A hundred years ago the military got better equipment than businesses did, now that has changed.
Twenty years ago, businesses had more powerful kit (computers, cars…) than consumers did – not any more.
Five years ago adults had more powerful equipment (phones and laptops) than teenagers did – not any more.
What’s the next step?
(The style of this blog post is inspired by Seth Godin’s excellent blog.)
Back in World War 2, the US government created an intelligence and dirty tricks agency called OSS, or the Office of Strategic Studies.
One of its wartime actions was to produce a Field Sabotage Manual. This document has recently been declassified and can be viewed here. I am indebted to Bruce Schneier’s excellent crypto-gram newsletter for bringing it to my attention. The manual contains all sorts of useful instructions for sabotaging trains, generators and other equipment -but for me the best part of it is section eleven, which instructs the saboteur on ‘General interference with Organizations and production’ which runs from page 28 to 31.
Among the tips for causing chaos and making an organisation unworkable are many that will be familiar to customers of government departments everywhere, such as the recommendation to ‘Apply all regulations to the last letter’.
Section 11 in particular of the document is well worth reading. It is hard to believe that the author did not have a strong sense of humour, and it is sobering to think that way back in the forties, wise minds working for governments could see how damaging such practices are to an economy and to the morale of the population.
I travel a lot with my work. It goes with the territory. And I visit a lot of hotels. I don’t know whether it’s memetics or the result of hotel industry conferences, but lots of hotels seem to have similar notices in their bathrooms. You know the ones that say ‘Do you care about the environment?’ and go on to blackmail you to use the towels multiple times. I’ve no issue with using towels for more than one day – after all, we all do at home (right?…), but these are frequently the same establishments that are blasting airconditioned air out of the front entrance rather than shut the door, or that make no attempt to recycle empty bottles from the bar. In the bathroom of one very fancy place where I stayed a couple of weeks ago, the bathroom contained the sign in this picture. When you read the message, bear in mind that this is a place in Northern Europe with a heated outdoor swimming pool. Saving the planet my backside!
It’d be so much better if they just told the truth.