Automation Nightmare: just what IS so wrong with paper based systems?

We have become so accustomed to automated systems in almost every aspect of our lives; everything from booking a train ticket to downloading a tune to flossing our teeth: there’s nothing in the world apparently that can’t be automated, or which can’t benefit from the collective minds and wisdom of keen young men and women who wish to do away with the messiness of everyday life and replace it with the shiny new bullet of automation.

Organisational procedures are a case in point. Where once we had paper based systems for recording our attendance, our interest and whether we were any good at things or not, all this is being swept away in the joy and apparently trouble free system of the web based, automated system which can conjure up data at frightening, tera-rates of activity. Trouble is, whilst supremely seductive, shiny and dazzling in their cleaniness, automated systems also suffer invariably from varying degrees of stupidity. You will no doubt have countless stories of lost train tickets, i-tunes that are tuneless and teeth that fall out as a result of your over enthusiastic flossing toothbrush.

What’s particularly frustrating is the apparent unwillingness of these so called intelligent systems to admit their stupidity and allow for a degree of unknowability to be flagged up on the website once you start using them. Paper based systems may well have been messy and unreliable – but at least you could screw them up, kick them into the waste paper basket and start all over again.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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