[insert name]

On two separate occasions in two different jobs (one fairly recent, i.e. about 20 minutes ago) I have had to deal with someone who thinks that all human communication should be standardized, codified and made as free of variation and spontaneity as possible. For these people, each email sent should adhere strictly to a set format containing pre-defined language, no matter how simple or unambiguous the message. One boss even asked me once, with a straight face, to show him the “script” I used when calling customers, and seemed stunned when I told him that I didn’t have one. That I just, you know, talked to people.

I have two problems with this approach. One, the boss is assuming that I have no communication skills and can only speak/write to other human beings if I can read from a script. What would Turing make of it all?

Two, it fails to recognise that most people would rather have what at least seems like a genuine interaction rather than receive something which is very obviously written by committee. How many times have you zoned out or lost the thread while listening to an automated response or recorded message? Or, more likely, grown frustrated with impenetrable, inflexible, impersonal officialese?

And yet, for some people, this kind of thing represents the height of efficiency.