Who in the software industry has not worked in one of these huge open-spaces readily available in many workplaces? Those who have not can probably consider themselves as the exception. Those who have, probably wonder where on earth this idea of putting dozens and dozens of people in the same room to produce software, come from. I’d love to meet that guy who suggested that first, just to be able to put a face on it. I doubt there is only one source. Anyway… my point is not to find the culprit but to think about the consequences of such choice.
The question came to me first when I was asked to work in such place, then when I read Peopleware (Tom DeMarco) and then when I read about the Zajonc experience. All in all it deserves to think about it.

Let’s start with the Zajonc experiment. Robert B. Zajonc (pronounced Zy-unce – like Science with a Z; born 1923) is a Polish-born American social psychologist who is known for his decades of work on a wide range of social and cognitive processes. In 1969, this fellow and his team have conducted a strange experiment with cockroaches. He found out that cockroaches ran faster down a runway to escape a light source if the runway was lined with an “audience” of onlooking fellow cockroaches (each in its own plexiglass cubicle). This work led to the theory that the mere presence of species mates elevates drive/arousal of the performer. Since then, plenty of other research teams have lead other experiments. In the end, a meta-analytic review has been conducted by Bond and Titus in 1983 of both published and unpublished works involving over 20,000 participants. I [...]