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Out of Our Minds
Friday, April 16, 2004 10:01 PM
More walls than ever
David Weinberger on Culture

Last week when I tried to go to Toronto for a meeting with a client, the officious official at the border told me that I couldn't get in without a work permit if I was being paid for the meeting in any form. I told her that I was on retainer and thus wasn't being paid for that particular meeting. No dice. I finally had to tell her that I was being paid out of the company's US office, which was sort of true if I didn't pay attention to the bank that actually cut the check.

This morning I had to wait in the lobby for 25 minutes because I didn't have the name of anybody attending the meeting I was supposed to be in six floors above. Eventually, a call to the company's main office scared up a name of someone who was actually by his phone and was able to release me from Security Purgatory.

Yes, I understand there are reasons why life is being made more inconvenient for all of us. But step by step, we're making it harder to do the the most basic, natural and important function of business: Share some air. And I hate it.


Phil Wolff - 4/20/2004 11:32:00 PM
It's a design bug, not a necessary evil.

Think spam filter.

Don't you think we can engineer security that checks your bonifides at least as quickly as an inbound email? That automatically badges you and clears you to the right floors, even giving you courteous directions?

Or that shows you how to game stupid challenge and response tests like 'Will you steal a Canadian job on your drip?'

When will the security industry step up to making customer service and a pleasing experience as important and warding off burglers? When embedded poor manners blow deals or someone dies.

Corporate security systems are converging on commodity status. A strategic response could well be to compete on the sunny side of the street. Can they make the cultural shift required? It will call for holding two conflicting thoughts at once: each visitor is both a potential friend and a potential threat.

If they can pull it off, you may find something approach Disney's approach and style of security. Unobtrusive to the point of near invisibility. Gracious on approach. Nice to be around. Courteous to a fault. Culturally sensitive. Helpful. Preventive. All while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism.

We can only hope it comes sooner than later.
Brian Jones - 4/19/2004 8:28:24 AM
The term 'necessary evil' comes to mind. It seems that the masses are paying for the ignorance of the few.
Brian Jones - 4/19/2004 8:24:29 AM
I'd like to think of them more as fences then walls. Just like the rodents that make it through my backyard fence, so do the parasites that seem to make it through our borders.


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