Carbon Asset Units

I was reading my friend Paul's comment on open plan cube farms and discussing it with another friend.

We felt that perhaps the division of the space into cubes and offices was reinforcing the feeling that cube occupants were "human capital". Certainly a large scale cube farm can have the feel of the stockyard about it (although many people will never have seen one due to the death of local markets).

The original usage of "capital" (orig. Latin capitalis "of the head") was as shorthand to refer to the amount of farm animals that were owned, since these were counted by the head (as in "heads of cattle").

I have never much cared for the various euphemisms for "employees" that have gained favour in recent times: "human resources", "human capital" etc. I'm sure they were introduced in an attempt to persuade stockholders and investors that employees were a good thing. But internally they end up dehumanising. What's wrong with "personnel" ? Presumably it doesn't allow the mental trick of considering all employees equivalent "resources" to be swapped around at will, rather than as persons with unique abilities, knowledge, attitudes and concerns ?

My friend then coined the term "Carbon Asset Unit", or CAU for short, to refer to cube occupants. It is, of course, pronounced "cow".

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This page contains a single entry by David published on October 19, 2005 6:01 PM.

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