In subtext 161, we published a piece on the proposed office layout of the new Health Innovation Campus. We wrote of a Great Seat of Learning populated by Those In The Know and Men of Wisdom (mostly men, that is, as we know from our coverage of the gender pay gap at Lancaster, see subtext 176) who decided to build a new tower which they called the High Intensity Corporate.
The new tower would have lots and lots of room for the (mostly) Men with Lots of Money (more Lots of Money than the Women, anyway) to visit. Tucked away in the tower would be the Knowledge Producers. It was very important that the Knowledge Producers did not realise how much the (mostly) Men of Wisdom depended on them to attract the (mostly) Men with Lots of Money , and many different methods were used to obscure that fact. Most of the Knowledge Producers were hired on Fixed Term Contracts. This made it easier to Keep Them On Their Toes. They knew that if they were naughty they wouldn’t get another contract when their’s ended (see our piece on precarity, above.)
Another good way of obscuring the importance of the Knowledge Producers was to make them feel small. The (mostly) Men of Wisdom decided that, in the new High Intensity Corporate tower, the Knowledge Producers would not sit together in little rooms. This had tended to foster Cooperation in the Old Tower – a market force the (mostly) Men of Wisdom felt was uncomfortably close to Solidarity. It would also be much easier to keep an eye on the Knowledge Producers if the place looked more like a call centre. Some of the (mostly) Men of Wisdom were quite impressed by what call centres had achieved in terms of ‘employee productivity’.
It would appear that the (mostly) Men of Wisdom do not read subtext. Loath as we are to side-line the humour (attempt at – ed.), subtext would like to spell it out. The plan is to go ahead with the new open shed layout. The thinking (?) behind this idea is that the Health Innovation Campus will be a hive of industry. Desks will be hired out to companies – people from these businesses will mingle with folk from the university and individuals from other corporations and organisations to Shoot The Breeze and interlock with Blue Skies Thinking. Members of the public will be encouraged to come along and engage with debate – meeting that awkward engagement element of the university’s mission statement.
The (mostly) Men of Wisdom are excited at the prospect of creating their own version of Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, the researchers and academics and evaluators will be at these very same desks, working on their large high resolution computers that you can read from several feet way, on highly sensitive personal health records and confidential social care files. Who could possibly object to that?