Human Correction and The Pros of Deviation
In all of us there lurks a willingness to step outside the protocol.
Human error is defined as the propensity for certain common mistakes by people; the making of an error as a natural result of being human. It is deviation from intention, expectation or desirability, the definition goes on to state that logically, human actions can fail to achieve their goal in two different ways: the actions can go as planned but the plan can be inadequate or, the plan can be satisfactory, but the performance can be deficient. The definition contains a sort of comforting disclaimer: A mere failure is not an error if there had been no plan to accomplish something in particular.
But how about when the natural result of being human is the key to accomplish that something in particular? It is a tendency that appears to have all the marks of wrong behavior or human error but unlike human error, results in the desired outcome. I cannot find an existing term that fits, we could call this force human correction I suppose, but only if one considers systems of standardization most commonly associated with commerce to be flawed in some way, which I do.
Human correction can be seen in many scenarios, but it is most traceable on a local level, that is to say in exchanges that happen everyday between the shopkeeper and the customer, the bank teller and the account holder, the taxi driver and the gas station attendant. Although some of the exchanges that take place in the name of human correction have a deviant component similar to that of human error, the difference is that these deviations create a positive outcome for the small group directly involved in the exchange. The complication is that this positive outcome only serves at the local level and can often be a small loss at the higher rungs of the exchange such as the corporation or governing body. It is a recalibration technique that we all possess but only make use of occasionally. I want to take this opportunity to provide some examples I have experienced of human correction at work, perhaps these will bring this concept more clearly into view.
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When I arrived I admired the cobblestone. The craft continues to be striking, alternating stones instead of painting them. Each stone so unique, placed by hand with such care. A few days later I was moving some things with a dolly. My romance with the cobblestones had a momentary lapse and I dreamed of the paved roads, even Broadway with the train above would do.
If you visit Arizona, go to the Hope Indian Territory and cattle land just outside of Flagstaff. This land is the shrub-steppe, its dry, the plants grow close to the ground and the land is formed into a series of plateaus. It has the shortest growing season in all of the US and is some of the roughest country in the great states. You will undoubtedly marvel at the clarity of the air, and you will notice your far extending line of sight. There is no atmospheric perspective, things appear sharp and in contrast far into the distance. You will be so engulfed in the wonders of the natural world, of its beauty of its grandiosity, truly sublime. You might wonder how can it be that we made so much stuff atop such splendor? While standing on that plateau you might curse your rubber shoes, your synthetic backpack, your incessant cell phone and the itchy tag in your T-shirt. Maybe you’ll think how we ruined such purity with power lines stretching all the way to Phoenix and with highways perpetually clogged snaking the landscape. Perhaps you’ll feel a sort of nostalgic melancholy because you know just over that rocky hill there is a SHELL gas station with a McDonalds attached.
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Appeared in Margaret van Eyck Volume 2 2018 https://www.printedmatter.org/catalog/55877/
At Penn Station in New York City they announce the New Jersey Transit trains a mere 10 minutes before departure. This means that everyone stands waiting at attention, facing the board. We stand waiting for the platform to be announced. When the designated platform is finally revealed, there are only 10 minutes to scurry to the train before it pulls out. It is absurd, impractical and wonderfully exciting.
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