Only back in the office for a couple of hours, and already my "News Stories Of The Flamingly Obvious" folder is open. This time, it's an unholy alliance of economists, market watchers and Google management who've made the startling discovery that people who sit near to each other at work share the most information - even in companies who use IM and email a lot.
This fascinating and unexpected revelation came about through Google's own internal betting syndicate, which encourages employees to put virtual money (Goobles, for heaven's sake) on predicted future events.
This is a great idea from lots of angles - it encourages company-wide discussion on all sorts of things, provides feedback on employee opinion, spreads knowledge. And, if you're Google, you get to hyper-analyse who's betting on what, showing you how information and influence flows through the company. That could lead to all sorts of valuable insight on the way social networks actually operate, which - as you may already know, Professor - is the great hope for tthe future of online commerce.
And what did they find out, these mighty brains focussed so tightly on the minutiae of office anthropology? People who sit next to each other tend to think the same way. They call it microgeography. You can call it human nature.
What might be more fun is investigating the way people sitting next to each other conduct parallel conversations on IM with each other. That has great dramatic potential...
(Bonus online community link: This is the one thing I've read which has made me go "That's it. I'm now officially middle aged." Unless, of course, it's just a bunch of lazy researchers making stuff up from lines naughty kids have fed them...)