Thursday, August 4, 2011


Have you noticed how bad things are?

Okay, yes, I know all that frame of mind stuff. But come on. One immediate tiny example (indulge me, I'll keep it interesting). I'm trying to learn a flash animation GUI, and their help files are straight text.

I repeat, Straight Text. No Flash to flash them up. And the writing! SOOO well written, and so completely unreadable. I actually read the whole thing aloud using hand and arm motions similar to sign language, complete with facial expressions as though I were telling six year olds a story about how to understand movie making. In homage to how hard the writer tried.

It's not the writer's fault. I can see him or her, desperately reaching across the chasm of terminology and actual human learning, with words the only tool. Trying to make a living out of that English Lit degree Mother said was a waste of time. Management didn't get the specs there in time and everyone's breathing down his (or her) neck to just get the product out already!

My question is this: How many middle and upper management people reviewed all this text? How many marketing people made sure the language was aligned with their messaging to get me to buy something else? How many FLASH ANIMATION designers were involved in the creation of the How To manual? NONE. In 2011, with all those thousands of MBA's out there value-adding all over the place? It's just sloppy. It's badly done. There's no call for it.

Everything's like that. Flimsy. Cheap. Made for the process-makers instead of the users. Even the expensive stuff, I can see those corners you cut. Each one of them. I know what you did. You outsourced this and you sluffed off that, and you planned too little time, too little testing, took the cheapest parts...I know. I helped you for years. Building to last is not an effective business model.

It's too expensive. Doing things badly wastes our precious resources and the most precious of all, to me: Time. All this hurry-up wastes my time in the end, and my childrens' childrens' time a thousand times over. Human beings have the capacity to be better than this. We need to step it up and quit whining.

That's how I feel about poverty. Wasteful, sinfully wasteful. So badly done that I can't fathom how so many intelligent, educated humans could have possibly come up with even an eighth of it.

The more I look, the more I just want to take control of the situation and say, I am your OVERLORD, you WILL be decent people! You WILL treat each other with kindness! You WILL allocate adequate resources to ensure the public good! Or I will DISINTEGRATE YOU with my LAZER EYES! But I digress...

I have come to believe, as a working theory, that four main aspects of the problem are intertwined and underpinning the rest. These are the four things that currently have my attention, my "Key Strategic Focus Areas" (or KSFA's, for those who prefer):

1) Poverty is too expensive. It's dragging us down and must not be permitted to grow or remain at the same rate.
2) Poverty is so expensive because we grossly mismanage our resources
3) In the long run, it's cheaper to do the right thing
4) Society is currently too immature to focus on the long run with any sustained momentum

I'm interested in how a lot of other things come together, too, but these...these get my blood flowing.

At the core is my heartfelt belief* that humans could (should, but we don't say should in our family, so I'll say could) have the capacity to ensure that every life on the planet has shelter, food, water, clean air, some measure of security, and the ability to implement hygiene. It's not an adequate goal but still pie-in-the-sky enough to be going on with.

That we haven't already achieved this provides simply another example of how badly things are done.

*Constructs that come up a lot with me: Heartfelt beliefs, Values, Value, Community, Responsibility, The Plan, Full Potential...more on these in future