Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Curiosity Kills the Cat

We had a wonderful time at my son's Master of Engineering convocation.  Seen here

So, the lady giving the speech is very famous, and she had just visited top universities in Shanghai, and Cairo.  All the students were very bright, but the Chinese students didn't question anything, and the Cairo students were very pessimistic.  All wanted out.

My son has a great job where he enjoys intellectual freedom.  Other people in the place are only confined by their blinkers.  Someone was manually converting files in a tedious manner, and he said "Let's Google it" and quickly found a script that did a week's worth of work in 10 minutes.  They were glad, but you don't want to be that brilliant guy in the office who does all this without credit.  Soon, they step on you!  Still, he is in the Age of Innocence.

I was that guy when I first joined the old company.  I never did anything tedious, always found a better way.  When other people were doing things 'stupidly', I stepped in and increased the productivity ten fold.  It was great, and we were building things.  Then came the thought crimes.  I couldn't mention 'stupidity' in another department, so I constructed a 'thought box'.  I just stayed in my own box.

We stopped building, and the thought crimes increased.  Couldn't increase somebody's productivity because it made them look bad.  Increasing productivity ten fold put somebody out of work!  Then they collapsed my box to zero.  Couldn't look at the internet because it was evil.  Couldn't go for a certain solution because it was a thought crime.  I was always getting into trouble because my concept of the box was bigger than their concept!

In Canada, we are run by big monopolies that declare everything (internally) a thought crime.  Naturally, new ideas must be confined to a very narrow band of acceptability.  Rewards are given to ideas that one would think would be part of their job!

To the new graduates, I suggest staying out of the confines of thought crime (although they pay very well).  And as that lady said, it is better to travel.  Expand your mind for at least a few years, before 'reality' sets in.

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