1.08.2007

Interactive Form

I found this note on my office door a while back and thought: Oh my gosh, I need to take a picture of that one! You can click to make it bigger, but basically the gist of it is "Hey, do you want your floor cleaned? If so, please PICK UP YOUR JUNK!" The form, in a sense, works to harvest information while giving directions.



Work on document design that gets into workplace interventions often takes forms like this one and gussies them up: user-centered design, information hierarchies, and a new layout. But when I see forms like this one, I tend to think nothing could be better. Sure the poster of the interactive form has to employ a highlighter to get people to respond accordingly, but this little baby really gets your attention!

I mean, would revamping this form into, say, an interactive web form accomplish anything more than this note? In addition, there is what the note implies. I read it as speaking so poignantly to the way textual circulation is integral to the geographies of labor in my building.

8 comments:

  1. But the crucial question is this: you checking YES or NO???

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  2. I made a new blank with handwritten text beside it reading "Help me! I'm trapped in my office!"

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  3. you just made me dribble my coffee

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  4. There's something about a note stuck to the door that lends it gravitas. It worked for Luther, anyway.

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  5. I love (i.e. hate) how bureaucratized academic settings are, even down to
    the floor wax. I'm actually offended by it.

    The one thing that struck me about this very interesting note (printed in
    Courier, or on a typewriter?) is that, in fact, this kind of document has no
    equivalent outside academia. This genre is specific to that environment.

    In a business setting, by contrast, you would not have message posted to
    your office or cubical, you would not receive an e-mail. Your floor would
    simply get waxed. If something were in the way, they would work around it,
    or skip your space entirely until next time. It's kind of like putting out
    your garbage on the curb: either you accomodate, or your garbage doesn't get
    picked up.

    I don't mean to defend the business world over the ivory tower (though at
    times I do, though at times I do the converse), but this is in instance
    where I have to wonder: How much money was wasted on paper, ink, and tape to
    put these on x thousand doors? How much money was wasted on person-hours
    used to have someone go around post these--and then keep track of the
    results? People wonder why the price of education is going up. It's because
    of the myriad little silliness like this.

    Of course, since I work at home, I have very little bureaucracy. But when
    the cleaning lady comes, I get the hell out of her way! :-) tt

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  6. and following along w/ that, tt: why don't the floor waxers simply have the autonomy to do their job!? instead, they need to ask us if it's okay to wax the floors? what a sad sitch

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  7. The culture of territoriality in academia is indeed perplexing. ToT has a theory that it arises from the intense competition for the dearth of funds available for this or that, so when someone gains power, influence, or funding they hold onto it furiously (and fight furiously to take it from others).

    But why professional janitorial staff can't simply do their jobs in a university environment is bizarre. It's akin to secretaries having to post notices on mailboxes for permission to deliver departmental mail.

    As an aside, my cleaning lady has been in janitorial professionally for over 15 years. I use the term professionally quite intentionally: she is a complete pro. She knows the nuances of cleaning different surfaces and dirtinesses, what materials to use, what techniques work most efficiently. She knows how to wax a floor with a machine or by hand. She can make the faucets in my bathtub shine the way only she can make them. I have no idea how she does it. And it takes her 2 hours to make my house as clean as I couldn't quite in 8 hours. I marvel at her and pay her more per hour than I earn...

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