Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thoughts of a Pawn

There's a glass chess set in the break-room which no one uses. I'm not sure why it is there--possibly because it looks like intelligent people would use it. It sits in the middle of a table stacked with businesslike magazines, never dusty, its pieces haphazardly jumbled. I often amuse myself with taking a turn or two on amongst the improbable arrangement of pieces; originally, this was to see if anyone else felt like playing tag chess, but now it is just because I am sorry for the neglected board. Today, I was surprised to see that my carefully randomized board game had been "fixed." All of the pieces were in their rows on the far sides of the board. Clear glass was on one side; clouded glass on the other. Except the pieces were not in the right places! Some well-meaning organizer had simply put them into neat little rows. The queen was on one end in the pawns' row, and two rooks stood side by side next to her. A pawn stood where the king ought to have been. I felt like crying. It symbolizes, in many ways, all I have learned about the textbook/course production industry since I joined Logos. We're very good at producing neat little packages which look intellectual: in some cases, they actually are. But with the outsourcing of writing, editors without content expertise, and managers intent to organize without understanding the material, there is little here of pedagogy. Anything I write will be hacked to bits; any historical content I advise can be bludgeoned. I am expected to list historical resources, but they are not reviewed. Time and workflow and organization: these are tantamount. This is a business. What else should I have expected?

I put the chess pieces back in their proper places.

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed a similar disconnect between packaging and content at my warehouse. We make mistakes, that's unavoidable. And I can understand and even empathize when someone grabs the wrong color paint or a gallon instead of a quart. It's when we ship an oar instead of a gallon of paint that the full picture strikes me. People aren't using their depth of vision to see the world: they're only skimming the mental labels half-heartedly. When I use my imagination to extrapolate to the whole of the corporate world the wasted minds are legion.