If there are any repeat readers (hi! and welcome back!) you might remember my post on the T-shirt index.
I finally got around to reading Freakonomics, which was recommended to me by somebody who read that blog post. It was damn entertaining, and had me nodding my head and grinning most of the way through, even though I was trapped on a 14 hour flight at the time.
I realized there are other indicators that I use as a mental barometer of Where Things Stand. I’ll try and blog about these on a more regular basis. The first of these, which I was discussing with Wez on Friday, is the Little Notes Indicator.
The Little Notes Indicator can be seen in action in any place where a largish group of people must share communal space. I have seen it in the following places: shared houses and apartments, workplaces, community spaces, and agistment (livery for the English and boarding for the Americans) places for horses.
In all of these places you will find a note or two that one person has left for other people. We have one in the kitchen at work. It says, "Please put your dishes in the dishwasher." This is completely reasonable and similar signs are found in virtually every shared kitchen I have ever used. A single Little Note is normal.
When Little Notes proliferate, it is a sign that communication has broken down. If each day is greeted with a new little note (and possibly a new rule for sharing space to go with it) it shows that people have stopped speaking and just entered a period of resentment. In shared houses this is usually an indicator of the imminent demise of the sharing; in workplaces an indicator of low morale among staff.
When Little Notes start having phrases added to them such as "or else" or when they begin to appear in capitals ("OR YOU’RE OUT") you know you are in trouble. Other signs of trouble are increase in frequency, the use of colored ink, bigger signs, signs on top of signs, or people writing addendums to printed signs.
One place I used to visit had new signs each day which were circulated so that each individual had their own copy. They were written in ALL CAPS, and always peppered with phrases such as ‘OR YOU WILL BE EVICTED’ etc. Each sign inevitably followed somebody doing something not even particularly annoying that was previously not against the rules. Once things start to snowball, there’s no going back.
Please God let me never be the author of such a missive. </rant>