Friday, April 20, 2012

People need people.



There's a notion in the world that people are no longer necessary. Because we have machines--smart and facile machines--we can take people, who are costly and who on occasion take time off, out of the equation.

You see evidence of this belief everywhere you go. In Manhattan, big box stores operate seemingly without people. I walked out of a Bed, Bath and Beyond with a $14.99 shower curtain without paying because no sales help was manning the cash register.

This people-less future notion is rampant in digital agencies and among futurists. People, they espouse are too expensive. Face-to-face meetings or sales are costly and time consuming. You can replace all those interactions with machinery, software and binary code. Or there's an app for that.

We seem to have all but eliminated factory workers from our factories and farmers from our farms.

The problem with the peopleless future is that earth is still peopled by people. And we all need something do. We also need--even misanthropes like I need--people to interact with.
Just now I read an article in "The New York Times" that travel agents are making a comeback. "...nearly one in three leisure agencies is hiring, according to PhoCusWright, a travel research firm. And in 2011 travel agencies experienced a second consecutive year of growth; their bookings account for a third of the $284 billion United States travel market."

One traveler who uses a travel agent said  “I needed recommendations and someone to steer me in the right direction...There are so many [options]... with every site displaying beautiful pictures and tantalizing offers, it can be overwhelming. I wanted somebody from a reputable agency who could say yes, you’ll enjoy this stay.”

Those seem like basic people needs. Needs that appear to be un-meetable by software alone.
All this makes me think. Maybe DIY--do it yourself--is over done. Not DOA but not the cure for all business ills.

People need people.

They need a throat to choke. Or a hand to hold. Or someone to trust.
Just now I listened to Peggy Lee sing her sultry version of "Black Coffee." There's a line in the song, "Love's a hand-me-down broom."

No software will ever be able to write anything so good.


3 comments:

Tore Claesson said...

Your reference to travel agents is interesting. As I've been shopping for tickets for my family many times I've found that my travel agent friends ( I know two persons who still work at travel agencies) I've found that they actually got us a better deal than I could myself find online, despite using many of the sites available and comparing prices. It may be a myth that if we do all the work ourselves we can benefit. People with inside knowledge and contacts still count. Even if they are basically "mer"e middle-people.

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