it's self-explanatory when you're at all corners of the globe not the same room well you you have to coordinate say find yourself kick can I draw something as little 'C go in up everyone they are you you finally take over and you as soon as it's a bit more pain as is no visual interaction with that having had any nose can say it's the hurdle with all remote collaborative communication rate everybody was from the conference call where people are talking or one another or you have disowned him on the quality of entries yourself every time you open your mouth basis at our age want to see global bar in its it's one of those things where there the presence the physical presence and innocent in a single room that everyone has when there are together in one physical location is its unapproachable inner for this kind exercises unapproachable virtually because even though everyone can see what's happening the the looseness of it the the arm that the natural kind of flow of ideas doesn't come in quite the same way so it may be fine if you have one person who is leading the discussion and sketching everybody else is kind of absorbing it that it it really ceases to be collaborative under seem level because of that that are the technical handoff that you have to do our account for you I think it leads to more back-and-forth it it slows down the iterative process I think you because like you said it works better if you got one person essentially funnelling the information and doing the marking up and I guess there is the out the equivalent in or in refusing physical whiteboard where you have one person drawing on the board but typically it is easiest that a person with the idea to get up and do the drawing themselves so yeah and at least the whole back-and-forth problem which is okay send you a draft of what I think and then you've sent that off maybe four hours later they sent off to you and you look at me like I was not quite what I meant that you can mark it up and send it back to them and then you you collaboration is just become a back-and-forth discussion which takes longer and is more convoluted we still get there in the end usually it's so much easier if you're on the one room mate you are not always I haven't had any real experience with using those tools for allow the reasons that you imagined earlier that the corporate environment thing we do a lot of work with corporate clients and their edges when you cross the mind he is something like that if it were not in the room on the way board there that we know we would be putting up the schematics and things that were drying anywhere public edges would be allowed no extra and are having on the corporate network are is something that you can do but you that if you bought in to the whole Microsoft philosophy I am sure that arm you get some feedback after the show about people saying old is this a business is the service and I should like to hear that a few people have used our good our online whiteboard like collaborative tools I think that would be great and I'd like to do a bit of a follow-up on that at some point but otherwise I'm aware of for whatever reason they don't seem to be very popular and I imagine that it suggests go, similar to the digital whiteboard is well-intentioned but in reality doesn't seem to work quite that well so I guess some glads out there that it's not something that is at a stage where I would I regularly use and that that time when I was using link that was once I was a year ago and that's it I have never used the sense prior or sense so it just isn't catching on lease not my line of work anyway then in my line of work people still obsessed with wetting signatures so you know what more can I do is not your signature unless you sign up with a real pen has to be the right colour of ink seriously I'm so sick you use it wet where a paperless society right yes sure who was an idiot said that an SO I could print my drawing all document I got a sign in a box in the front and if there is a change in the document company through a change note of gross initial next to the change if I'm doing a document review of the highlight the ones I accept the ones I reject and then initialled them with a pen and if I don't.control document control will reject the document and say I'm sorry that your changes do not conform with the standard procedures and practices you have to go and do it properly so that was about 15 years of corporate rage let out in 10 seconds anyway okay arm but having to adjust and actually I think we've only with talked quite a lot about what points did everything else joined out on the topic while you're talking about now I don't think so I think the the last Friday have is in our regarding the entire conversation we we like to think that we are living in a digital society where remote work in remote Collaboration is great and it is and it's better than it's ever been by email from personal experience as as contrived as it may seem there really is no substitute for getting people in a room and sharing ideas and the kinda quick exchanges that come from personal interaction cell it would we've learned that you know you do this kind of remote collaboration when you have to deal and you make the best of it but in our line of work we were trying to help people think through problems in an email bring ideas to life it's so much better to be face-to-face and its it's just it somewhat more productive and somewhat refined I think in a lot of ways that the whiteboard is just become this staple of that bad arm that process that we not really think about any more and are as as silly as it seems email eight I didn't really know what we are in a fight about for an hour about way board spate if they're really just just thinking. There have been in a little revelations along the way like yeti things really do afford us a great deal of collaboration and I don't think about and needed anything more you absolutely and I completely agree on everything you said and is honestly is the sort of thing I was saying earlier it as it fades in the background we take and intake of the ground almost and the funny thing is when I walk into a meeting room are the does not have a whiteboard are I instantly notice and it's the sort of thing that if you and may sound strange but if you are in an environment where you need to do collaboration you don't have a whiteboard my advice to be one so anyway arm I might leave it there so if you do want to talk more about this you can reach me on Twitter at Dar John Geagea and check out my writing attack are you like this any feedback please use the feedback form on the website and that's we also find show notes for the episode and the pod casts pragmatic you can also follow at pragmatic show on Twitter to see show announcements and other related materials but also really like to thank my guests are set and what's the best way for people in touch with you are and south of redundant most of the social networks Twitter is usually where I'd spend a lot of my time and if you want to check out the work that we deal you can look at a state nickel theft outcome awesome as I say a final thank you to our sponsor wet from studios for sponsoring pragmatic if you're looking to add some credibility of product or company remember specifically visit this URL wet from to get a great result at half the normal price of thanks again Seth Linda thanks everyone for listening anytime�
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Seth Clifford

Seth Clifford

Seth is CIO of Nickelfish and he also appears on the Iterate podcast.

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.