CHARLES

Software program developed to extract and collate information of interest to the Laundry from a wide variety of digital sources and then direct it to internal consumers. Named for the encyclopedist of the bizarre [Wikipedia:Charles_Fort], the CHARLES system was supposed to streamline the Laundry’s monitoring and reporting process. Like any other large software system with an ever-increasing set of requirements and by an endless team of conflicting developers, it doesn’t work as well as hoped.

In theory, CHARLES gathers articles, reports, extracts and the like from the Internet, data traffic within the British Government and items entered into a wide range of government, military and law enforcement databases, sorts them on the basis of a weighted range of keywords and correlative indices, and groups the tiered output into synopses for quick distribution to the specific people who need to pay them actual attention. In fact, the weighting is imprecise, the grouping is haphazard and the tiering process sometimes buries urgent matters and highlights cruft and trivia.

Practically every IT professional in the Laundry has "worked the coal-face" on the CHARLES code, layering changes and comments to almost sedimentary depths, and the User Requirements and Responses meetings have become a painful fixture of life in both IT and DRIS. The upshot is that you can never quite be sure if the IMMEDIATE flyer you just got from Central Issuing is going to be a "haunted teapot" video off YouTube or an MI6 report of a confirmed association between the long-extinct Cult of the Bloody Tongue and the child of a senior Cabinet Minister.

It adds spice to your dull bureaucratic days.


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