Most of my readers know about my friend who lives on the 104th floor in the tallest building in Mumbai. For those who don’t know, this friend of mine is the richest person in the world. His wealth is more than the wealth of Ambani’s (I mean Mukesh), Adanis, Tatas (including Shapoorji’s), Birla’s and Mahindra’s, Agarwal’s and Mittal’s all put together. He pays income tax as much as the annual budget of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. But despite the financial power he holds, he is an amazingly simple, friendly, well-meaning and a warm gentleman.
Me and my Professor friend are regulars at this rich man’s den on the 104th floor. Last Sunday, we dropped in to say hello and have a breakfast. We were up in less than a minute through one of world’s fastest elevators. When we were ushered to the breakfast table, we were surprised to see Mr Bill Gates there. Both of them seem to be discussing the Microsoft Word.
My friend greeted and introduced us to Mr Bill Gates. Considering the heat wave in Mumbai, a fresh juice of watermelon, imported from the Gansu province in China, was served in a pineapple shaped silver glass. A gold plated bowl was also placed containing Piyarom dates, that are considered as the most healthy in the world. I could see that Mr Gates wasn’t quite used to this style. For my friend however this was the usual.
Since the conversation was about Microsoft Word, let me give you a bit of a background.
The first version of Microsoft Word was developed in 1981 by Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie, former Xerox programmers hired by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. After numerous versions of Word for DOS and Windows, Word 95 was released as part of Office 95. On July 9, 2015, Microsoft Word 2016 was released. Features include the tell me, share and faster shape formatting options. Other useful features included real time collaboration, which allowed users to store documents on Share Point or OneDrive. It had an improved version history and a smart lookup tool. As usual, several editions of the program were released, including one for home and one for business. Microsoft Word 2019 added support for Scalable Vector Graphics, Microsoft Translator, and LaTeX, as well as expanded drawing functionality.
According to my friend, Microsoft Word was playing a very important role in influencing the World in all possible respects. He said that most do not realize the power of this tool. Microsoft Word is used today for a wide range of purposes – ranging from giving appointment letters and writing resignations to publishing research, formulating policies, writing minutes of the meeting and even for sending legal notices.
My friend wanted to talk to Mr Bill Gates to find ways to use Microsoft Word to change the World for better – and towards sustainability. When he said sustainability, I was surprised. Mr Bill Gates however smiled and said that sustainability was one of the most frequently typed word in Microsoft Word. Microsoft’s research showed that every minute, the word sustainability was typed by a million people in Word. I then realized the scale of the “sustainability disease”. Mr Bill Gates added that in the new version of Microsoft Word, the programmers will be adding “Function S” as a quick or shortcut key to type sustainability. I thought that Mr Gates was very kind and considerate to the changing times.
But my friend wasn’t happy with such “add-ons”. He raised a number of questions and made several suggestions to Mr Bill Gates to improve Microsoft Word in the interest of planet.
Firstly Mr Gates, Remove Control C, Control X and Control V features. These features encourage “cut and paste” of the text. Besides causing plagiarism, the reports or documents made using these short cut keys are often irrelevant or out of the context as not much original text is written.
Professor whispered that absence of these features will severely affect the environmental consulting business as this is how most reports get written. I consoled him that its not just the case of environmental consultants but the entire consultant fraternity across the world. All consultants will be adversely affected.
My friend stayed unmoved. He said that he will create a grant fund of 10 trillion USD just to compensate such consultants. I thought he was right. The cost of such a “rehabilitation” was nothing compared to the benefit of getting better quality and impactful documents that will have original thoughts and ideas. In this ordeal, the original writers will be protected and will get a boost.
My friend had one more request to make.
Keep Control F to find but disable the functionality of Find and Replace.
None of us spoke. My friend’s intent was clear. Once again, Professor whispered that this change will severely affect environmental consultants, especially those doing EIA reports. I ignored his concern.
But why are we limiting this discussion to only the (environmental) consultants? Mr Bill Gates asked These changes will affect millions of users of Microsoft Word. For example, students writing their dissertations won’t be able to use “copy and paste” or “find and replace”. We all continued to discuss umpteen such possibilities over a cup of coffee that was from the fair trade certified plantations in Jamaica. In these discussions I thought making one more suggestion.
Remove the Undo feature of Microsoft Word version. It seems that Undo or Control Z is one of the most commonly used short key by the Word Users. Apparently, in every minute five million people press Control Z across the world. While Undo is great, it kind of makes people believe that in real life too Control Z can work! Please don’t get people habituated with possibilities of Undo, as there is never a Control Z possible when you make mistakes in your life. What’s done is done!
All were silent listening to my rather philosophical suggestion.
Several other features of Microsoft Word were discussed that included drop menu on Paste and Reuse Files. A much slimmer and “ethical” version of Microsoft Word emerged. My friend then called for a cheque book to write an amount of 10 trillion USD to Microsoft Corporation for producing a new version of Word. Mr Bill Gates called his secretary to call for a global meeting of Microsoft Word developers to set a timeline to release.
My Professor friend got up and as usual made his last remark.
“Mr Gates, while all here are asking you to remove or disable few of the word features, I want you to add one new button called “summarize”. Given the volumes of word documents piling on the Internet, we desperately need a built in summarize function in Microsoft Word that will have options such as get 50% compressed summary or even a 10% summary if an executive summary is desired. Now a days no one has the ability nor the interest to digest millions of pages written over the internet on innumerable subjects”
I thought that this was a great suggestion.
Mr Bill Gates removed his spectacles and wiped them neatly with a piece of silk cloth. He then looked at my Professor friend and said “Professor, this is indeed a great suggestion. Let me steal a team at Openai to take on this task. We must stop these guys anyways as they are causing a disruption in jobs affecting the sustainability of this planet with that ChatGPT!”
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Brilliant Piece (as usual) Dr Modak. In a few hundred words you have highlighted what ails the consulting space! Hats off!
Thank you Rudolf.