Sat 12 Apr 2008
Posted by Ib under cultural theory
The I assume young but nevertheless venerable Larval Subjects has an excellent post on the destructive nature of what I’ve been calling “Auditland”, in which work practices are subject to the long and failed history of cognitive bureaucracy, that same bureaucracy founded not only by cold war scientists, but by the likes of Hayek, ironically in the supposed service of freedom. I’ve been working on this for a long time, whenever the anger subsides long enough - and I can escape said bureaucracy long enough - to work calmly and sensibly. In any case, here’s a draft of something I’ll probably try to cut back, improve and publish one day. I’ll leave it up for a while at least if anyone’s interested. It’s impossible long and perhaps clunky, but is maybe becoming at least a little timely.
I guess I wanted to add something else on reflection. No, this is not the thing we all have to say at this juncture - “of course I’m in favour of quality” (well of course I am but I’m already enveloped in the rhetorical haze of Auditland the moment I say it). The final note is rather that Audit cultures resist even what would seem their own logical outcome, if such cultures were truly serious about the real world working better. They tend to haunt the non-Deleuzean middle ground of the great avoidance - avoidance of either what is going on on the ground, or of the more interestingly abstract, the theoretical, the idea. Occasionally you see glimpses of what might happen if audit culture drifted closer to the ground (I doubt we’ll ever see it head towards theory/ideas). A few years back I saw a news item on root cause analysis. Now I’m no friend of continuous improvement (ok - not that I’m against improvement, it’s just that I’d rather spend my time improving things than improving my improvement of things). However, at least root cause analysis sometimes finds that the problem might be the bureaucracy (in this case in the health system).
And if you see what happens when people really want things to work, it’s pretty amazing. I go to Denmark a lot and I’ve been lucky enough to talk with quite a few designers and academics there about innovation. What can I say - they really do seem to have figured out how to make things work (and they still go home at 4-30).
At the same time, maybe The Big Lebowski got it right. Maybe the question is about “what condition our condition is in”. Now there’s a question.