Thursday, April 06, 2006

Big brother syndrome

SO someone’s on watch over me. Could be an Orwellian petty Big Brother with terminal brain dysfunction and a huge penis envy. Maybe an honest-to-goodness brother’s keeper.

Barely a month after wading through the various sites plied on the intranet of a global firm, I began receiving via snail and electronic mails a gamut of reading materials-- trade journals, slim manuals, tracts, the works. Officemates wondered why I was getting such bulk of printed matter from the mails. Some reads were outright Greek—say, evaluation of geological strata that can point up presence or build-up of natural gas and crude oil. A few were too technicalese to chew through—uh, prevailing wind directions and other climatic factors in ambient air quality, long-term impact of tetra-ethyl lead on groundwater purity, recommended fuels to generate higher kiln temperatures for firing stoneware pottery… Who’d stew his neurons on that?

I sure also feasted on vital statistics— sabi nga’y ang hindi lumingon sa butas na pinanggalingan, walang utang na loob na may erectile dysfunction. Mountaineers have an explanation for it: “Because it’s there.” Such pleasing sights also give beneficial effects to one’s blood pressure as recent medical findings have it.

Each site I visited offered a serving or two of information quite accessible for the layman. I trudged through cybersites, left my tracks uncovered. A tracker was after me, it turned out. The consequent flood of additional inputs was an eye-opener.

Curiosity led me to a trail of data. Anyone who kept tabs on the sites I pored over for days, prying for a tidbit or a nugget of facts, graphs and pictures—that watcher led me on toward the huge mass of data I wanted to gnaw through. ‘Twas a reassurance: “Seek and ye shall find.”

It was a variant to the Hansel and Gretel trudge through uncharted woods. Left to starve amid a forest, the siblings dropped morsels of bread as guideposts of sorts they can go back to in case they get lost. Birds ate those morsels— clueless siblings had nowhere to go. In my case: when pickings for morsels of data hit a dead-end, those unseen guardians or watchers plunked down chunk after chunk to keep me chewing for more.

The search through hyperspace was an introduction of sorts to an online community sharing similar, maybe uncommon interests, a locus if not focus of activities. It was also a call for help— “more inputs, please.” Added dose of reassurance: “Ask and it shall be given unto you.”

The bad news is that those cyber-guardians ain’t Filipinos.

They’re probably Indonesians. The multinational outfit I worked in then had opted to farm out ICT—uh, the lump of information and communications technology—operations to any country ICT unit that would give the most services for the least cost. Country ICT units from the Asia-Pacific Basin plied bids to for a chance to be the sole ICT service provider for the region’s operating subsidiary companies. Office scattlebutt had it ICT operations were awarded to the Indonesian geeks. With Indon geeks taking charge of ICT services for the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, any country in the Asia-Pacific Basin with an operating subsidiary, local ICT departments chucked their geek workforce. Upkeep of computer hardware was farmed out to a handful of technicians. The move spelled less costs, more savings for the multinational, and an awful awakening for geeks.

It turned out that those cyber-watchers from Indonesia went out of their way to help fellows digging up nuggets of information, a thought or two through cyberspace. Ah, those halcyon days...

I'm back to being a journalist-- death threats, libel suits, and all that jazz on the chase for my behind. I edit the Journal website. These days, Pinoy big brother geeks are doing their cyber-surveillance on the sites that I call on in the worldwide information superhighway. They’re different from Indons. Their snoopy ways can be appreciated by recommending a barber to do a triple-heart by-pass on ‘em, preferably with an ax.

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