I copied this off the WWW somewhere, damn if I can remember where. It's
the abstract of a paper by a guy named Erik Bloodaxe or something like
that, a professor at an Eastern Elite University(tm). The paper deals with
what is called the Productivity Paradox.
"The quandary of information technology (IT) is that, despite astonishing
improvements in the underlying capabilities of the computer, its
productivity has proven almost impossible to assess. There is an
increasing perception that IT has not lived up to its promise, fueled in
part by the fact that the existing empirical literature on IT productivity
generally has not identified significant productivity improvements.
However, a careful review, whether at the level of the economy as a whole,
among information workers, or in specific manufacturing and service
industries, indicates that the evidence must still be considered
inconclusive. It is premature to surmise that computers have been a
paradoxically unwise investment."
I work for the CON, right in the belly of the beast--I work for the
GOVERNMENT. Where I work is a fairly small operation by corporate
standards. Over the past eight or ten years, personal computers have
appeared here and there on various desktops. Viola! The productivity
paradox has reared its head. More and more computers sold to management
as productivity increasers, but no apparent increase in productivity. And
the reason is -- the SubGenius(tm).
A computer turns up on a SubG's desk, and what's his first instinct? Well,
yeah, okay, AFTER he gets his wang out of the floppy drive, what does he
want to do with that computer? He wants to PLAY with it, that's what. Now
any SubG who works for the CON, especially GOVCON, has long since figured
out how get a week's worth of work done in about three hours of miserable
haze on Monday morning, so as to have the rest of the week free to seek
Slack. He got his work done on Monday, this is Thursday, drank as much
coffee as he can stand, still too early to take off, gotta do something.
All the Pinks are SCARED of this techno-box, afraid they're gonna break
it--but the SubG WANTS to bust it. It's just a Slack-sucking piece of
crap. Or maybe if it doesn't bust too easily, he can get some FUN out of
it. Well, looky here. Push the buttons, get some MAGIC PICTURES. Push
some MORE buttons, see what happens. All right! MORE MAGIC PICTURES!
The result is that the SubG becomes the guy in the office who actually
knows how to use the computer. Now he gets his week's work done in about
25 minutes, but he sure as hell isnšt going to let management know that.
Their reaction would be to give him more work. He just wants to finish up
that stupid CONCRAP so he can get back to playing with the box, or
otherwise seeking Slack.
The Pinks are always whining at him, "Oh, could you show me how to do
so-and-so? You know so much about computers." The Pinks just want to
leave a saucer of milk in front of the CPU and burn some incense, avoid
knowing what goes on in there, hope something gets done, but the SubG has
been INSIDE the temple.
Hešs been DRINKING BEER and shooting craps with the daemons. They OWE HIM
MONEY! "You sorry OS! Get your lazy virtual butt out there and format that
floppy! LIFT dat spreadsheet, TOTE dat database! Haw, haw!" *Belch*
If management really screws up and gets an Internet connection, of course
it's one more thing for the SubG to play with. And, since everybody in
the office agrees that he's the guy who knows so much about computers,
management BELIEVES him when he says, "Well, I think a Usenet feed could
really do a lot for productivity around here." Nobody else has a CLUE
what Usenet is, especially not management dorks.
Now the CON is always watching SubGenii, got those uncooperative attitudes
and rotten mouths on them, but as much as they want to, lower-level
management is AFRAID to get rid of them. "I'd love to fire that
loudmouth, but if I did, I'd either have to do all that work hešs been
doing myself, or get somebody else to do it, and nobody else knows how. I
sure would like to know why he's always sitting in his cubicle laughing
his ass off, though."
Then Big Management comes down and says find somebody to design a Web page.
Little Management craps his pants; he doesn't know JACK about W^3. The SubG
brings in the Web page he downloaded at home three weeks ago from an HTML
demo site, updates some http links and tells Big Management he thinks he
can get a page up and running in a couple of weeks if Little Management
will stay the hell out of his cubicle. Little Management goes away, another
perforation in his ulcer, and the SubG has just gained three weeks of
"I think it would be very helpful if I could have an ISDN line in here to
prototype this Web page." ALL RIGHT! Three straight weeks of posting to
alt.slack and downloading alt.binaries.pictures at 56 kilobaud. I wonder
if I can get an SGI Indy?
Professor Bloodaxe says, "A puzzle remains in the inability of both
academics and managers to document unambiguously the performance effects
of information technology (IT). Four possible explanations are reviewed in
turn: mismeasurement, lags, redistribution and mismanagement. The paper
concludes with recommendations for investigating each of these
explanations using traditional methodologies, while also proposing
alternative, broader metrics of welfare that ultimately may be required to
assess, and enhance, the benefits of IT."
This may be some kind of head-scratcher to "academics and managers" but not
to the SubGenius. HE's the reason for their "inability to document." And
SubGenii donšt even have to be warned not to reveal this "secret." IT
Try it. Print out this post and show it to some management Pink. THEY
CANšT SEE IT. That's right. They aren't able to read whatšs printed on the
paper. Oh, the Pinks will know there are some kind of marks on the paper,
and will know in a general way they mean trouble, but the Pinks are
constitutionally unable to understand the logic of the explanation of the
Productivity Paradox. "Yes, yes, that Internet stuff is very amusing, I'm
sure. Is the staff meeting rescheduled to the big conference room? Why
wasn't I notified?"
Jim the Prophet
Licensed SubGenius Preacher