Monday, April 28, 2008

Anthropomorphizing Entities

I know it's a handy little thing to do, but most of the time, refering to any group of human beings as a living breathing thing probably does more harm than good. Individuals do the breathing, the acting, make the choices, etc... By anthropomorphizing a group we de-emphasize the true actor and instead create a false actor, the entity as other- somehow apart from the people who are it.

Immediately, there is less accountability. Perhaps your friend doesn't like what you decided. In the normal world, his concerns could move you to change your decision. In the anthropomorphic world, you have a large meeting, engage in "brainstorming", which is probably the worst way to come up with ideas ever, make a decision, and then, when someone points out the lunacy, you sort of grimace and say, well this is the decision. The Entity has spoken. To you, the entity has more weight than your friend, even if your friend is part of the entity! It doesn't make any sense!

Plus, part of the anthropomorphic entity mythology is that it doesn't change, and in some cases cannot die. In fact, in law, the modern corporation is considered a person- and inevitably a very favored person because there's no legal equivalent to natural death. But in reality, we know every group changes as it's membership changes. Families change when children are born, and they change when grandparents die. Other entities are no different.

Of course, if I had just not read those books on semantics...
... well, let's just say knowledge doesn't necessarily bring joy.

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