The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

Human Digital Emulation

Government agencies had embraced computers as a giant leap forward in communication and information management. Millions had been spent to replace existing paper based processes. Initial optimism plummeted, however, as digital technology caused chaos and collapse in successive government and public service organisations.

Following the IT problems which caused the shutdown of the National Health Service, my consultancy was commissioned to urgently report on what had gone wrong.

We closely examined the hardware and software but it seemed entirely adequate for the job. I was so perplexed that I took the unprecedented step of visiting a hospital to see what the doctors and nurses actually did and to try to understand why they were so unable to service the needs of the computer system.

It was a complete revelation. No IT consultant had ever before met users of their systems, and the problem was immediately apparent. Human beings were behaving in ways quite differently from computers. Something clearly had to be done to change human behaviour to better fit the needs of IT systems. Thus began ‘Human Digital Emulation’ or HDE.

The first step was to digitally rename the population. This initially led to major practical problems; firstly in people remembering a fifty digit string of ones and zeros, and secondly in the sheer time taken to say their names. This was significantly eased when names were converted to hexadecimal.

Other renaming was also introduced, with physical medicine being designated ‘hardware engineering’ and psychiatry being described as ‘software engineering’. This changed proved very popular with the ‘data’, as the patients came to be called. Being described by ones doctor as ‘having a software difficulty’ even contained some kudos that was greatly preferable to a previous diagnosis of being totally mad.

Properly archived data storage, or residential homes for older people as they had previously been known, ensured that data was no longer simply lost. Inability to locate where a relative had been placed had previously caused much distress to nearest and dearest.

Backing-up of data was initially, of course, a significant problem. Advances in fertility treatment eventually ensured, however, that twins or triplets were a feature of most births. Cloning allowed backup of single births. These precautions afforded great advantages to employers who were able to call upon a backup copy when idle, malingering staff claimed to be physically ill or suffering from stress. Spouses also found backups useful when the original copy of a partner became corrupted and left them.

Back with the original problem of the NHS, data was able to be analysed by smart programs and processed vastly more efficiently by robots. Medical staff were able to properly devote their days to sitting in front of computer screens and typing on keyboards without the distraction of interacting with patients.

Now that HDE has allowed everyone to conform to the needs of computer systems, the NHS is once more proudly able to boast support of data from boot-up to shutdown.