I wanted to blog about this for a long time and finally it's out today. If you are in the computer science world working in some company or doing research, cubicles will not be a new thing for you. A large room partitioned into blocks of small cubicles and two or more people working nearby are the typical nature of these work areas.
Honestly, I really really don't like this setting. I wonder who came up with this idea of having people sit nearby in the open and work. May be people are thinking that having open cubicles give more freedom to people because they are not physically constrained by walls or doors. But have they ever thought the effect on mind? Does physical boundaries affect the same way to mind? In fact, I think it's totally the other way around. You cannot think effectively when you are in open with others. Essentially what happens is that you are physically free, but mentally constrained.
The truth with everyone, no matter how much they don't like to show it, is that they have unique ways of working optimally. This may include things like clapping and rubbing the hands when your code works and say "Oh! Sh*t" when it doesn't. Not to mention the luxury of thinking silently. How much of these can you do when you are in a professional setting surrounded by others? Also, how much actions of others can you tolerate. Here's one of my personal experience. A person who sat next to me used to sip his coffee so loud and end each sip with the sound "aah". I understand that it's how he likes to enjoy his coffee. That's perfectly fine, but for me that sipping was annoying and disturbing.
So in my view, if you want to work effectively specially when you have to think, open cubicles are nothing but jail to your mind. If you think I am crazy, think of theses (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/sep/19/books-written-in-prison). These guys were in prison physically, but they had all the "space" in mind to think. No I am not suggesting to go to prison to work :D.
Anyway, another good video on "Why work doesn't happen at work", by Jason Fried from one the TED talks can be found from here (http://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work.html).