Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Wed 5th Apr, 2006

Infuriated In Cook

I got a letter back from DEST today from an address known only as ''. I can only assume they think they're being chummy and helpful by calling it 'palsbox' and not 'replies' or 'useless-bureaucrats' or 'corporate-mouthpiece'. Because I certainly can't tell the difference between any one of those from this letter.

It answers none of my questions. It instead starts with a pallid and meaningless platitude about how they're already looking at some kind of strategy for using the internet in education. It's apparently called "Learning in an online 2003-06", which indicates even more bureaucratic mindlessness: not only can't they copy and paste titles correctly, but they don't even get it proofread. It then goes on to try to quote chapter and verse, before finishing abruptly to say that they're working on complying with Copyright Agency Limited's wishes. No signature, no information as to who sent it, no nothing. A stamped date - amazingly enough it's today's. I'm lucky it's a compressed black and white TIFF file, at 87 K, because at 2480x3507 pixels it could have been so much worse.

Part of me can accept that this is a busy ministerial office dealing with hundreds or thousands of letters, emails, faxes and phone calls all asking for individual attention. It's impossible to give them individual attention without spending far more time and money answering all the questions than actually doing something.

But that bit is overwhelmed by the feeling that the response is no response at all; that my question has not only been not responded to correctly but its actual import (that Copyright Agency Limited's request is not valid) has been completely ignored. That the form letter lacks so many hallmarks of a realistic response - signature and attribution, timeliness, layout, relevance - seems to me to indicate that this is not just bad work, it's active nastiness. To go any further along the road of the justifications in the previous paragraph is to invite the ridiculous: "They didn't even have the time to make it look like a personalised letter, or name who wrote it. They're obviously so busy that they weren't able to actually address anything I said at all but instead had to parrot the party line."

So my response is going to be a letter to the Prime Minister's department (which seems more ironic than anything) telling them that I am not happy with the standard of work from Minister Bishop's office. I'll probably try to find a nice way of pulling out the flamethrower, planting it firmly against the coccyx of the respondent, and lighting 'er up with a combination of napalm, nitrous oxide, acetylene and iron filings - a way of responding directly to the letter I received that says I was not happy with their service and to actually try to get a sensible, to-the-point response. There's a temptation to also claim that they've appropriated government stationary, since the complete lack of attribution makes it impossible to prove that the Copyright Agency Limited hasn't written this out holus-bolus.

It would help if I felt that any of this would actually change anything.

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