Things Disappear

We still don’t know where Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared to, but most things disappear into the depths of the mind. That’s what happened to the radar operators who noticed a blip on their screens headed out over the Indian Ocean — but then didn’t notice it any more. When the tapes were reviewed, it was too late.

And that is what appeared to happen at GM when reports of repeated malfunctions on ignition switches were ignored. The defects were first noticed a few years ago – and then they disappeared. It happened at banks when risk managers noticed their over-leveraged debt, but then did nothing – and forgot about it.

It is worth reflecting on this in the age of big data and continuous surveillance in which we have so much more information than we ever thought possible. As Pico Iyer wrote in The New York Times: The disturbing truth is that “Whatever the field of our expertise, most of us realize that the more data we acquire, the less, very often, we know.”

It’s not just that we have too much data. We don’t know what to look for and we often don’t recognize it when it’s staring us in the face. “The universe is not a fixed sum, in which the amount you know subtracts from the amount you don’t.” The problem is finding meaning in the facts.

It takes a special kind of vigilance to monitor the unconscious, what you don’t particularly want to know – but do! That is what my blog is devoted to: www.keneisold.com. You need to notice anomalies and gaps, disparities and disconnects, repetitions and silences.

Starting this week, I will continue to post weekly, now regularly on Mondays, but I will also be adding occasional “Hints and Glimpses” of items in the news, intriguing stories that suggest more meaning beneath the surface.