The anti-social life of information

I was on campus at the OU yesterday. We have something of a parking crisis, which for a campus in the middle(ish) of nowhere, this is bad news. The response to this has been to outsource parking control to a firm who hand out £80 fines. Well, you can guess where this is going – I spent twenty minutes trying to park and eventually opted for a less than legitimate place as I had a meeting to make. When I returned less than an hour later I had a parking ticket. I was incandescent with rage (anyone who witnessed me discovering it might be tempted to add ‘literally’ in to that sentence).

What particularly aggravated me was that I had been in a meeting which was trying to find ways of saving the University lots of money by more efficient course production techniques (I favour use of RSS feeds). At the same time the University was busy raising some extra revenue (and the fee does seem vindictively high) by slapping a ticket on me.

It struck me that this is one of those relatively small things that have a disproportionate impact on staff relations. I certainly felt less devotion to the cause afterwards. As a keen e-worker it made me reflect that for all their evocation of the benefits of real social contact, Brown and Duguid should produce a sequel (they can have the title of this post if they want) which looks at some of the downsides, such as the tyranny of open plan offices, gossip, distractions. I want to set chapter 5 aside for parking…

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