I gotta start somewhere…

April 3rd, 2009

You know, I never thought I would be working in human resources.

I mean, even the term is annoying.  Resources are usually used in one of two contexts, now that I really think about it.  They are something to be conserved, or something to be exploited.  OK, there is the middle of the road too… rational utilization.

But we’re talking about PEOPLE here.  I mean really, you don’t rationally utilize PEOPLE, do you?  (If you do, you have a heck of a dehumanizing attitude, and I don’t like you very much.)  You support people, you empower people (and yes, I know that’s a bad word right now), you lift people up, you celebrate them!

Alright then.  Looking at it that way, perhaps I did know I would be working with people.  I have always loved people.  I have also always loved technology.  That whole people/technology in-between thing has always been interesting to me, and still is.

For example.  I love my new iPhone.  But you know why I love my iPhone?  I love it because of it’s human factors, it’s interface, all of the careful consideration and craftsmanship that went into the organic intimacy of the touch screen, the way you can ‘flick’ to scroll a list, the way that scroll responds instantly, slows down, and slowly coasts to a stop, or stops when you hold it with your finger.

None of that was technically easy, none of that was probably even obvious.  But it works.  It works because that’s the way the world works.  It’s just like a very well-oiled rolodex.  Your body knows this, organically, almost subconsciously.  It’s comfortable technology.  It removes a barrier between the wet, messy, chaotic part of us and the massive world of (largely) dehumanizing information.

I like that.

I really like my new Kindle too.  I mean… the e-paper is neat, the free 3G modem is pretty cool.  The ability to carry around 1500 books in a space and weight the size of a small notebook is fantastic when you do the globe-trotting thing.

But what’s REALLY interesting is what happens when you use it.  I admit I was skeptical when it arrived.  I couldn’t help but think of my old grayscale, monstrous, heavy Apple Newton (yeah, Jobs old boy, you didn’t start out with the iPhone did you?).  But just for the heck of it, I downloaded the book I was reading (Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan by the way), found the page I was on, and started reading.

I hadn’t gone three pages before I stopped reading on the Kindle.  Before I stopped reading on any new technology whatsoever.  I was just reading.

That had never happened before.

Not without a book in my hands.  When I think about it, I don’t really like magazines, and I expecially don’t like newspapers, because the formats are awkward, not comfortable like a book.  But the Kindle crossed that boundary for me.  Somehow, mysteriously, I went from reading on my new convenient, portable techno-toy, to just reading.

I’m still amazed by that.  And before I knew it, I loved my Kindle.  I felt the same joy and sense of comfort I have always felt with whatever book I am currently carrying around.  I don’t know I have ever felt like that about technology.  I liked it yes, but it didn’t hit me in the heart that way.

That’s amazing to me.

Things of wonder, transformative technologies.  They’re crossing barriers I didn’t think would be crossed, or even could be crossed, at least not before super-futuristic high-tech immersive displays (ala Minority Report at the very least), far from the madding mouse, monitor and keyboard.

So, I suppose I should have realized I would be working with people, and technology, and especially what’s in between.  You won’t find me calling it human resources technology, however.   Not here at least.  I’ll call it Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) and the people it serves Human Resources for Health (HRH) to explain, to help people understand it, to make a link to the world they know.

But here, in this space, I don’t have to work in the world we know.  Dehumanizing industrial machine that it must be to think of people as resources to be conserved, exploited, or rationally utilized.  Here, I’m going to practice new language.  Language that descirbes a world where people aren’t resources, where they are people.  Unique, extraordinary, wonderful people.

I believe there is a theory (it’s one I know very little about, so I would be delighted to expound on it at length) that our world, our very reality, is defined by language.  If that’s true, then perhpas the world can be changed by changing our language.

What the heck, let’s see what happens.

Dykki — 3rd of April, 2009 — Gabarone, Botswana