March 18, 2010
CBSSports.com contacted me last week. I assume they thought of me because I’m so sporty. They have a web service that lets you watch live college basketball games, on demand, during March Madness. The web page wisely includes a Boss Button that allows viewers to switch to a business-looking screen when footsteps approach. They asked if I would be willing to design a page that cleverly looks like legitimate work from a medium distance, and yet is clearly a joke up close.
My first reaction was one of righteous indignation. How could they expect me to be a party to wholesale theft of employee productivity? In an era when bankers and CEOs are looting the country, it was time for an honest man to come forward and say, “Enough!”
At some point, a dollar amount was mentioned, and I realized that the person who manufactures a hammer isn’t at fault if someone uses it to slay a suburban family who, for all you know, had it coming. All I would be doing is designing a simple web page; I wouldn’t be forcing anyone to watch incredibly exciting basketball games during work while getting paid at the same time. I call that free will, which I have been told is a good thing.
I agreed to the deal, but a tiny voice in the back of my mind kept pointing out that a hammer has many legitimate uses, whereas a Boss Button can only be used for evil. I knew that this tiny voice was either coming from my conscience, or from my dog who had suddenly learned to speak. I checked my e-mail to remind myself how much I was getting paid, yelled at the dog to stop talking, and got to work.
If you’re curious about the outcome, check it out at mmod.ncaa.com. And don’t blame me if the stock market crashes in March. If I hadn’t designed that Boss Button page, someone else would have. And it might have been Ziggy.
I wonder how much someone would pay for a talking dog.