Friday, February 6, 2009

The Myth of German Efficiency

In my day job, I work with Germans a lot. And for the most part, while perfectly pleasant to work with, they totally conform to the stereotype of being incredibly anal and hidebound.

But efficient? Not a chance. In fact, I would say they prefer to make work for themselves -- and therefore, me -- than do things in a faster, easier way.

Here's an example I wish were NOT typical. Someone I interviewed for an article said she had some emails from her colleagues supporting some of the points she'd made in our interview, and that she could send them to me. So while I was putting the article together, I emailed her requesting them.

In a couple of hours (efficient), she sent back an email containing 3 attachments. They were jpegs. Odd, I thought. But I opened them anyway. Each jpeg contained a single quote -- the promised quotes from her colleagues (not efficient).

So I opened each jpeg separately and tried selecting the text, copying it and pasting it into another document where I had all my notes for the article. This was a very cumbersome process and it took about 15 minutes to get all 3 quotes into the section where I wanted them.

Then, the next time I opened that file, they weren't there. Instead, there was some kind of error message saying they couldn't be "read."

So I started all over again, opening each jpeg individually, this time transcribing them into the document so I could be sure I didn't lose the information. So a task that normally would have taken less than a minute had wasted about a half-hour. (And this doesn't even include how much time it took to create these mysterious jpegs in the first place.)

Is it just me, or is this incredibly inefficient? Wouldn't it have been easier to just send the quotes in the body of an email?

I'm counting on the one techie who reads my blog to post a reply that will explain this.


mermommy said...

well, i'm pretty tech savvy and i don't get it. maybe once upon a time, somebody requested jpegs because they were going to place the text into a web site or place them in a word doc, but it sounds like she is exercising what must be german logic.

Joseph LeMay said...

It could be that the jpg files are the only place where she had the quotes readily available. if that's the case, then you can't copy and paste them into a text document (like MS Word) as text, so it's a matter of either her doing the work of transcribing them or you. She picked you, I assume since you're the one who wants the quotes.

Goody 2 Shoes said...

i have never even heard of text being in jpegs...good thing you were able to decipher the quotes

Goody 2 Shoes said...

no weekend post? where are U Joan just when we need you?!