Wednesday 29 March 2006 — This is 17 years old. Be careful.
I’ve been asked to fill out a Statement of Health form for a life insurance benefit. I hate filling out forms. On the semi-cool side, it’s a PDF form, so Acrobat lets me fill in the fields, and then can print the result. On the extra-annoying side, Acrobat is so proud of this feature, it puts up an alert explaining it to me about once a minute, even after I’ve already filled out part of the form. Also, there’s no way to save the work I’ve put into the form other than to print it.
The worst part about forms, though, is that they are the quintissential boiling down of a person to a series of pre-categorized factoids. Some, like the one I’m filling out, seem to imply a judgement as well:
To prevent delays answer each question and give full details to “yes” answers.
[ ] yes [ ] no: In the past 5 years, has any person on whom coverage is requested had surgery, been hospitalized or consulted with a doctor, had blood or other diagnostic tests (other than for HIV antibody), or been advised to receive medical treatment?
Excuse me? Have I consulted with a doctor in the past 5 years, and if so, please give full details? I would think they’d want full details if I hadn’t consulted with a doctor at any time in the past 5 years.
No sane person would ask this question this way, but the efficiencies demanded by modern bureaucracies seem to require scrambling human interactions and turning them into these sorts of robotic inquisitions.
People who make PDF forms seem to turn all this garbage on without thinking about the consequences for the user.
In the end, I just printed the form and filled it out by hand. That way you also don't get pestered by stupid validation rules that don't really apply or have your data truncated to ridiculously narrow field lengths.
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