raw & managed

raw & managed

11 Feb 2006


It occured to me, that there are two different types of tasks that we engage in. We perform a managed task in a context that was created by someone else. Computer programs, for example. We don't actually do anything, we just give instructions. The context may do what we ask, it may do more than we ask, it may disregard our instructions, it may crash randomly. In a managed context, we are users, we are merely using a tool.

When we perform a raw task, we do something. Think of paddling a canoe or slicing vegetables. We do not tell the paddle to make the canoe move; we don't instruct the knife to cut the peppers. When we perform a raw task, we are responsible for making sure that nothing goes wrong. In a managed task, the 'manager' can prevent us from doing stupid things. When you're cutting veggies, it's up to you to avoid your fingers.

It's not just about computer programs and boats, though. Large organizations (NGOs, governments, corporations) are set up as managed context. The people in charge don't actually do anything, they give instructions to the context, the organization. In theory, organizations have adequate checks and balances to operate as a managed context. A lot of havoc is wreaked when people step out of the managed context -- they can do a lot of damage.