From an article in the New Yorker by Paul Goldberger
Of the old NY Times building:
The building was originally designed around the gargantuan printing presses that filled the basements and the delivery trucks that lined up in front. Writers and editors worked upstairs, in a crowded newsroom with few of the amenities of a conventional office. At one time—when it was filled with metal desks and clacking typewriters, the smell of ink and cigarettes and the yelling of city editors—this might have bestowed the kind of old-time newspaper mystique associated with plays and movies like “The Front Page.” But in the mid-seventies, with the first of a series of awkward attempts to adapt to the demands of the computer era, the noisy, competitive atmosphere began to dissolve. The deadline bells and the shouts of “Copy!” faded, and soon the newsroom felt more like the back office of an insurance company than like the nerve center of a great newspaper.
Of the new design:
Inside, however, the newsroom feels enormous and austere, with a kind of corporate coolness. The interior was designed by the architectural firm Gensler, and it fails to emulate either the unusual quality of the building’s exterior or the amiable rambunctiousness of an old-style newsroom. With its sea of cubicles partitioned by wood-veneer cabinets, it is vastly more sophisticated than any workplace the Times has ever had, but sleekness has brought a certain chill (though the effect will be pleasanter when the birch trees go into the still unfinished courtyard). You also don’t get much sense that anyone has really rethought the idea of the newsroom in the electronic age. Ultimately, it’s hard not to sense that the Times, so determined to have a building that makes a mark on the sky line, had a failure of nerve when it came to the interior.
Of the Bloomberg design:
To see a newsroom truly designed for the electronic age, you have to head across town, to the headquarters of Bloomberg L.P., on Lexington Avenue, which was completed two years ago. If the Times newsroom is an unadventurous space hidden within an architecturally important building, Bloomberg is the opposite: a dazzling work environment tucked inside a refined but conventional skyscraper, designed by Cesar Pelli
And then this little tid-bit:
No one, not even the chairman and the chief executive, has a private office. Instead, some four thousand employees sit in uniform rows at identical, white-topped desks bearing custom-built Bloomberg flat-panel computer terminals. Although the desk of the C.E.O., Lex Fenwick, is larger and is set slightly apart—“I am not wholly pure,” he told me—he sits just a few feet from the young employees who handle customer inquiries and complaints. “I wanted to make the point that we are a customer-service business above all,” he said. Large, flat-panel monitors hang from the ceilings, flashing constantly updated numbers: how many customer-service people are working at that moment, how many calls they have answered, how long it’s taking to answer the average call that day.
The workers are in much closer quarters than those at the Times, and you might expect the atmosphere to be one of a sweatshop, but sweatshops don’t usually have rotating displays of contemporary sculpture or the tanks of tropical fish that are a feature of Bloomberg’s bid for corporate cool. All in all, the Bloomberg newsroom is one of the most exhilarating workspaces I’ve ever seen, with both the high energy of a trading floor (where the Bloomberg products are consumed) and the buzz of the newsrooms of old. And, as with those newsrooms, visibility is key to the effect. On every floor, there are glass-enclosed conference rooms, couches for impromptu meetings, and even a series of small, glass-walled rooms for private one-on-ones—but you are always visible. Or almost always. Tucked away on a lower floor are a pair of tiny windowless, fabric-lined rooms where employees can retreat, presumably when the pressure of visibility becomes too much for them. With soft, glowing lights set into the floor, the room is a reminder that all this exuberance has its price, even if the snacks are free.
article from The New Yorker
Here are a few of my thoughts...
Despite Goldberger's praise for the Bloomberg approach/design it strikes me as a bit of a bait-and-switch move by the Corporation. The promise is of a kind of corporate socialism, and yet it would appear to be an obvious hoax. After all, we all know that the errand-boy is the "least of these" in a Corporation - and for good reason. Everyone is not equal and the perception that "every opinion is valid" simply strikes me as disingenuous.
Furthermore, the setup reminds me a bit of Best Buy's image of "good customer service" that ultimately just takes you through a labyrinth of bureaucracy. The result is that even though every customer service rep has a function no one ultimately knows what they are doing or how to handle problems that deviate from the template, i.e. problems that arise out of the real-life usage of products.
And what about breathing room?
How can you breath at Bloomberg (or any other contemporary Corporate-model) with all those people???
How about this for a take on the 21st century Corporation:
No thought is original, anymore. Everything belongs to the group consciousness. A new matrix of the corporate making - The individual is swallowed up in the Corporate identity under the pretense of equality. And yet, pay scales still differ.
And who is ultimately in control, anymore? Is there really a collective consciousness? Or is this just groupthink on steroids?
Who, for example, is responsible for my debaukle at Best Buy? The blonde is following orders, the Geek Squad has no real expectations for competance (hence the name), the online follow up has no real ability to override. The real freedom-threatening matrix is self-imposed. An endless line of signs without signifiers - people filling positions that ultimately do not completely connect.
Is this happening in pop-Christianity? To an even greater degree?
Pop Xianity may be the greatest culprit - churning out more material (literature, multi-media, etc.) than ever before in her history and all in a completely sterile and uniform manner that reflects the general groupthink of the Xianity Matrix.
A LOVE SUPREME
If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.
Monday, August 20, 2007
From an article in the New Yorker by Paul Goldberger