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Don’t expect Oracle’s donation of the code of chúng tôi to The Apache Software Foundation to settle anything about the troubled office suite. If the situation does improve, it will be small thanks to Oracle.
According to Oracle, the donation is proof that “Oracle continues to demonstrate its commitment to the developer and open source communities. Donating chúng tôi to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future.”
However, from the way that the donation was done, and the situation it leaves the project in, it looks very much like a last spiteful gesture toward the rival Document Foundation, the project that develops LibreOffice, the chúng tôi fork. The result is a future that leaves the future as troubled as the present. At the very least, to some observers it appears to show a disdain for the community that borders on arrogance.
If that sounds like an over-statement, consider the history. Some of the chúng tôi project members were dissatisfied for years with Sun Microsystem’s stewardship. When Oracle acquired Sun and its assets in early 2010, the dissatisfaction intensified. Many people pointed to Oracle’s lackluster treatment of other free software projects as an indication of what lay in OpenOffice.org’s future.
On 28 September, 2010, this dissatisfaction culminated in the creation of The Document Foundation. Organized by employees of Novell, Red Hat, and other corporations involved in chúng tôi The Document Foundation announced a fork called LibreOffice, and immediately attracted a large number of people who had previously worked on OpenOffice.org.
Although The Document Foundation invited Oracle to join its ranks, relations between chúng tôi and LibreOffice appeared to deteriorate when Oracle declared involvement in both projects a conflict of interest and insisted that LibreOffice supporters resign from their positions on the chúng tôi Community Council.
Almost immediately, The Document Foundation proved it had more momentum than chúng tôi with more discussion and proposals on its mailing lists. Within weeks, major distributions such as Ubuntu were deciding to ship with LibreOffice rather than OpenOffice.org.
Yet, despite such setbacks, Oracle’s previous assertion that it was committed to chúng tôi made most people believe that the rivalry would continue indefinitely.
At the time, the announcement was greeted with cautious optimism. But, since then, Oracle employees working on chúng tôi have been laid off, including long-time community manager Louis Suarez-Potts. Most of the project’s mailing lists shut down, and the last development patch was submitted on April 18. For all practical purposes, chúng tôi was dead, leaving dozens to wonder what was going on.
According to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, the donation to The Apache Foundation was made with the encouragement of IBM, which develops Lotus Symphony, another chúng tôi fork.
From a corporate viewpoint, you can imagine several reasons why the donation makes sense. As an umbrella organization of nearly one hundred projects, The Apache Foundation resembles a corporation more than most free and open source software (FOSS) organizations, no doubt making it easier for Oracle to deal with. It is also well-established and unlikely to disappear, so chúng tôi has a permanent home.
Furthermore, Vaughan-Nichols writes that Oracle is contractually obliged to IBM to ensure the continued development of chúng tôi If that is so, then you do not need to be a tactician to understand why Oracle might donate where IBM wanted it to. You might also view the donation as a peace offering after clashes with The Apache Foundation over various issues about Java.
As for the free office suite community, donating to Apache at least superficially satisfies requests that the code be turned over to a neutral, FOSS-friendly organization. Until yesterday, the community was planning to petition Oracle to donate the code (I know, because I drafted the petition), but the donation suddenly makes the effort moot.
Even The Document Foundation officially announced that “we welcome Oracle’s donation of code that has previously been proprietary to the Apache Software Foundation.” Superficially, at least, everyone sounds pleased about the donation.
So why is the donation less than ideal? One answer is that The Apache Foundation has more experience with projects that involve servers and infrastructure than desktop appliances. If chúng tôi is going to thrive, then the Foundation needs to learn, and quickly.
Another reason is that the donation means that most of the chúng tôi code is now licensed under the Apache License, rather than the previous GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). That means that some parts of the existing code are now incompatible with the main license, and may need to be discarded or rewritten.
The difference in licenses also reflects a difference in FOSS cultures, since the Apache License does not prevent the code being used under a proprietary license. For at least some of the OpenOffice.org-LibreOffice community, this license is likely to be objectionable.
However, by far the largest problem is that what the Apache Foundation has been passed is a project with few, if any members. This leaves the situation much as it was with Oracle, with official title to the code controlled by one organization, and most of the development and innovation being done by another — The Document Foundation.
What makes this development especially unfortunate is that, in the last couple weeks, the members of this joint community have been edging towards reunification.
The mutual distrust between Oracle and The Document Foundation, it appears, was largely on the organizational level. In the community, working relationships seem to have been at least partly preserved.
For example, Louis Suarez-Potts went out of his way to point out that he and Florian Effenberger, a member of The Document Foundation’s Steering Committee, work for the same company and have “sought to maintain cordial and even friendly relations since last year.” Similarly, Charles-H. Schulz, another member of The Document Foundation’s steering committee, emphasizes that “We have here one community and two projects.”
True, the Document Foundation has indicated a willingness to work with the Apache Foundation, and states that it has received an email from Jim Jagielski, “who is anticipating frequent contacts between the Apache Software Foundation and The Document Foundation over the next few months.” So there is at least the possibility of a diplomatic reunification occurring in the near future.
But, for now, the community’s efforts, if not its individuals, remain divided in a way that is harmful to all parties. Schultz tells me that a project on the scale of chúng tôi under Sun requires ten million Euros a year. Alternatively, it needs to mobilize volunteer contributors on a massive scale. Yet, even if Apache can find the cash or volunteers, that still means a duplication of efforts that is wasteful and inefficient.
Furthermore, Schultz argues, reunification can only serve the greater good. It would restore confidence among corporate and private users, and remove any uncertainty about Open Document Format, the ISO standard for office files that both LibreOffice and chúng tôi offer as an alternative to Microsoft Office’s file formats.
Still another problem is branding. Although chúng tôi was not as well known as proprietary rivals such as Microsoft Office, over the course of ten years it had developed a certain name recognition. By contrast, in the seven months of its existence, LibreOffice has yet to achieve comparable recognition. In fact, as a new brand, LibreOffice is sometimes regarded with suspicion by users outside the free software community.
Specifically, Schulz argues for reunification under LibreOffice. His argument is that LibreOffice has already proven itself better able to attract community developers than chúng tôi ever was. “In seven months, we have attracted twenty times more developers than the chúng tôi project, [and] we have extended the number of contributors to a bigger size than the chúng tôi project ever had.” The strength of this argument only increases when you consider that the Apache version of chúng tôi will probably need a month or two to organize, assuming that it become a going concern in the first place.
After the animosity, expecting Oracle to donate anything to The Document Foundation is probably asking too much of human nature. All the same, reunification seems a sensible goal, even if not necessarily under The Document Foundation.
But instead of listening to the community, Oracle has chosen a solution that not only threatens to preserve the existing divisions, but also ignores the wishes of the community by making reunification more difficult. The unsettledness of the solution seems a direct contradiction of Oracle’s high-minded statements about supporting FOSS.
This story is unfolding rapidly. Rumors are that another twist or two are expected later this week. In addition, another petition is being contemplated by some members of the community — this time, to The Apache Foundation, requesting that it turn its new assets over to The Document Foundation.
Such a move may not be strictly necessary. It may be enough for Apache to show a willingness to cooperate by joining The Document Foundation. If that happens, efforts would still be duplicated when resources are scarce, but at least some degree of cooperation might happen in a way that was impossible under Oracle.
Maybe then chúng tôi could finally be free to become a true community project of the sort that many have dreamed about for years. After Sun’s and now Oracle’s mismanagement, such an outcome seems long overdue. Let’s hope that Apache shows a greater concern for contributors and users than its predecessors.
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Here of the future of AI technology
Artificial intelligence is already pervasive in our digital life, from cell phones to chatbots. You just don’t realise it yet. The popularity of AI is growing, thanks in part to the vast amounts of data that machines can collect about our interests, purchases, and activities on a daily basis. Artificial intelligence researchers utilise all of this information to teach machines how to understand and predict whatever we want or don’t want. Let’s take a look at where AI is headed in the future.Entertainment
Netflix, step aside. In the future, you could relax on your couch and order a personalised movie with your favourite virtual actors. Meanwhile, film companies may be able to avoid flops in the future: The storyline of a movie script will be analysed by sophisticated predictive computers, which will forecast its box office possibilities.Medicine
Why would you want to take medicine that is beneficial for the ordinary individual when you could have it personalised to your specific genome? Doctors and hospitals will be able to more effectively evaluate data and tailor health care to each person’s genes, surroundings and lifestyle thanks to AI algorithms. AI will drive the personalised medicine revolution, from detecting brain tumours to determining which cancer treatment would work best for each individual.Cybersecurity
In 2024, there were around 707 million cybersecurity vulnerabilities, with 554 million in the second quarter of 2024. Companies are fighting to keep one step ahead of cybercriminals. AI’s self-learning and automated skills, according to USC experts, can help consumers protect their data more consistently and inexpensively, keeping them safe from terrorism or even small-scale identity theft. Before harmful computer viruses and programmes can steal vast amounts of data or wreak chaos, AI-based techniques hunt for patterns linked with them.Vital Tasks
AI assistance will help seniors maintain their independence and stay in their homes for extended periods of time. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems will ensure that healthy food is constantly available, that things on top shelves are safely reached, and that movement in a senior’s home is tracked. Many other repetitious and physical jobs are ideal candidates for AI-based technologies. However, in dangerous fields such as mining, firefighting, mine clearance and handling radioactive substances, AI-assisted employment may be even more vital.Transportation
Self-driving cars are one area where AI may have the greatest impact in the near future. AI drivers, unlike people, never give up at the radio, apply mascara, or squabble with their children in the backseat. In European cities, self-driving trains have already taken over the rails, and Boeing is developing an autonomous airliner.List of Jobs Where AI Will Take Over Customer Service Executives
To do their tasks, customer service agents wouldn’t need a high level of social or emotional intelligence. Many organisations increasingly rely on AI to answer frequently asked questions and provide customer care. Chatbots are becoming more than just a part of customer support. They also respond to a variety of internal inquiries.Bookkeeping and Data Entry Receptionists
In the long run, automated check-ins in both small and large motels will reduce the need for hotel staff. Customers can now place orders through communication displays or tabs in fast food places. There’s a good chance that, with AI, machines will be able to handle purchasing and other related activities.Proofreading
While editing is more difficult in terms of tone, comprehension, and other factors, proofreading is a much easier task. Different applications can easily detect grammar errors, sentence construction mistakes, and other mistakes. Grammarly, for instance, is one of the most well-known programs for this purpose among professionals.Retail Services
People who handle sales have been replaced by automated services. Many merchants are focusing on self-ordering and payment methods, and AI can be incorporated fast. In order to truly comprehend client habits, many retail professions are being substituted by robots. Furthermore, the substantial data analysis performed by AI machines reveals alternative products that customers may be interested in in the future.Courier Services
As a wake of AI, the shipping sector has undergone various social and economic changes. Several logistics and supply chain operations have been streamlined. As deliveries, drones and robots are already substituting people. Robotic automation will have the biggest effect on the shipping industry in the future years, aside from the manufacturing industry.Military
Military experts believe that future battlefields will be populated by robots capable of following orders without continual monitoring. Robots are utilised extensively in military operations for a variety of functions including surveillance, data and many more.Taxi and Bus Drivers
This industry has a 97 % likelihood of being entirely automated. Self-driving cars are already on the market, and fully autonomous cars won’t be far behind.
Last week, the chúng tôi Community Council requested the resignation of members who supported The Document Foundation, the recent fork of the chúng tôi project. This week, the results are revealed: resignations of key people, and a growing tendency to choose sides in the community. And the tragedy is that none of this angst seems necessary.
The request follows the recent creation of The Document Foundation (TDF), to provide an independent governing body for the development of the chúng tôi (OOo) code, and the announcement of LibreOffice, The Document Foundation’s fork of the chúng tôi code.
Although The Document Foundation invited Oracle Corporation, the current owners of the chúng tôi code after acquiring it earlier this year along with the rest of the assets of Sun Microsystems, to join, Oracle declined. However, Oracle did issue a news release affirming its continued dedication to OpenOffice.org.
Matters came to a head last week during an IRC meeting of the Community Council. Stating that ” it is of utmost importance that we do not confuse users and contributors as to what is what, as to the identity of OpenOffice.org,” Chair Louis Suarez-Potts described the creation of The Document Foundation as “a plain conflict of interest,” he went on to say that, “the point is quite clear. If the TDF members do not disassociate themselves from [The Document Foundation, then they must resign by Tuesday [October 26].”
Considering that five of the eleven Community Council members are members of The Document Foundation, the insistence on their resignation can hardly be anything but disruptive. The four members are Deputy Chair Sophie Gautier; Native Language Representatives Olivier Hallot and Charles-H. Schultz; Community Representative Cor Nouws, and Product Development Representative Christoph Noack.
However, when you add other members of The Document Foundation’s steering committee, the potential for self-inflicted injury to chúng tôi becomes even more serious. Among the members of the steering committee are Caolan McNamara, a prominent member of the chúng tôi Engineer Steering Committee; Florian Effenberger, the Marketing Project Lead, and the project lead for several localizations, including Brazilian, Danish, and German.
As I write, at least one of the steering committee — Florian Effenberger — has resigned, even though not called upon to do so. He joins Community Council member Christoh Noack and Charles L. Schulz.
So far, no one has announced that they will resign from The Document Foundation to stay in chúng tôi However, Oracle remains the employee of the majority of chúng tôi developers, so, at the coding level, the situation might have little effect. Yet, with an increasing number of people choosing sides, some problems seem likely.
The result just may be a fracturing of the tentative community that chúng tôi has managed to create.
To anyone who follows chúng tôi the split seems hardly surprising. The uncertainty over Oracle’s plans for chúng tôi has left at least some community members mistrustful. When The Document Foundation was first announced on the chúng tôi Discuss list, one of the first responses was to call upon Oracle to “do the decent thing” and support the foundation.
Even Oracle employee Thomas Lange, writing to contradict the suggestion that no one at Oracle monitored the list, felt obliged to add, “However, most of those who do are in no position to make such decisions.”
In this atmosphere, the announcement of The Document Foundation was welcomed, but not uncritically. Recognizing several of the foundation’s steering committee as members of Go-OO, a previous splinter group from chúng tôi Cor Nouws cannot help remarking that it “is a tragic quirk of history that people whom I criticized in private and public for the way they acted [towards] chúng tôi are among the first ones that support the long-awaited foundation.”
Similarly, Ariel Constenla-Haile, noting that Novell and Red Hat employees are included among The Document Foundation, questions the motives from the group, as well as the fact that how it will be governed is still being determined. From such remarks, it appears that support for The Document Foundation is based more on uncertainty about Oracle than unqualified enthusiasm for the new project.
By contrast, those who continue to support chúng tôi most strongly tend to be Oracle employees. For example, developer Malte Timmermann asks, “How can [OpenOffice.org] gain from this? It’s not clear to me how contributions to [LibreOffice] will make their way to OpenOffice.org.”
Mathias Bauer, a long-time manager of chúng tôi development, is even more outspoken. Describing the ultimatum as “a valid request,” he suggests that anyone with a leading position in chúng tôi who cannot give chúng tôi priority should resign. On the whole, the chúng tôi supporters seem more hardline and less willing to compromise.
Yahoo acquired the blogging analytics program and social network MyBlogLog in January which was a smart and exciting move on their behalf. But what are they doing with MyBlogLog now?History of MyBlogLog
As a quick recap of MyBlogLog, the analytics program was grouped with a simple Social Networking offering which lets members upload their photos. Then, when blog owners run the MyBlogLog script, they can not only track their basic referrals and blog traffic, but also measure WHO visits their blogs, via MyBlogLog profiles.
But the defining point of MyBlogLog is the formation of communities and the MyBlogLog FaceRolls (ReaderRolls). The FaceRoll adds more of a personal touch to any blog running it by showing the last 5 to 10 readers and their avatar who visited the blog.
Given its personalization and networking aspects for bloggers, MyBlogLog was an early darling of the blogging community (MyBlogLog Search Engine Journal Community), and although the service is still popular, if Yahoo! doesn’t make some changes soon, who’s to say it won’t become yesterday’s news?The Future of MyBlogLog?
Not to say that Yahoo has to overhaul the service, but updating MyBlogLog to a better service would be nice.
Why then, can Yahoo not build something as easy as a feed reader? Why do they spend their time and expenses creating flashy MyYahoo homepages with limited feed integration technology when 80% of their employees could probably hack a very good Yahoo! Reader over the course of one day. And imagine what they could turn out over the course of one Hack Day!Yahoo! MyBlogLog Reader
Enough ranting, the next logical step for MyBlogLog is the launching of a Blog Reader which is preprogrammed with the feeds of the blog communities we have already joined.
For example, I’ve been a member of MyBlogLog for about one year. I belong to 15 communities which are all run by blogs I enjoy reading on a daily basis.
Yahoo! launches their MyBlogLog reader and suddenly my Reader is propopulated with the blogs I enjoy, along with suggestions of other blogs which members of the communities I belong to and my MyBlogLog friends read.
I’d be easily hooked and would seriously, if the reader were done right, probably ditch the other feed reader services I belong to.
And it is to my understanding that MyBlogLog has this technology ready to roll, and has been sitting on it for a good while now. So they should Beta test it, make fixes, then Alpha launch it immediately.Other Next Steps for MyBlogLog
David Dalka attended the SOBcon conference in Chicago yesterday where MyBlogLog Community Manager Robyn Tippins spoke about more upcoming changes, including the rebranding of MyBlogLog.
The biggest news is that there will be a rebranding of MyBlogLog. The exact timing and new brand were not revealed. (YahooBlogLog or MyYahooLog? Time will tell.)
A complete site redesign is on the way!
A new “Widget 2.0? is coming with some hover features.
Yahoo! is hard at work to remove the offensive photos so that MyBlogLog would be palatable to more conservative business blogs.
Some sort of method to turn off your presence for some types of sites will be added.
Salesforce is the world’s leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, providing businesses with a platform to manage their customer interactions and streamline their sales process. In recent years, Salesforce has been at the forefront of the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its platform. Salesforce AI is the future of sales automation, and it is changing the way businesses approach sales.Section 1: What is Salesforce AI?
Salesforce AI is a suite of artificial intelligence technologies integrated into the Salesforce platform. Salesforce AI includes a range of features, including predictive analytics, natural language processing, and machine learning algorithms. These features work together to help businesses automate and optimize their sales process, from lead generation to customer retention.
Salesforce AI is built on the Salesforce Einstein platform, which is designed to enable developers and businesses to build AI-powered applications. Salesforce Einstein is a powerful tool that provides businesses with the ability to automate and optimize their sales process using AI and machine learning.Section 2: AI-powered Sales Automation Features
Salesforce AI includes a range of AI-powered features that can help businesses automate and optimize their sales process. In this section, we will discuss some of the key features of Salesforce AI and how they can benefit businesses.Lead Scoring Opportunity Scoring
Salesforce AI uses machine learning algorithms to analyse a range of data points to assign a score to an opportunity. These data points can include the opportunity’s stage in the sales pipeline, the engagement of the customer with the business, and the deal size. By analyzing these data points, Salesforce AI can provide businesses with a clear understanding of which opportunities are most likely to close, allowing them to prioritize their sales efforts.Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics is the process of using data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. Predictive analytics can be used to identify trends, forecast outcomes, and identify potential risks.Natural Language Processing
Salesforce AI includes a range of NLP tools, including sentiment analysis and chatbots. Sentiment analysis can be used to analyse customer feedback, reviews, and social media posts to understand how customers feel about a business. Chatbots, on the other hand, can be used to automate customer interactions, providing customers with quick and easy responses to their queries.Automated Email Campaigns
Automated email campaigns allow businesses to send targeted and personalized emails to their customers, based on their behaviour and engagement with the business.
Salesforce AI includes a range of tools to help businesses automate their email campaigns. These tools can be used to send targeted and personalized emails to customers at the right time, helping businesses increase their conversion rates and sales.Sales Forecasting
Salesforce AI includes a range of sales forecasting tools, including predictive forecasting and opportunity tracking. These tools allow businesses to gain insights into future sales trends, allowing them to make informed decisions about their sales strategy.Section 3: Benefits of Using Salesforce AI
There are many benefits to using Salesforce AI in sales automation. In this section, we will discuss some of the key benefits of using Salesforce AI.Improved Efficiency
Salesforce AI can help businesses automate and optimize their sales process, reducing the amount of time and effort required to close deals. By automating tasks such as lead scoring and email campaigns, businesses can focus their efforts on high-priority tasks, increasing their efficiency and productivity.Increased Sales Improved Customer Experience
Salesforce AI can help businesses improve their customer experience by providing personalized and targeted interactions. By using NLP and chatbots, businesses can provide quick and easy responses to customer queries, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.Better Sales Forecasting
By using predictive forecasting and opportunity tracking, businesses can plan and allocate resources effectively, reducing the risk of over- or under-investment.Competitive Advantage Section 4: Challenges of Implementing Salesforce AI
While there are many benefits to using Salesforce AI in sales automation, there are also challenges businesses may face when implementing this technology. In this section, we will discuss some of the key challenges of implementing Salesforce AI.Data Quality
Salesforce AI relies on high-quality data to provide accurate insights and predictions. Poor data quality can lead to inaccurate predictions and insights, reducing the effectiveness of Salesforce AI. To overcome this challenge, businesses need to ensure their data is clean, accurate, and up-to-date.Integration
Salesforce AI requires integration with other systems and technologies to work effectively. Integrating Salesforce AI with existing systems and technologies can be challenging, and businesses may need to invest in additional resources and expertise to ensure a seamless integration.Cost
Implementing Salesforce AI can be expensive, and businesses may need to invest in additional resources and expertise to implement and maintain this technology. This can be a significant barrier for small and medium-sized businesses, who may not have the resources to invest in Salesforce AI.Employee Training
Implementing Salesforce AI requires employee training to ensure they can effectively use and integrate the technology into their sales process. This can be time-consuming and expensive, and businesses need to ensure they have the resources to provide adequate training to their employees.Security and Privacy
Salesforce AI relies on sensitive customer data to provide insights and predictions. Ensuring the security and privacy of this data is crucial, and businesses need to ensure they have adequate security measures in place to protect this data.Section 5: Future of Salesforce AI
Salesforce AI is still a relatively new technology, but its potential for sales automation is vast. In this section, we will discuss some of the future developments and trends of Salesforce AI.More Advanced Predictive Analytics Improved Integration with Other Technologies
As mentioned earlier, integration is crucial for the effectiveness of Salesforce AI. We can expect improved integration capabilities with other technologies, making it easier for businesses to integrate Salesforce AI into their existing systems.Increased Personalization
Personalization is becoming increasingly important for customer satisfaction and loyalty. We can expect Salesforce AI to become even more personalized, providing targeted and personalized interactions with customers based on their preferences and behaviour.Improved Natural Language Processing
NLP is crucial for automating customer interactions, and we can expect Salesforce AI to continue to improve its NLP capabilities. This will enable even more efficient and effective customer interactions, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.Greater Adoption of Salesforce AI
In addition to three high rise office buildings, Amazon’s new corporate headquarters will also include dome-shaped structures, right in the middle of one of Seattle’s busiest neighborhoods.
In the Denny Triangle section of downtown Seattle, one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods, Amazon’s new corporate headquarters is starting to take shape.
Amazon Tower I, a 37-story office building also known as Doppler, opened in December of 2024. A nearly identical building, Amazon Tower II, is projected to be finished in September, and Amazon Tower III (see a pattern emerging?) will be completed by decade’s end. Though these towers will forever change the look of Seattle’s distinctive skyline, another one of Amazon’s construction projects seems to be getting all the attention: the spheres.
Nobody’s really even sure of what to call them, and Amazon hasn’t yet committed to a name. Around the web, I’ve seen them referred to as biospheres, biodomes, bubbles, globes, spherical buildings, giant spheres, epic-looking glass spheres…you get the picture. When they’re done being built, the three intersecting spheres will give the company’s employees 65,000 square feet of green space in which to walk, talk, lounge, eat lunch, conduct meetings, brainstorm, and do whatever else it is Amazon employees do.
The Seattle-based architecture firm, NBBJ, intends for the spheres to be the “new visual focus and ‘heart’” of Amazon’s headquarters. Amazon unveiled the design in 2013, thereby scrapping a prior plan to put a six-story rectilinear office building in that location. And though the spheres are still far from complete—when I visited, crews were working on the steel exoskeleton—the structure is already fulfilling its promise to be the area’s visual focus.
Building Amazon’s Domes
The domes, still under construction, are starting to take shape.
From blocks away, the spheres draw the eye. Their bold curves contrast sharply with the straight lines of the surrounding architecture. I wasn’t the only person to take pictures of the work in progress or simply gaze at it from the sidewalk. Even Amazon employees seemed to admire the spheres, though one might expect them to have gotten used to the sight by now.
What remains to be seen is whether the spheres will become the “heart” of Amazon’s headquarters, as NBBJ intends them to be. By gathering, assessing, and implementing data much like its notoriously data-minded clients, the multinational company has positioned itself as the firm de rigueur of the tech industry.
The architects behind the domes’ design have relied on the idea that more sunlight and plants could lead to better productivity. NBBJ
Researchers have looked into this connection. One study showed that workers performed better when plants were added to their office space, and another one found that people who worked in an office with windows performed better on certain tests and had better overall sleep than those who worked in a windowless office, or didn’t have access to a window. By creating an environment that optimizes sunlight, allows for trees to grow to full height, and simulates “montane ecologies found around the globe,” Amazon wants to give its employees a better chance at coming up with the next Prime, Kindle, or Echo. But a question remains: Will they visit and use the space voluntarily?
I’m not convinced. For Samsung’s headquarters in San Jose, the same architecture group, NBBJ, came up with a very different design from what you see in Seattle, and one that’s also supposed to foster collaboration. The ten-story, square, donut–shaped building will encourage employees to move between floors—something people don’t typically do on their own— because they’ll be within eyeshot of peers both above and below them.
Apple is also betting on the donut. Campus 2, set to open in late 2024 or early 2023, will occupy a staggering 176 acres of Cupertino real estate. The four-story ring will add 2.8 million square feet to Apple’s holdings and accommodate 12,000 employees.
Of course, it’s much easier for a company to spread out in suburban California. What sets Amazon apart is its decision to build in an urban setting, so close to downtown, with all the inherent constraints. There really is nowhere to go but up. And though I doubt employees will often leave their towers to stroll inside the spheres, I applaud the radical mark the company has decided to make on Seattle’s architecture.
A mockup of what the domes are set to look like when they are finished. NBBJ
American companies have long used skyscrapers to announce and symbolize their ascendancy. The Chrysler Building, Bank of America Tower, and yes, Trump Tower are more than just places where people work; they’re landmarks. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I was captivated by the Sears Tower. I knew nothing of Sears’ financial woes, or of the retailer’s former glory. All I knew was that on a clear day, it was rumored you could see Wisconsin from the observation deck.
I can imagine a kid connecting with Amazon’s spheres in a similar way. They’re alien but organic, futuristic but right there in front of you. And like all urban architecture, they bear scrutiny. To compare, the best photographs of Campus 2 were taken only last month, and from a drone. Sure, Apple’s donut will prevent leaks, but security comes at an expense. Campus 2 will not lead much of a public life. Meanwhile, Amazon is trying to be part of the neighborhood.
Acting as an unofficial member of the Denny Triangle welcoming committee, I entered Doppler on a Tuesday afternoon. Ascending the escalator to the lobby, I took in the building’s sleekness, its newness. Passing an empty waiting area and help desk, I turned the corner and found myself at Doppler’s security checkpoint. Employees swiped their badges; sliding glass partitions let them through. From where I stood, I could see a coffee shop, just out of reach. It was the end of the line. If Amazon’s spheres are meant to signal an era of transparency for the notoriously secretive company, they’re illusory. Doppler is proof of that. Like an ornery neighbor with a sign on his door, it sends the message: No Trespassing.
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