Mindworks’ Weblog

Thinking Matters

Meetings, bloody meetings

Posted by Andrew Cooper on January 2, 2007

Meetings are, to my mind, the ultimate necessary evil. It’s not that I don’t like meeting people – I do. People are great – all of my best friends are people. It’s Meetings with agendas, minutes etc. that fall into the ‘necessary evil’ category rather than, say, meetings in pubs which are an entirely different thing. I sometimes wonder how Meetings (as opposed to meetings) evolved. There must have been a point in human history when this happened, and it was probably about 5,500 years ago when writing was invented because before then it would have been very difficult to take minutes or write agendas. Until then, all meetings must have been a bit like meetings in pubs. Those involved in each of those proto-Meetings probably thought that they’d solved the problem of life, the universe and everything but because they weren’t able to write, their next meeting covered pretty much the same ground as all previous meetings. Result: we spent about 50-80,000  years of our species’ time on this planet not making a great deal of progress.

Even more intriguing than that 45,000 year plus year writing-free gap, is what’s happened on the writing front in my lifetime. In 1973, when I started my first job (four years after the first members of our species landed on the Moon) the height of writing sophistication was the electric typewriter.  And not everyone was allowed to operate those. Instead, there was a ‘typing pool’ in which women (they were all women) turned my hand-written minutes of Meetings into neatly typed notes.

Now, a blink of an eye later in terms of human history, I’m able not only to ‘type’ these immortal words myself but I’m also – with a click of a mouse – make them available to anyone in the world who has a computer connected to the internet.

How on earth did that happen?

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