05 June, 2008

Ted. E Logic

Longtime readers may recall that filing systems (and the absence or random application by drunken gibbons) are a particular bugbear of mine. Things are no different here, where the paper files are in relatively good order* but the electronic filing beggars belief, with about half of what we need to know stored in a dreadful morass on our shared server space. The previous manager (the one who went on long service a year ago never to return, and who's yet to be replaced) insisted on storing everything in perpetuity, so there's over a decade's worth of "historical" material there, amongst which current documentation and procedures wander like lost souls in limbo.

Lacking the resources and sheer drunken bravado (and hoping to cling to at least some shred of our collective will to live), a couple of us decided that rather than try to beat this monster into shape, we'd start afresh in a clean wiki, where things could be structured and tagged to make them actually useful once more. There's also a lot of stuff kept in people's heads (cheap polyester cushion stuffing in some cases) which we want to get into the wiki, too,


Ted E. has been haunting me since I got in this morning, searching for a process that he's sure must have been written down because he's sure he saw someone writing notes in a meeting where it was discussed several weeks ago: "I want to know this. Why didn't anyone write it down for me at the time? Why don't you remember it being discussed at the meeting you had that day you were away?"

Naturally it doesn't occur to Ted E. to write things down at meetings. His participation there tends to revolve around how management is letting him down, why we need written processes that he can then ignore, that he's tired of doing work that's above his salary level (functional literacy apparently falls into this category now) and how things were better in the olden days. He's been violently opposed to the idea of the wiki from the idea's inception, arguing that everything we need to know is in the Morass, if only someone on a higher pay level would devote their remaining life and sanity to cleaning up the electronic equivalent of Chernobyl.

Perhaps I'm being a little harsh. "Perhaps" and "little" being the operative words.

Ted E. gets tired of waiting for someone to produce what he's looking for, but even he's now wary of trying to venture into the Morass for useful information. Desperation finally sends him to the wiki, where he finds the information he's after, demonstrating that despite his protestations of ignorance (and, believe me, they were more than plausible) he's actually capable of using it to find and retrieve information. Except ...

Now he's convinced that original version of the file is somewhere in the Morass, and has decided to go back and search for it there as a more trustworthy source. Presumably if he doesn't find it there, he'll it there just to avoid using the hated wiki again.

* So it's actually something of a shame they're largely unnecessary and duplicate information already stored in several other places.

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