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Next Generation Communication and Information Exchange in the Hybrid Workplace

Presentation #401.03 in the session Connections Within Solar Physics.

Published onSep 18, 2023
Next Generation Communication and Information Exchange in the Hybrid Workplace

Successful communication requires both the transmission and receipt of information. However, in the hybrid workplace, distributed teams are encountering increasing problems with incomplete communication. Message recipients frequently fail to respond, and in many cases the communication is not read in the first place.This critical communication failure is hindering collaboration and progress, and impedes our ability to adapt to (and take advantage of) hybrid and virtual work environments.

To resolve issues involving poor communication, the natural response is to put more effort into providing and sending information. The same information can appear in multiple forums in an attempt to ensure that people see it. It is not uncommon to receive duplicate information via email, text message, forums (Slack, Teams, Discord), community newsletters, verbal communication, and websites. This leads to the “information sprawl” problem (“too many emails,” “too many meetings”) where a person is not able to absorb and prioritize - which results in the same situation as environments with poor communication and not enough information at all.

Two major advances in the realm of data science are key to resolving the “catastrophic communication” problem. Knowledge management attempts to understand the structures of an organization/group/project and to represent those structures in ways that make them more legible (machine and human-readable). Projects in Heliophysics like HelioKNOW, HelioNauts and HelioWeb are developing solutions that allow the capture of valuable information, reorganization, and representation of data in a form that adds value and context for the user. The second major advance is the availability of e.g. large-language models (common examples are ChatGPT and Bard). A key strength of these models is their ability to perform complex but tedious and repetitive tasks which are required to understand the knowledge captured in documents and which may be then used to create knowledge graphs and other machine-understandable representations of knowledge.

Imagine a future where the knowledge provided is easily found by the rest of the community, and information only requires a single point of transmission; never being asked “did you get my email?” again! This presentation will begin with a survey of types of communication and common information forums used in our community today. We will discuss efforts that are laying the foundations of an improved knowledge environment, and the benefits of taking advantage of new communication technology. Finally, we will describe the effort required to make this possible.

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