24 August 2007

Wonko the Sane and Gubble-Gubble. A software opportunity?

You know how it is? You’re reading a paragraph, reach the end, and then ask yourself what, in the name of Beelzebub, that last damned paragraph was about. You shrug in reply and go back to that twilight zone between animal and vegetable, whilst bracing yourself for the next paragraph.

There is nothing for it but to find something more interesting. On this particular occasion, it involved reading Neil’s wonderful blog entry ‘Porridge, Wonko the Sane and restrooms: the good, the bad and the ugly of user assistance’

When I returned to the dismal task of reading through documents on Microsoft’s Business web site Something strange had changed. The next paragraph, and the subsequent ones, just read like gubble gubble. The idea of Wonko The Sane had distorted my reality. His wisdom had lodged in my brain, and wouldn’t flush out.

‘It seemed to me,’ said Wonko the Sane, ‘that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to include a set of detailed instructions for us in a packet of toothpicks was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.’

It is not just documentation and instructions for computer software that have diverged from common speech and discourse, and taken on a life of its own quite divorced from its original purpose. Some of the literature of software in the Microsoft business site seems bizarre because it has become unhinged from its purpose of communication in favour of a hypnotic repetition of marketing mantras designed to appeal to the emotions rather than the intellect. I don’t blame them in particular; the western world of business seems to have retreated into a strange private language.

people-ready business …gubble gubble…brittle business processes …gubble gubble… maturity continuum …gubble gubble…monolithic line-of-business (LOB) applications …gubble gubble…complex development tools and processes. …gubble gubble…agile and adaptive paradigm shift …gubble gubble…true partners of a business. …gubble gubble…Interoperate…gubble gubble…Core Solutions …gubble gubble…scalable data infrastructure …gubble gubble…Scalable management processes. …gubble gubble……seamlessly interact …gubble gubble…Feature-rich …gubble gubble… Attack surface…gubble gubble…Per-service basis…gubble gubble…transform valuable enterprise data …gubble gubble…can leverage the capabilities…gubble gubble…A true corporate asset…gubble gubble…ongoing business value. …gubble gubble…a scalable and extensible architecture…gubble gubble…An adaptive application platform …gubble gubble…strong business partnerships …gubble gubble…Aligning IT with the Business …gubble gubble…empowering people, …gubble gubble…driving the business forward.

I sat up and blinked, shaking myself out of the hypnotic state that reading these phrases invoked

What if Microsoft people really spoke and thought like this? I present to you the opening paragraphs of…

The Diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man

I woke up, in a ‘one stop’ process requiring a subtle paradigm shift. I was in my bed at home, a complete integrated platform. The Sun⢠was streaming through the Windowsâ¢. The world outside seemed people-ready. To drive decisions on getting out of bed, I enumerated multiple insightful, timely reasons for aligning with domestic goals in a familiar and powerful way.

On reaching the kitchen, I achieved unparalleled connectivity in the kettle by plugging it in, and leveraged the capabilities of the toaster by switching it on in real time. Today, I felt I had a flexible and connected infrastructure around me. I empowered the agile and adaptive cat at every level by opening the cat-flap

I Drank multiple cups of Feature-rich coffee, a default slice of familiar and powerful toast followed by and optional one on a per-egg basis, and adopted best practices in the bathroom to support daily bowel operations. I seamlessly interacted with the bathroom mirror to transform the valuable face and exceed expectations. I interoperated with the toothbrush.

To support the bottom line I got into my trousers I added a belt in order to benefit from higher trouser reliability, improved manageability, and enhanced support. I felt I had reduced my attack-surface.

Once dressed, I could focus on the high-value task of getting to work and thereby maximize my interoperability, visibility and insight for more accurate resource allocation, prioritisation, and risk management. How optimal, I thought, to once more speed up delivery of business-critical solutions that deliver higher growth and comprehensive profitability, to achieve visibility, collaboration, and control

So it was once more down the garden path to start the journey to my office at Microsoft….

 

Thank you, that’s quite enough. Here we have an obvious software opportunity. You’ve heard of Readability indices haven’t you? These are software packages that you apply to the text you have written. It tells you instantly the ‘reading age’ of what you’ve written. Journalists on the Tabloid newspapers generally have to write their stories so someone with the reading age of an eight year old can cope. What about a Wonko index, a measure of the Marketing Techno-speak in a piece of writing. It simply counts all the Wonko phrases and computes an overall ‘Wonko’ score. Surely all software developers who have ever tried to plough through the business-oriented gubble-gubble of the IT industry will assist in flushing out those characteristic phrases and developing the software? 

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