Bhekinkosi Moyo
Bhekinkosi Moyo

Disorganised by my ‘organisation’

In his book, The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb furthers the argument (he introduced in Fooled By Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets) that in life there are rare events, normally outliers, with impacts that are decisive and often irreversible. Such events happen in a world called “extremestein”. The improbable always changes one’s life forever, 9/11, for example, was one such event.

I had my own version of a “black swan” today. It is not comparable to 9/11 or any other event which changed the course of life for many. But if not handled carefully, my own version of a black swan — small as it is — might actually change the course of life for many around me. So it is not funny at all that I lost all my important documents by an unconscious “touch” of a certain key on my PC, if that is what transpired. I am not sure what exactly happened. But it is drastic.

Instead of stressing and crying into the night, I decided I would dedicate my energy to random thoughts on words: PC, stress, organisation, folders and control. Over the past several months I have not been inspired to write a contribution for my Thought Leader blog. Not because there were no juicy or worthy topics, I was just not feeling the urge to write — ideas came and quickly evaporated into thin air. This I suppose is the fate of many writers — having to wait for that moment when you are inspired and really fired up to write endlessly whether from some stream of consciousness or from randomness. Today was one of those days for me. What I am about to describe could have possibly pushed me to temporary heavy drinking, sulking or, even worse, a sleepless night, seeing that it was almost nine in the evening when I just discovered the worst of all expected events in my world of operation. I am talking about losing important documents I have worked hard for a long time to compile.

I love the information technology revolution. My life has been easy ever since. I can work from any space — public or private — and yet today it seems as if I have just been made to pay back for all the ease. I have been so careful, creating folders in my inbox, marking them professionally with all kinds of names (conferences, personal files, programs, reports, proposals etc) and till today this seemed to be my daily routine. I read my emails and sent them to their rightful folders. Those that I think are not worth keeping, I delete and at the end of the day, I empty my trash folder. I have done this ever since I started owning an email address, work and personal. It has been great, well up till today.

Today my organised self was my worst enemy. I am not sure what happened but whatever it was it has shown me that I have no control over what is in my PC. Whether I deleted my folders unconsciously or unaware is neither here nor there, the point is I cannot get them. After frantically asking the IT person to retrieve them for me he came back with even more devastating news. “To restore the folder, we would have to set up a new server and restore everyone’s email accounts and then we would lose all email since last night’s backup. That sounds pretty disruptive,” he said. To be sure, it would be.

I have to accept that I won’t get these important folders back. Life must go on. I have become a slave of technology. When I was disrupted by this event, for a while I was clueless. I panicked, cursed myself, the PC and everyone who could have played a part. It was as if I had just hit rock bottom. I wonder what you would have done if you were in my shoes tonight?

I have just made a promise to myself never to be beholden to a PC and its machinations. Important as it is to me, I have decided to defy its rules and temptations. I will use it for my needs and not the other way round. Is it ironic that this unfortunate event drove me to writing again, an exercise I have not done for some months? Such is life — a crisis provides an opportunity to do things differently.

  • Takwana Makaya

    Bheki, it is interesting especially events that change our lives altogether. I am sure we should replicate the idea to our beloved Zimbabwe and look at events that changed the meaning of humanity in Zimbabwe. Such events could be the birth of dictatorial leaders, events such as the craftiong of AIPPA, events such as the u-turn of a Zanu (pf) critic (Prof Jonathan Moyo)to becoming one of them. even though the English said, if you can’t beat them then join them, the event of Jonathan join Zanu (pf) gave life to the death of humanity in the political circles of Zimbabwe.

    it would be interesting to look at events that have profoundly changed Zimbabwe for the worse; our president wants to be a young man, why? He married a young lady, that marriage event led to the president to want more time in power, so as to satisfy the needs of the young wife.

    Lastly, colonialism as an event that is being used by African leaders to stay in power and brutalise their political foes; If there was no colonialism, especially in Zimbabwe, i wonder what Zanu (pf) could have been saying when campigning to get the mandate to lead Zimbabwe because they always make reference to colonialism. Lastly, if there was no colonialism [as an event that changed history], Zimbabwe could not have been having the blood thirsty leadership it has and Jonathan Moyo could have been hold accountable to the Ford Foundation Funds.

  • Mgwili

    Well, I hear your pain bhudi wam. The worst part is having to re-write or re-do stuff that you know you have already done. It sucks like hell! I just hope you recover from this. Its amazing how beholden to technology we are these days – when it works, it works, but when it fails, it really fails and turns our world upside down!

  • Just Me

    Please tell that IT guy he is telling lies through his teeth or perhaps incompetent or maybe, just maybe your IT department does not have proper data recovery in place. It is possible to recover data for just one PC.
    When you are done WRITING and getting all excited by data-less-ness , escalate you problem and refuse to listen to that IT guy, tell him to hire a data recovery specialist if he doesn’t know how to do it.

    Its very bad to loose your data – it can change your life indeed!

  • Jimmy D

    I had a laptop stolen in a burglary and I did not have a full backup. Absolute nightmare and cost six weeks of work to recover from…contributing factor to bringing down my business in the end. Moral of the story? Back it up!!

  • Piet Opperman

    One word. Backup.

    If it is important to you, back it up. Your organisation will back up what is important to them, or not. What is important to you is not necessarily important to them.