A commentary on the nature of outsourced helpdesks, perhaps? Although, IME, the problems are more due to 'sticking to a script' (which would have given an entirely different exchange) rather than an unknowledgable and casually uninterested 'service'-person. 188.8.131.52 05:15, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
- I think this is the idea behind the comic too. Kind of like a "What if it had happened today?" It sure sounds like the kind of hotline support we get today. Deantwo (talk) 10:29, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Reference to Continuum? (Canadian sci-fi show) 184.108.40.206 06:41, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Ebola? Really? Where is that..what? 220.127.116.11 09:34, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Also, I took it to refer to people being distracted on the phone in general (hence the title text) or generally not taking their jobs serious. Maybe the idea that for NASA, space travel has become so routine that mission control is no longer as engaged in the missions. Djbrasier (talk) 09:38, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
- But then it wouldn't make sense, that he says he's at work.--18.104.22.168 13:36, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
There are a LOT of anachronisms, or things that don't match the way things were back in the 1960's, not just the flat screens. (And I do still remember the sixties, despite "if you can remember the sixties, you wern't really there" - a reference to the drug scene.) We didn't say "cool" or "you suck at doing that" back then, and it's very unlikely that communications with the mission and a simple telephone call would be selectable from the same headset, and the michrophones on headsets were larger and probably had dangling wires back then. --RenniePet (talk) 13:22, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
It could be a commentary on privatizing space travel by NASA (among others to Boeing). Would explain, why Cueball knows it's a "airplane or whatever".--22.214.171.124 13:36, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
I understand it's a reference, but is this supposed to actually be the Apollo 13? I understood it was just another mission happening today. I find the anachronism explanation nonsensical. 126.96.36.199 13:57, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
"At first glance, this comic appears to be an "alternate reality" view at what could happen today, given that most people in the XXI century seem to suffer ADD." I don't think that we can assume this at all. Also, that's not what ADD is. Lomky (talk) 14:16, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
- Yeah. I think it's far more clear that Randall's commenting on unhelpful tech support than anyon'es short attention span. I've edited the explanation above. 188.8.131.52 15:34, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
- xkcd is a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language; humor is not guaranteed. I see no indication that Randall is trying for humor here. NealCruco (talk) 03:22, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
- It must be the math then... 184.108.40.206 00:40, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
Am i the only one interpreting Cueball as a script kiddie with too much spare time who somehow managed to hijack the communication line between Apollo 13 and Houston? The alt text is consistent with the basement dweller stereotype. Wouldn't explain the other call though.220.127.116.11 17:22, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
Nasa just uploaded several audio recordings of their missions on soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/nasa). Maybe Cueball is just playing with those while he is at work. 18.104.22.168 17:31, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
I don't get the context here. Is this supposed to be a biting satire on how the new generation sucks at social tact with their cell phones? How is a guy at NASA mission control being an asshat supposed to be funny or thought-provoking? Even the helpdesk angle doesn't really make sense, as inept as they can be I've never had one outright antagonize me like this guy does. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I found the comic to be more of a reference to that of a "friend" who does not care what your problems are and doesn't wish to help you solve them- like if you had lost homework or forgotten to do a project and called your friend at the last minute, he would mock you for your incompetence and blow you off. I found the comic to be a little pedanticism, as if what if mission control was filled with the "friends." I had no thought as to tech support... Maybe because all my tech support has been helpful. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The problem in call centers is that the businesses that run them cannot afford to train all incoming staff in the entirity of the technical knowledge required to actually be able to diagnose problems, so they design a "script" to be followed so that the staff can determine the problem and explain the solution. However, for those that do this job day in and day out and constantly have people calling with the "Same problems, over and over", they get really good at predicting when someone's situation is leading to a certain forgone conclusion in the script, and may develop a disdain for the callers due to the problem being "so painfully obvious how to fix, why does this person need to call me to fix that? Why don't they know how to do it themselves?" Which is caused by the fallacy of treating the entire job as being one experience with a single userbase rather than individual experiences with individual users. For those that are less versed in the technical knowledge that are just trying to do their jobs, their reaction when receiving this attitude tends towards "Why are you being so difficult? I called you for help!"
The largest problem created by this mindset is that people start seeing everyone else as idiots because they seem like they don't know what they're doing to the individual, but that's only caused by the fact that they are overexposed to their overly simplistic jobs and thus believe everyone else ought to know how to do what they are doing too - the fallacy here is coming from the fact that all the other individuals have their own specialized jobs - individuals don't get the opportunity to experience anything outside their own job experience very often because their jobs consume so much of their personal lives. Because of these overly simplified jobs individuals throughout the populace all have a sort of learned helplessness - they are all very good at one or two things, but rubbish at most everything else. And since the governments need good consumers to drive the money wheels of the economy, they pacify the intellectual needs of the people with entertainment. Those that still disobey the rules and are not creating enough money and jobs for the economy are jailed. Those that are creating enough money and jobs for the economy then hire lawyers and lobbiests to change the laws to protect their interests.
Of course there is also the issue that since those who are applying for the position aren't always required to have some background training in the field they are supporting, the applicant may have no interest in it whatsoever other than as a paycheck - these folks tend to be the ones that stick closest to the script, because without the script they themselves are lost - these type of personnel can and have been replaced by automated prompts by some companies. By allowing the customer to step themselves through the script, you no longer need an employee on the line to do that with the customer.
The consequence of leaving someone like this to answer incoming requests is that they generally feel their life is more important than the client calling in because they have no idea what they are actually doing other than following a script, and generally don't care, "as long as I get my 40 hours in" , or however long their work week is set to. They see the position as a prison they are submitting to so they can get the money to do what they want/need to in their time off - A job rather than a career. This mindset can be seen all over the employment base of countries that have changed most working environments into assembly line like jobs where each worker knows only one or two steps of the overall process, but almost no one knows the entire process - because if the workers know the entire process, they could easily quit their low paying jobs and start their own business making the same product but cheaper because they would not have all of the administrative overhead.
So overall I'd say the comic is a social commentary combined with a play on the famous events of Appolo 13.