Nick Bilton takes a fairly uncritical look at a new startup, tenXer, that asserts developer producitivity gains can come from monitoring lines of code produced, or other development tasks completed:
Former Card Counter’s New Start-Up Helps Measure Productivity - Nick Bolton via NYTimes.com
Once authorized by an employee, tenXer monitors the worker’s Gmail, Calendar, GitHub (an online service for software developers) and other programming services to determine how much work the employee produces. The idea isn’t to play Big Brother with employees, but to measure the work they create and then reward them with positive feedback when tasks are completed — just as in a game.
“The feedback loop at work is inherently broken. People want to get better at their jobs but have no idea how to do this,” explained Mr. Ma. ”There needs to be an instantaneous, objective, actionable feedback, which is what we’ve done with tenXer.”
I agree with these assertions in part: people feel happier and sense time passing more quickly when they explicitly share progress against a task list. Roger Meade showed this in the ’70s, and it’s a strong cognitive motivation for for the adoption of work media tools.
However, tracking productivity as a function of lines of code produced is a snare: sometimes the highest sort of programming productivity comes from taking code out of software. And I am skeptical of considering this as somehow related to big data. In fact, this is more a case of social data, or social metrics: exposing data relevant to social interaction around work.
Nonetheless, tenXer seems a natural fit for the developer community who are totally wired, using solutions like GitHub to manage code, and who are likely to buy into the somewhat Taylorist premise that underlies tenXer’s positioning.
At the same time, it seems like a set of features that should be implemented in a version of Yammer (or Podio, etc.) instrumented for developers, rather than a stand alone solution.