Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Modern business practices no. 374

People will ‘get back’ to me, and don’t. This is normal. Ditto things not being posted, information not being passed on, the dead not being resurrected.

I blame two things. One is those encyclopaedic databases in which, if you add one piece of information, everything else magically recalculates itself. They have a knock-on effect on the people who use them: now, if someone in an office takes a phone call or opens an email, they believe that everything consequent on that message will happen automatically, so they don’t actually have to do anything themselves. The second thing is ‘effective communication’, which promises to mend broken marriages, increase your profit margins and solve all your other problems too: there’s a point at which the actual content begins to erase itself. Those meetings, which are often about other meetings: everyone has a turn to talk, but on listening they pass. So words become abstract sounds, a form of ambient music. (Brian Eno: ‘Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.’)