An occasional sputtering of literary output, rants and opinion.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Mordac the preventer of Information Services

In the DreamTime before we began capturing the world in little spots of ink and light and magnetic spin and making it all flat, sterile and contained; we used to imagine totem animals to help us remember the virtues we needed to enact and the pitfalls we needed to avoid. Today we must find substitutes in media figures. To some extent much of pop culture is the redirection of the energies that used to animate folk religion. So where a young man would once have sought an encounter with an animal figure that would allow him to model his bravery on it's behaviour a young man of today might instead choose a movie star or pop idol or cartoon character to embody those traits he wants to refine.

Where a young woman might once have had the wisdom of the elders and prayers to the river spirits or the Virgin Mary to guide her on the road to adult fertility and health; she might today turn to Avril Lavigne for the same guidance.

But animism (which is my subject) is not only the seeking out of potent metaphors of behaviour to be modelled; but also a rich source of cautionary tales of behaviour best avoided.

Which brings me to the title of this post: Mordac is what I fear becoming in the wrong environment. I have worked with people like Mordac, and the BOFH attitude is Mordac with his pants unbuttoned, and active malice rather than dull evil. I understand all too well how Mordac got to be the way he is, charged with administering something that he cannot truly control, or even understand (Do you dear reader understand even a significant fraction of the interactions that allow you to read this post...?) blamed for everything that goes wrong and held responsible for things that didn't even exist as problems when he was hired. Mordac is not a happy camper, but his response to this situation is not particularly useful. He becomes more controlling, attempting to corral the beast he has been saddled with, and with it the people who drive it and break it (mixmastering the horse metaphors here) he may be responsible for keeping the system functional, but in trying to do so he keeps it from functioning optimally.

My response to Mordac's dilemma has always been an educational and architectural one; if at all possible attempt to arrange the architecture so that people can easily do what they would do any ways without causing damage.


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