Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Estate Agents and the Klu Klux Klan

Freakonomics is a book recently published where the 'Indiana Jones' of the Economic world take a sideways look at things we take for granted.

One of the chapters is titled 'Estate Agents and the Klu Klux Klan' , where the authors show the power of information - in the first instance how Estate Agents use their market knowledge to get higher prices for their own house (by a couple of thousand dollars on average). In the 2nd instance it shows how information was used to stop the Klan revival in it's tracks (by giving out information on the funny handshakes in a childrens cartoon).

So what has all this to with IT consultancy? The moral of the story is that when hiring somebody with more knowledge than you (be it a plumber or a Sys admin) be very very careful. More than ever , get references from the candidates and follow them up. If you ask me nicely, I'll tell you a 'how not to do it story' which can't be published here for legal reasons ....

As an aside , to do with information and the power of the internet , take a look at the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina information map. People are using a combination of google maps and blogs to give a real picture of the situation on the ground. While the picture may be surprisingly 'normal' (after all the people posting still have internet connections), it shows that the internet is still producing cultural aftershocks 10 years after it's introduction.

It's hard to ignore people, even half a world away, when they're posting information about how the floodwaters are rising by the minute.