Why I don’t blog anymore.

Posted in Uncategorized on 26/07/2011 by ThreeDice

I used write stuff down all the time. At university I would carry around several 1B5 books, a few were for general study-related note taking , but one was reserved expressly for ideas. I somehow managed to write something down in that book every day; usually at least a page or two. Then all of a sudden I stopped. I stopped because I had started a blog called Compliance Fiction. It was initially assessed as part of a postgraduate paper on digital media, and I suspected it may be a good replacement for my ideas book. Years later, I’ve got a full-time job, not much of a blog, and no notebook. Instead, I have twitter which I seem to manage to keep fairly up to date. But I feel I have neglected the people who are strange enough to find the urge to read my blog. I’m not giving them content as much as I used to and I feel some sort of explanation is in order. So here is a list of reasons why I don’t write blogs anymore

1) My spare time is not spent in front of a computer. The biggest difference between scribbling in a notebook and publishing a blog entry is you need to have a computer to do the later. A notebook is very portable, and you don’t have to worry about people stealing it. It doesn’t need to load up, and it doesn’t matter if it gets wet. So you can use it more often. While you’re having your lunch or while you’re waiting to meet someone for example. It’s simply not practical to have a computer with you all the time. And the spare time you have to write down ideas is not usually when you have a PC at hand. I could theoretically make posts from my phone, but the keypad is so small and the damn thing keeps auto-correcting my words. This may cease to be a reason when I get an iPad. I’ll just have to see how much I end up carrying that around with me.

2) I have twitter. So often, the thoughts I get, have already been very thoughtfully and diligently articulated by someone else. It is so simple to link a tweet to someone else’s article and use the remaining 140 characters to give your opinion. I can tweet articles as quickly as I can read them so I’m able to pass on so much more via twitter than I could ever hope to on a blog. By the time it comes to writing the entry, the moment has passed and I am no longer interested.

3) No one reads it. And I can’t be bothered going out and seeking an audience. The things I have to say don’t really have that much depth or significance anyway. Hence the by-line.

4) If anyone did read it, I probably wouldn’t be able to administer replies properly. I’m not interested in starting a conversation or having a debate. All I’m interested in is a repository for thoughts and ideas. It’s really catharsis more than anything else.

5) I don’t want people to know what I think. I know a lot of people they cross the political spectrum they cross the religious spectrum and they cross the intellectual spectrum. A lot of my friends and acquaintances have quite firmly held beliefs about things I disagree with. I’m not interested in being confrontational, so I just sort of keep my ideas inside these days.

Not having some form of expression for ideas is potentially very dangerous. So I might start writing more when I buy an iPad, or failing that, I may just go about with a 0.50c notebook like I used to.

The Productivity Paradox

Posted in Uncategorized on 26/07/2011 by ThreeDice

I have a friend who has just graduated from university and is looking for work. She’s adopted a take-what-you-can-get approach, and is now working on a short term contract for a government agency. It’s a rather menial administration role; borderline data entry. She basically takes information that officials have written on forms and enters them into a computer. The job is well beneath her intellectually, which has led her to make a rather curious discovery; a lot of the information given to her is wrong, or conflicts with other information she has inputted. What’s potentially more interesting though is that no one has any time to care about it. They want her to do the job that she’s employed to do, which is basically transcription. If her boss’s boss’s boss knew, they would undoubtedly want the problem solved.

Two things about this story really resonated with me:

1) Despite the fact that the some of the most intelligent minds in society are in positions of power, they can only make decisions that are as smart as the people who are working for them at the bottom of the food chain.

2) Too often, senior people have no idea what is going on down at the bottom.

In order to draw any sort of conclusions about how we as a society might go about fixing these problems, we need to first address what causes them.

Our eternal pursuit of profits has led to cost cutting, and human beings come at a high cost. Cheaper employees are less educated, but because they are paid less, they care about their work less. For them, the turn up, clock in and get paid at the end of the week. That is where the relationship with the workplace ends. They have little regard for the overall objectives of the company, because every time they ask for a pay rise, they are declined and all the while they see their managers in flash cars and fancy clothes.

And while low wages are one contributing factor, another is ignorance. Too many senior managers and executives have either forgotten what it’s like to be on the shop floor, or don’t spend nearly enough time down there getting their hands dirty. It’s simply not enough to get reports. You actually have to go into the bowels of an organisation to really understand what’s going on.

So what changes can we implement at a nation-wide level to encourage productivity and to make sure people actually give a damn?

If low wages appear to breed resentment, would paying these people more actually make a difference? No. All you’d get would be wage inflation. All of a sudden managers would want more and executives would want more as well. And offering more money wouldn’t necessarily attract candidates with a higher education as people with degrees often turn down work that isn’t mentally stimulating enough.

If we made it compulsory that every employee in an organisation be a shareholder in that company, then we could potentially see some quite remarkable outcomes. All of a sudden people would find themselves incentivised to work towards the good of the company, not simply to the good of their managers. People would self-police their colleagues knowing that shortcutting and poor performance would dent the overall performance of the company and have an impact on the value of their shareholding. All of a sudden, people would be incentivised to care and would be bolder in putting forward recommendations that would lead to real change.

Secondly, there’s a show on TV called Undercover Boss. The premise of this show is that a CEO goes and works for a few days among the ordinary workers in their company. The show often ends in tears as the boss realises that the staff really do work hard, and that they are good people. This sort of thing is simply not done enough in modern organisations and should be encouraged.

These are just a couple of examples I’m sure there are a lot more. But nothing will happen unless people speak up and actively approach their employers. The employers have a responsibility to listen to their staff too. And the more stories I hear from friends working in low-level jobs, the less hopeful I become about real changes being made.

What has happened to all the nice people?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 19/06/2011 by ThreeDice

customerservice

The Metro magazine brought out its annual Best Restaurant edition this month, and the editorial raised a concern that I’ve been harbouring for some time.

Too often, judging these awards, we encountered sloppy service in places that should no better… Why aren’t they trying to get you back?

I’m rapidly running out of local places to get breakfast on the weekend. It’s not because places are closing down, and it’s not because I like to eat at a different restaurant every week; it’s because I’m one of these people who will stop frequenting a business if their service is poor.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Auckland has a seriously systemic problem with profitable mediocrity. What really pushed me over the line was this morning’s episode with a pushy woman who thought she could cut in front of a queue because she was only paying for something small and she had already made her mind up. That the staff allowed this was absolutely unacceptable. It’s not just eateries either. The lack of service extends into retail, trade services, and yes, even advertising.

The problem as I see it, is that people are seeing their jobs as a means to an end. They don’t enjoy it; clocking on and off so they can bank their pay check and get home to do whatever it is they think is more important.

At the end of the day, it comes down to management. I can say this, because there are businesses out there that are doing things properly. They’re giving their staff the appropriate training and responsibility so that employees feel empowered and can enjoy their job.

People ask me why I always visit the same restaurants over and over again. It’s because I like to reward good service. It’s such an easy thing to get right.

Kate Miller-Heidke. My New Music Crush

Posted in Girls, Music with tags , on 18/05/2011 by ThreeDice

Last weekend I went and saw Ben Folds live at the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia. That concert was amazing, and was made more amazing by the surprise that I got after the warm-up act – Kate Miller-Heidke – opened her mouth for her opening number. I had prepared myself for an entree, but in the lovely Kate was served a delightful main course. Her mostly acoustic set was technically, aurally and visually flawless.

I promptly ran out to the merch stand and bought her two albums and made her sign them. I encourage you to go out and buy the records yourself. You’ll have them on repeat soon enough.

267046-kate-miller-heidke KMH KMH2

A bit of music.

Posted in Uncategorized on 13/03/2011 by ThreeDice

Adult versions of Disney Characters

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/12/2010 by ThreeDice

Alice in wonderland Beauty and the Beast Cinderella Goldilocks Little Mermaid Sleeping Beauty snow white Tinkerbell

Cree Indian Proverb

Posted in Uncategorized on 02/12/2010 by ThreeDice

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.

3227009244_f30bccc1c6