Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


You've probably noticed there's something going on  between Apple and the FBI.

It's a little like Mayweather/Paquiao, except in this one punches are actually being thrown -- over a phone assigned to a terrorist by his government employer.

Has it ever struck you, though, all this technology might be more trouble than it's worth?

It's a delight to send a whole message in emoji and imagine the delighted face of the recipient. But our lives are being recorded. One day, these recordings might come back to incriminate or at least embarrass us. Or both.

This is something that Sony Pictures discovered just over a year ago.

Certain nefarious types -- North Koreans, 13-year-old boys in remote parts of England, disgruntled actors who didn't get a part in a kung fu movie, who knows -- hacked into the company's computer systems.

They released troves of emails that didn't show Sony executives and other Hollywood types in the best light. Yes, they revealed what seemed depressingly like the true, cold light of reality, devoid of any director of photography.

You can't have that in Hollywood. It ruins the whole image.

Michael Lynton, head of Sony Pictures, had to do something about it. He has a business to run. He has a brand to protect. He has smoke and mirrors to sell.

He can't allow emails purporting to be from producer Scott Rudin calling Angelina Jolie "a minimally talented spoiled brat" to be placed beneath public eyes.

So he's gone back to his fax machine.

You remember those things, don't you? They're like printers but they work even less often. They used to be perfect for making rather artistic pictures of, say, your buttocks or your nose.

"My fax machine is in great use at this point," Lynton told the Code/Media conference. "I write it out by hand and then I put it in the fax, at least once a day. I'm not being facetious. It's surprising how quickly you can write something down on a piece of paper and shove it in the fax."

Personally, I find writing things down on pieces of paper quite hard these days. This is largely because I've forgotten how to write.

I take a pen in my hand, yet all my fingers want to do it press down independently rather that stroke the pen around in unison and make interesting shapes.

Yet here is Lynton understanding that privacy is vital and modern technology simply doesn't provide it.

Worse, technology wants us to do things ever more quickly. I certainly find myself replying to texts and emails quicker than I want to or should.

This results not only in hilarious misspellings, but also in replies that I regret, to one degree or another.

Lynton says his use of the fax machine underlines this.

"Sometimes, slowing things down for a minute -- that's not the worst thing in the world," he said.

Modern technology insists that we do things quickly. It wants us to serve its systems and exigencies, rather than act according to (what remains of) our instincts.

Imagine, though, returning to the fax machine.

It wasn't always so secure, was it? Faxes would come through to a central machine and random workers would happen to read things and immediately gossip about them.

So your fax machine still has to be kept private in some way. Still, as long as you're sending faxes between strictly private machines, perhaps it works.

There again, you've written something that is just so. You slip it into the machine to be faxed. Then the paper jams.

Nothing's ever perfect, is it?