Saturday, May 12, 2018

The essence of bureaucracy?

All projects of any scale are bureaucratic, meaning:
  •  there is some pecking order, 
  • some chain of decision making -- especially when there is "other people's money" funding the project -- and 
  • some means for assigning responsibilities (followed, consequentially, by measurements and accountability)
And so, I was struck by this passage which asserts the "essence of bureaucracy": (my emphasis added)
"... with writing all of [the project] minutiae are written somewhere, and the assemblage of relevant documents defines the identity and power of [the project office].

Writing has thus enabled humans to organise entire societies in an algorithmic fashion. ...  In illiterate societies people make all calculations and decisions in their heads.

In literate societies people are organised into networks, so that each person is only a small step in a huge algorithm, and it is the algorithm as a whole that makes the important decisions.

This is the essence of bureaucracy."
"Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" 
by Yuval Noah Harari
In other words: The algorithm made me do it! 

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