Thursday, January 17, 2008

I was going to stop


Okay. Seriously.

I emailed a friend yesterday and pledged that I would lay off on touting Mac superiority for a while.

But then, Microsoft comes up with this patent application . . . . And I get all short of breath and twitchy . . . And I know that the technology (If you didn't click through, it monitors employee productivity and mental stability using bio-metric devices and hidden cameras. I can't make that up. Seriously, click the link.) in the patent would totally flag me as "about to punch someone in the freaking neck" . . . And it would be right!

Alright. I just need to calm down and think about something not so soul-crushing. Hang on a second. I'm going to look at a picture of a kitten.


There we go.

Much better.


Okay, so the thing about this patent that scares the absolute crap out of me is that essentially, managers can check some kind of database of behaviors to determine who is slacking and conduct employee stress reviews based on automated email which this system flings out whenever a worker exceeds some kind of Microsoft-established Stabbiness Threshold! Who are they to judge how stabby I can get before I actually stab someone! I can control it! My urges do not control me!

Hang on, please.


Ooooo. He's wearin' a lil hat on his lil head.

So cute.

Okay. Pressing on.

The tension levels of employees is something that management should have a handle on. Admittedly, they quite often don't. However a software-based solution of stress-tracking is not a fix for out-of-touch managers. Every freaking time someone goes nuts and shoots up his workplace, his co-workers talk about how they never saw it coming. They never saw it coming, even though he kept a desk covered in tiny clown figurines and if you moved one, just a bit, he'd flip out and email the whole company about someone screwing with ClownLand on his desk and everyone would just stay quiet for a few days. He kept roadkill in the breakroom refrigerator and spent hours everyday naming his pencils, arranging them according to their moods and then singing to them. But no one ever thought he'd snap and launch an assault from the stairwell. Just pay attention, damn it! Software will never correct cluelessness!

Just a minute.


Oh, yeah. That's the stuff there.

Kitten + Multiple Ducklings = Awesome.

Okay. So essentially what I'm suggesting is that technology will never be a substitute for actual human interaction. Not in any meaningful way. I suppose Apple's iGrope robot research division has their own ideas, but I doubt even that no-doubt intuitive interface will ever impact anyone's performance evaluation. Allowing inept managers to further distance themselves from their staff will not improve productivity for anyone long-term. And people could freaking die as a result.

"Oh, our managers don't seem to have any idea what their people are doing! Let's let them monitor everyone by webcam and provide baseline indicators for 'normal' so their ability to deal one-on-one with an actual disgruntled employee atrophies and, when the barrage of gunfire starts, they can be safely stashed away in the inner sanctum of the viewing dome to emerge when the smoke clears to build a new department out of the ashes!"

Sorry. One more.


Oh, look! That's not a Pop-Tart! Real Pop-Tarts contain slightly less pet hair.


We all have our ways of dealing with stress in the workplace. No automated system can track all of them. If it could, it may as well just be in charge, cranking out robotic minions from some lightning backlit mountain top while using all carbon-based life for slave labor and bio-fuel. It's really the only thing that makes sense.

I'm going to find out if the dust has cleared at MacWorld. Maybe there is some good news there.


No comments: