No Angel, Our Ian

The keynote speech this morning was Ian Angell, Professosr of Information Systems at London School of Economics. Titled “Beyond Good and E-Ville,” his initial question was “What is computing for?” The answer seemed to be, “Not much.” The Conference laptop that housed his slides apparently had pre-screened them and knew Ian planned to trash computers. So, it simply refused to work, which more or less proved his point that relying on computers wasn’t very smart.

Ian’s other target was businesspeople, whom he continuously referred to as businessmen, who are being “forcefed the latest trendy IT garbage.” They are dependent upon computer-generated data and ignore context. Ian calls them “methodolics.” Think alcoholic when you try to pronounce it. Some notable quotes from the talk:

Methodolics try to force tideness on an untidy world

When you’re in a hole, stop digging

Ambiguity can’t be resolved by methodology

Efficiency is bad for business

The computer is a symbol of business virility

Numbers are not objective

There is no such thing as an absolute fact

Never put your faith in knowledge management

When you think in straight lines, you can’t see around corners

Essentially, Ian’s talk, although entertaining, sometimes scatalogical, and more than a little politically incorrect, was a plea to put context into computing and to give more credence to human intelligence over artificial intelligence.

I’m not sure this was a message with any great novelty value for the Online Information audience.

Marydee Ojala, Editor, ONLINE: The leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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