Flutterby™! : Make-work

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2001-11-19 17:25:08+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Okay, I'm not sure this is interesting, and it echoes a discussion that all of us have had before, but it's an example of the cross-blog discussion that I think is necessary. So Jake told a story about being forced to do outlining as "make-work". Wes commented that about half his college experience is make-work. Dave and Dori had an exchange, in which she said: "Does he think that Wes should drop out of college just because he had to do make-work?"

Well, I did. And I think my life is richer for it. Make-work doesn't require practice, make-work simply requires motivation. Sometimes that motivation is "we'll pay you for it". But as I've said before, if you're part of an organization or entity that values make-work, you need a career change.

It's time to start pointing out in earnest the ridiculous myth that the "education" system is in any way associated with learning. Heck, even people paid by Princeton admit that the university system is mainly useful for filtering (I linked to this earlier). Education as it's been practiced for the past 75 or 100 years is primarily about turning out mindless drones to fill factory jobs, because humans are cheaper than automating the process, and creating automated systems requires skilled labor.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Current Events Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:23+00 by: Dori

if you're part of an organization or entity that values make-work, you need a career change.

Here's my problem with this statement.

In the world I live in, it's a requirement that medical professionals spend a ridiculously large percentage of their time working on paperwork such as insurance forms. According to your statement above, you believe that if someone doesn't like doing paperwork, they should get out of the medical profession.

Do you really want the only doctors left to be the ones who enjoy doing paperwork?

Personally (as I've said before), I think that you should do whatever it is that brings you joy, and as little of the crap as you can manage. But saying that any amount of crap above 0% means that you have to give up the 99% of the work that you love is just self-defeating.

And on a separate meta topic, did you notice if the amount of cross-linkage and discussion with Flutterby went down when you brought the discussion area online? I could have made this post either here or on my blog; because this area exists, I posted it here. I could well be wrong, but it's something to think about.

Backup Brain

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:23+00 by: Dan Lyke

You're right, it does need to be changed: If the only way you can continue doing what you love is with bits of make-work, you should work to change the process. As Jake did.

On the comment areas, I think you're right, and I think my original idea that providing room for a URL and a title only might have been a better way to do discussion. I'm loathe to change it now, but perhaps giving related entries like that billing above the comments, or even on the front page?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:23+00 by: canis

Since most of school seems to be about learning the "shut up and conform, do the busywork like we tell you" lesson anyway, I have to say I side with Jake & his mom on this issue. Sorry Dori.

As for the paperwork question: Is the paperwork required? If so, it is not busywork. The whole point about busywork is that it serves no purpose. I'm sure the paperwork is tedious, but I expect that it has a reason.

I'd like to think so, anyway. If it's not required, why the hell are medical professionals wasting their exceedingly valuable time on it?

Oh, and I dropped out of University, too. And this was for busywork related reasons. I have a good job, and enjoy most of it.

I still spend time doing tedious stuff at work. But the point is that it's tedious stuff that needs to get done, and I'm not afraid of putting in that effort. Just as long as there's a damn purpose.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:23+00 by: Larry Burton

Dori, I think you completely missed Jake's point. Jake's complaint wasn't about having to do an outline, it was about not being given an outlining assignment that would actually teach him something about outlining. He correctly identified it as a mindless task designed, most likely, to give the teacher a chance to do some of her mindless task. The teacher could have avoided the entire episode had she simply given the mindless assignment along with an alternative assignment that would challenge her students that sought a challenge.

Also, on Dan's statement above that you are responding to, I think you are misunderstanding that, also. I think we all recognize that complete 100% elimination of any and all make-work is impossible. It's when value is placed on that type of work by an organization that one needs to reconsider their employment. Accepting that type of work without question can only breed more of the same type of work.

#Comment made: 2001-11-20 07:27:45+00 by: Dori [edit history]

Jake's complaint wasn't about having to do an outline, it was about not being given an outlining assignment that would actually teach him something about outlining.

Go back and read Jake's followup. He says that he realizes now that yes, that assignment actually would have taught him something about outlining.

I get the impression that Dan would prefer that I respond on my blog, so I've done so.

Backup Brain

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:23+00 by: Dave Winer

Dori Dori Dori.

  1. Jake is an adult now, 32 years old, so ask him for an assessment of his education. It's demeaning to talk about him as if he were a child. He's no longer a child.
  2. He found a job where his intelligence is valued. So it's not hopeless.
  3. You tried to divide those who think you're wrong and those who think you're right and you didn't do it in a scientific way. Jake's mother had kids. She was on Jake's side. QED. Your theory about parents and non-parents is incorrect.
  4. Do you practice what you preach? If so I feel sorry for you Dori. You miss so much in life if you sell yourself out.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:33:23+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm still working out the whole "where I want people to respond" thing. As I try to work this into a main page entry, it isn't working.

Dori, I think Jake's mother did use the incident to help teach him a very valuable lesson: She encouraged him to speak truth to power. We need more of that.

On make-work in general, in the community I grew up, which I assume had a fairly low incidence of health insurance, the doctor eventually said "pay what you can, when you can". I don't know if this was a response to paperwork, but last I heard he's still practicing medicine in that community. And, if you're in love with medicine and bogged down in the paperwork, work for reasonable alternatives to the paperwork. Go to the insurance companies and say "this is not acceptable". Pretty much the same lesson.