I received a letter from my local hospital today (Friday) saying:
"We are writing to confirm your appointment (for the first time - ed) on Monday" (I was due to be in Scotland on Monday).
I wouldn't be too upset, but it was part of a very worrying programme of treatment, for an appointment I had been waiting for for 6 weeks. There was a particularly laughable clause in the letter saying....
"It is important to us that you have received a choice of date and time for your appointment.....
If you do not attend your appointment.... you may be referred back to your GP"
Crikey, not much time to exercise my choice.
That weekend, we had a picnic, with some hard boiled egg.
I noticed the following helpful warning inside the lid of the egg-box:
Allergy Advice: Contains Eggs!!!
That was close.
These two incidents are related. Technology allows us to force data upon other people. In a way, under advisement from lawyers, that allows us to feel that we have protected ourselves from litigation.
Consequently we either increase anxiety, or burden of activity, for an enormous number of people.
If we were to measure the negative psychological impact (in lost dollars, of course) of these defensive mass-market campaigns, and compare it to the savings they generate for society, my guess is that they would be in at least a 10:1 ratio.
Its a shame though, but I guess we'll never know!
There is one thing to do differently.
If you have to do something that is to help improve the lives of other people through the production of information, by all means, involve lawyers, but limit their fees at the start of the project to £500.