Close Monitoring

Another item for the hyperbolic discounting attention management (Ainslie) pile.

TimeSnapper (note scroll down to the free version).  This app takes a snapshot of your desktop.  Latter you can play that back as a time lapse movie. This helps you see where the time went.

I don’t use a PC so I haven’t tried TimeSnapper.  On the Mac there is a substitute: Gawker. Gawker is a tool for making time-lapse movies using your Mac’s iSight camera, but it can be used to record your desktop. I’ve enjoyed watching my days, and to my surprise I’ve enjoyed seeing what my machine does at night.

Apparently people use TimeSnapper to prove to their clients that they were actually working on the project during the hours they claimed.  Obviously this could be used for all kinds of abusive monitoring.

Which reminds me.  I gather that some years ago the US Post Office was well known for having the most horribly polarized employee/management known.  Visiting my local Post Office during an open house I was amazed to discover that they had built the place with high ceilings.  In that space they had built walkways from which the management to observe the workers.  These walkways were enclosed with tiny spy holes; to assure that workers didn’t know when they were being watched.  The staff was as amused as I was.  The observation posts hadn’t been used in years.

Update: Karim Lakhani mentions Freedom, A mac app that disables your networking for up to eight hours.

I hear the Firefox plugin – LeechBlock is popular.

Tip of the hat to John Sequeria who mentioned TimeSnapper.

6 thoughts on “Close Monitoring

  1. Mike

    Typo alert: “Anisle” -> “Ainslee” for this page and twice in the post “Secret of Productivity”.

  2. James

    I have to admit I fill my timesheets at work based on my browser history (the non-shit history window is yet another reason I still use SeaMonkey and not Firefox).

  3. bhyde Post author

    James – I wonder if you repurpose one of the firefox plug-ins that tracks and controls your browsing habits to collect that data; probably not since they don’t record “looked at stupid web sites 1pm..2:30pm”; but they should.

    I’ve been surprised that none of those tools automatically poll delicious for keywords for sorting and polling purposes.

  4. Leon

    Hello Ben Hyde

    I (one of the author of TimeSnapper) keep returning to your site, to re-read about Breakdown of Will, and Schelling.

    “the individual is a group of interests who’s governance has so much in common with the governance of other groups that it becomes useful to treat the individual as just like any other hard to manage group”

    So true. A powerful insight.

    You might be joyed to know that TimeSnapper is all about voluntary self management, and not at all about abusive monitoring (there’s no features that allow for any kind of centralised or hidden monitoring). We specifically rail against such stuff on our site, in our terms of use, and in our feature set.

    cheers
    lb

  5. bhyde Post author

    Leon! Thanks!

    I like this bit-o-jargon: counter parties.

    Having admitted my head was gang of risky counter parties disinterested in forming common cause it took me quite a while to appreciate that the other people I was negotiating with were similarly atomized.

    – ben

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