Wednesday 13 October 2010

Getting Adam's apple but missing Eve's bite

Not a job for machines
I have many a time been at loggerheads with management at the workplace where they have refused to manage and tried to use technology to do the job they should be doing as managers.
I could very well remember once when I was asked to monitor the traffic of a particular employee because his manager thought he was not being productive.
My candid view was that the manager should call the person in for a chat and involve Human Resources if required but this was not a job for technology to do.
It is unfortunate that many organisations tend to inject technology into what should be effective interaction with people; it gets so bad that people sitting next to each other spam each other with unnecessarily cumbersome emails to the point that they begin to misunderstand each other and conflict brews.
Bosses using SMS messages to convey serious life-impact decisions because they have no nerve to address the matter face-to-face.
Who says what is?
However, the most amusing development of this kind of abstraction is exemplified in the patent that Apple was granted [1] to censure “age-inappropriate” messages between youngsters on iPhones.
I found that quite amusing because it infers that technology would identify all so-called “age-inappropriate” language with missing the context of the usage of multi-purpose and multi-contextual words like virgin (new, green, immature) cock (bird, prime), sex (gender, spruce), pussy (cat), kiss (proximity, give-up) to give just a few examples.
False security
Obviously, with this patent which is a sop to the angst-ridden parents or guardians and do-gooder child-protection activists there is the assumption that youngsters cannot develop their own parlance and communication to convey meanings uncommon to adults.
One good example of this variation of meaning was given by a commentator a few months ago, “My step-mother is wicked” would traditionally mean she is bad but could well mean that she is fantastic – I see a patent to confusion giving a sense of false security and protection where once the youngsters realise the censorship they’ll either switch phones or extend their vocabulary.
Shirking the right deed
What is required to good education about healthy communication to develop commendable habits not a filter of communication that would no doubt have big holes in to soon even if the filter is adapt to catch changes in usage and context over time.
It could well be used to prevent communication altogether and what is to say in American someone would not challenge the curtailment of free speech because some decency police squad is sat in Apple’s Cupertino Headquarters getting titillated with youngster expression of adult intent.
Apple might well offer a “freedom from porn” guarantee but I am not as convinced that having gotten Adam’s apple they have prevented Eve’s bite.

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