Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Hobbits

They liked to be crammed together in the very smallest room. The more of them there are, and the tinier the room is, the happier they are. Even better if there are no windows. They are talking all the time, and try to never leave the room. When one goes out, the others talk even louder to make up for him. They know each and every detail about each other. Nothing can be hidden. Since they also control every little thing about the company, they know everything about everybody else as well.

You don't even know they exist, down there on the ground floor, behind the receptionist. You thought that was the shipping room. Cleverly disguised. The heart of operations beats concealed from prying eyes. Peel back the door, and there they are, like termites in a stump. They look up with beady glistening eyes. Fresh meat! A new guy. They tell you all about your password (it's not secure enough), your cubicle (don't get too cozy, we'll be moving you again soon), your bicycle in the basement (did you find that thing in a dumpster or what?).

Standing there and nodding, you get a glimpse behind the scenes. A moving map along the wall shows all activity, everybody everywhere and everything they do. It shifts and moves, a tapestry of life, in this case, GPS devices. They know exactly where you are.

It's superficial data, but they can mine and sort. They see tendencies, exceptions, unusual patterns in the night. A red spot twinkles on the wall. One notices, jots it down. Another winks and tells you they're on top of it, no worries. The noise is deafening, a clatter of keys and songs and voices, always voices., chattering.

Close the lid and walk away. Better not to think too much. Tomorrow they will still be there, and even when they tear the building down someday, they'll be the last ones out, clinging to the wreckage, scampering like roaches among the ruins and the bricks.

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