Monday, April 11, 2005

Modern Efficiency?

Joan is registering for classes. It is a pain.
I've come to expect problems when trying to register for classes. What's funny is that I never had a problem when we didn't use computers for it. [snip] Now that my university is all interconnected by a network, no matter who I call or where I go, they send me somewhere else.
You have to go to all this trouble because computers are stupid. They are literally stupid in that the average computer is about as smart as an earthworm or perhaps a housefly. But they are also pretty stupid from a logistical standpoint. Today you get to do all the crap that the registrars office used to do for you back when actual people were involved.

That is what has really happened with the information revolution. All the crap that service staff used to do for you, you now have to do yourself. Why because with computers now they can make you do it. You don't want to do it, mind you, but you can and it saves the school money if they force you to. This is especially true if you are a customer (an unpaid position in the fiscal heirarchy). The school pays for the staff's time but not your time. So it is cheaper for them to make you wait than it is to give you good service. This is why you can never find a person to help you in a departments store. Those people cost the department store money and you waiting around annoyed doesn't.

It gets worse when you consider that the information revolution has done similar things at the office. Where I work, engineers are expected to do secretarial work like booking travel plans instead of having secretaries do it for us in less time at their lower pay. Some how through the magic of the internet, a $30/hour engineer spending an hour figuring out the internet travel system is more efficient than a $15/hour administrative assistant doing the same thing in 15 minutes (because the secretary does it all the time). Smart real smart.

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