Some immutable laws of the universe. No, seriously. Being aware that all these forces are at work all the time can reduce the stress of your day, or at the very least stop you from shouting “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?” at people in the street. Shouting at people is bad. Shouting at machines is fine though. I feel we’ll be doing more and more of that in the future.
“never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. May be derived from Heinlein’s “devil theory” of sociology – “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity”
“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
C. Northcote Parkinson also famously made the breakthrough discovery of “injelititis” – the chemical reaction within organisations when the concentration of incompetence and jealousy among senior management reaches such a level that the whole organisation becomes moribund.
The Principle Of Least Astonishment
(the below taken from ‘Systemantics, The Underground Text of Systems Lore’; Gall, John; Second Edition, 1986)
The Fundamental Law of Administrative Workings (F.L.A.W.)
“Things are what they are reported to be”. Alternative formulations depending on context include: “The real world is what is reported to the system”, “If it isn’t official, it hasn’t happened” and “If it didn’t happen on camera, it didn’t happen.” The Internet has given us the pithier and more universal “Pics or it didn’t happen.”
Directly related to F.L.A.W. is “If the system says it happened, it happened.”
This leads to system-induced Functionary’s Fault.
Functionary’s Fault: A complex set of malfunctions induced in a Systems-person by immersion in the System, and primarily attributable to sensory deprivation (that is to say, to lack of alternative, or contrasting experiences).
Gall identifies a subtype of Functionary’s Fault as “Hireling’s Hypnosis: A trance-like state, a suspension of normal mental activity, induced by membership within a system, May strike at any time, afflicting anyone from chief officer to night watchman, and quite capable of jum,ping large distances to infect innocent bystanders.”
Communication & Information, or Knowledge for What?
“The pursuit of Information-as-such confuses means and ends. It is a form of madness best exemplified by those Government Agencies that carry the word Information or Intelligence in their titles.”
“Readers who appreciate the importance of COmmunication Theory are sometimes puzzled to run across references to Information Theory. Information Theory is a mathematical treatment of what is left after the meanings have been removed from a communication.”