Seen through a lens

Last week we had our annual treemagineers gathering in Müllheim, up the road from here. As always, the days passed in a blur, spent bouncing around ideas, concepts and plans for things to come. All very enjoyable and inspiring.

One thing we were discussing is how to assess competence in a person and came up with a list of questions you can ask of someone when attempting to determine this. The process of then running people through this filter flagged up some interesting results and highlighted biases I had not been aware of…

Zeitgeist… we are surrounded and suffused with it, yet often as not hardly aware of it. It can cause us to see things in a distorted fashion – as though we were looking through a magnifying lens.

This reminded me of the distorted world maps sometimes used to portray information linked to geographic reference, a fine example for such graphics can be found in Danny Dorling, Mark Newman and Anna Barford’s book, The Atlas of the Real World – Mapping the Way We Live , which I can highly recommend.  

The map below, for example, represents relative projected wealth distribution over the world for 2015.

Upon reflection I believe we filter and sort information in very much this way, in front of the backdrop of the zeitgeist of the age we live in. Our fast-twitch, just in time delivery, digital era puts a strong emphasis on the visual and the immediate. Hence when we were running people through our filter described above, individuals were falling short that surprised me, until I realized that I was falling prey to this very bias: a person who is very present in written or visual form, usually via on-line media, automatically gains a disproportionate amount of credibility and relevance. When actually it is only when you weigh up these properties against others that might serve as an indicators of competence that you realize the way perception is constantly being subtly – or sometimes not so subtly – influenced and colored by the lens of the age we live in, causing us to over-emphasis certain traits.

The exposure offered by social media presents a totally new challenge when it comes to assessing competence, as it allows people to by very present and massively blow up their profile– without actually having to back up their apparent expertise, albeit with fairly shallow placebos for competence.

So I would suggest not to believe the hype, to recognize this selective magnification of properties for what it is and to take it all with a pinch of salt.

Let’s do some real-world talking and keep it real!

Blindingly obvious

Some things you do not realize you needed them – until someone comes up with it. For it then to be blindingly obvious: you now NEED this very thing – that you were oblivious to just a few days ago.

After all, this is the mechanism that greases the consumer electronics industry’s wheels and our insatiable hunger for all kinds of electronic gadgetry. New ever two? Huh, talk about a euphemism!

But hey, I digress… so what did I come up with today that I think EVERY tree crew should have with them on the job site?

Hold on tight for a biiiiiig idea!

You know that awkward moment when you have just reached the top of a long ascent, totally out of breath, contemplating whether projectile vomiting might be about to occur (sorry, too much information, I realize – but I am merely attempting to paint a picture here). And this is where the awkwardness creeps in: you now ought to let the person on the ground know that the access line is free for them to ascend on.

So how are you going to do this?

Are you going to (wo)man up, take a couple of deep breaths and shout down in a funny clenched voice, whilst trying to sound cool, totally relaxed and not at all out of breath? Or are you going to sound like you have just attempted to run a marathon in wellies?

Well, I have two options I would like to offer you here! Gone are the days of breathless shouting down from the top of the access line, behold…

the treeGONG!

Simply install it at the top of the access line and give it a good whack once you reach the top (alternately, you can also headbutt it, this move is referred to as doing a Rodenhurst). Not only will this let the climber on the ground know that they can now join you in the tree, but also the soft, chime of the gong has an instantly calming effect on your surroundings.

The other route is an gameshow style buzzer that you mount at the top of the access…

This will broadcast preprogrammed messages down at your co-workers. You can choose whether these are neutral (airport lounge-style) or abusive witticisms à la John Cleese.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the access is now free and at your disposal, if you would like to make your way towards the anchor point. Should you require special assistance during boarding, please do not hesitate to let one of our staff know.

or

You call that an ascent? That was more like watching paint dry! Stop sniveling and get your hairy ar** in the tree!

So there you go. The choice is yours: treeGONG™ or ARBuzzer™ – either way, the days of breathless bellowing out of trees are definitely numbered.

And remember: You read about it here first!