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Is "Good Enough" the Future of Technology?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the seems-to-work-for-the-movie-industry dept.

Medicine 350

himitsu writes "In an article titled 'The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine,' Wired claims that the future of technology, warfare and medicine will be filled with 'good enough' solutions; situations where feature-rich and expensive products are replaced with bare-bones infrastructures and solutions. 'We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they're actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as "high-quality."'"

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already the case (4, Interesting)

Hellswaters (824112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240161)

Look at a large amount of government systems. Everything is to the cheapest bidder. But the cheapest bidder isn't always the best or product, and contains issues. Also known as 'good enough.'

Re:already the case (4, Insightful)

minsk (805035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240215)

Look at a large amount of government systems. Everything is to the cheapest bidder. But the cheapest bidder isn't always the best or product, and contains issues. Also known as 'good enough.'

No, that's just the cheapest. You don't know about 'good enough' without careful planning and quality evaluation.

Or, taking the more common approach, you purchase it and deployed it. Then you discover why it was cheapest. Because it wasn't good enough.

If. (4, Funny)

buswolley (591500) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240267)

If this post is not good enough now...It will be tomorrow.

Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answer. (5, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240235)

The most well-known example of technology overkill is Windows XP and its successors. Think about it for a minute. How many of the functions in these operating systems do you actually use?

I myself use maybe 10%. There are parts (of Windows Vista) that I have never explored and will never explore. I just do not need all that functionality.

I bet that the majority of non-technical users are just like me. Suppose that Microsoft created a "good enough" operating system called "Windows Minimum" (WM). It has 10% of the functions of Windows Vista and 10% of its size. WM would also likely be 10 times more reliable since it is small and easy to verify to be correct. Best of it, WM would likely be 10% of the price of Windows Vista. $20 is just about right for most people.

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (5, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240319)

Um, it probably would cost about the same as XP/Vista/7, assuming most end-users would get this 'WinMin' OS instead of WinXP/Vista/7, as the market has shown that people are willing to pay that much for the OS, even if they don't use all the features of it.

And somehow I doubt Microsoft would devote all that extra money into making the OS more secure/reliable/easy to use. They probably would blow it trying to diversify into some other markets, such as a licensable OS for routers (so Cisco can make the hardware, and MS would provide the software!).

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240327)

They'd probably charge more because it was better. See Windows 7 (aka NT 6.1/Vista 2.0) for an example.

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (1, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240379)

that applies to cars too. The tata nano is essentailly that. No seat belts, most of the time people don't need those. Rear view mirrors, got by for 60 years without em. Airconditioning? Open a window. Air bags? If something goes wrong they can hurt you, even without an serious accident. Anti lock breaks, well with some practice a good driver can do better than ABS, and you aren't going fast most of the time anwyay. Radio, distracting. Cost: 2500 bucks US (or thereabouts).

The reason you can't sell them for that price in Europe/the US - the governments (including others such as Canada where I am), have decided if you want a car you must have all sorts of that stuff. Projected cost to bring them to 'western' markets ~10k. And even then they wouldn't go highway speeds.

Windows - for all of it's faults, does a lot of stuff you don't see, and don't know you use. So does linux of course. And both of them are deisgned for 'marginal' situations as well as main use ones. How many people plug in a monitor that's rotated 90 degrees or how often do you change the audio output/input device? Some of that is draconian, and some of it is good planning microsoft telling you things you should be able to do.

Ever see the Simpsons episode where Homer designs a car? He talks about 'rack and peanut stearing' - the average consumer doesn't know, doesn't want to know, and is possibly better off not knowing what their stuff does. If they think they know, and don't, they may try and fix it themselves and end up more in trouble. The standard of 'good enough' needs to be chosen by people with brains- unfortunately they tend to get overruled by management, but that's cost/benefit analysis for you.

Up until this summer my mother was using a computer with Windows 98. All she does is e-mail. Is that good enough? Well she thought so. But I couldn't find a free AV program that was up to date and didn't cripple her system. Firewall? Good luck. Need a USB device for anything, not going to happen. Once I moved far enough away I couldn't help her on a regular basis she started getting nasty e-mails from the cable company about how they detected 'virus like activity' from the network. She of course doesn't understand and ignored them. Good enough in the context of computer needs to be sustainable - which by definition a paid product won't be, since adding stuff costs money and they will eventually charge for added stuff. Linux can be, but when linux fails it doesn't tend to fail as gracefully, recovery as easily or get fixed as easily - which isn't a technical problem but a proliferation of skills issue, though my mother doesn't care why it can't get fixed, she cares that it won't.

I think you'd be suprised how useless a windows minimum with 10% of the functions 7/Vista would be. Lots of stuff 'under the hood' of vista is there for application developers to do stuff, and stripping out a lot of functionality would cripple hardware and severely limit what programs you can run. Granted there are computer systems out there with very software features (think ATMs), but really simple is almost a specialized market in itself.

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (5, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240805)

"Hooray for mediocrity" is not an excuse for doing crappy things the wrong way. Neither is "The Simpsons did it".

The Tata Nano car was not rejected because of consumerism or market protection, but because it is a low quality, highly dangerous piece of technology. Coupled with its cheapness and almost limitless availability, we all would've had a quagmire on the roads pretty quickly.

Just a few examples: seatbelts, the car safety feature that has saved more lives than the alcohol prohibition or the traffic light. A hard braking without actual impact can send you smashing on the steering wheel or knocking your teeth out - while with a seatbelt you and your car would've had no damage whatsoever. People not wearing seatbelts are very hesitating in applying full brake power in an emergency situation because of this and that would've cost lives of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers. That's why they're mandatory and why you're fined for not wearing them.

ABS: Drivers can do better than ABS but only if they're really experienced. We're talking about "half a million mile" or "NASCAR experience". Beginners cause the most crashes and one out of three drivers will have a situation where having ABS will mean the difference between sweating and loss of money, limb or life. Even if one is an experienced driver, I bet you hope the other guy is also experienced or has ABS. I hope on both.

The Nano is destined for markets where it is the only mobility alternative for much of the population and better than the ubiquitous scooter everyone has now. There, the Nano can decrease total road deaths simply because four wheels and a windshield are much safer in the downpouring rain that parts of India and Asia seasonally experience.

In Western markets, the Nano would increase road deaths, possibly up to terrible levels from the Fifties. I'm with you when you say we COULD omit air conditions, power windows, central locking, electric mirrors, electric hatches. But safety features like seatbelts (pennies), ABS (a few hundred bucks) or ESP (another few hundred bucks) will cost more if they're missing. You could not save more than 1500 bucks (at most) on manufacturing the car but the first accident will cost more than you'd ever saved in property damage alone. Or worse.

Extremely cold-heartedly saying: it costs about 150'000 bucks to raise and educate one kid to be an average adult in our society. Because of that, even if we all were the most heartless, profit-oriented bastards on earth, we'd equip our cars with all affordable safety features.

In doubt, drive to an empty street somewhere and practice maximum emergency braking, with and without wearing the seatbelt. Hesitated smashing your teeth on the steering wheel, even for a fraction of a second?. Wear a seatbelt, dude.

Obligatory wiki links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusion_of_control [wikipedia.org]

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (1)

IkeTo (27776) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240503)

Look at the competition. They are (1) Linux, and (2) BSD (including Mac OSX). Both are very generic OS, serving a wide variety of settings including the desktop, the server, laptops, and handhelds and at times embedded systems like routers. Both don't care that average user will use only a tiny fraction of the OS. This is general in software: things get generalized to all similar areas. There is no point for MS to create a "WM" from scratch, if MS need one it simply disables the unneeded features from Vista. Because it costs essentially nothing to Microsoft to make a new copy of Vista. Making a "WM", in contrast, means engineering efforts.

Incidentally, I'd call "just disable some feature of Vista" a good enough solution: it is good enough because the average computer has the capability to run Vista anyway (or so MS think), so they don't create a "perfect" solution to match the average desktop usage exactly.

Two Problems: Size and Reliability (1)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240537)

IkeTo wrote, "There is no point for MS to create a 'WM' from scratch, if MS need one it simply disables the unneeded features from Vista. Because it costs essentially nothing to Microsoft to make a new copy of Vista. Making a 'WM', in contrast, means engineering efforts."

There are 2 problems that the "disable method" (DM) does not address. First, merely switching off the features does not reduce the size. Windows Vista still wastes 5 gigabytes of disk space.

Second, the advantage of the small size of Windows Minimum (WM) is that it is much easier to verify to be correct. Checking 500 megabytes of code is easier than checking 5 gigabytes. Small, light, and efficient is the advantage of a minimalist operating system.

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (3, Interesting)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240585)

The most well-known example of technology overkill is Windows XP and its successors. Think about it for a minute. How many of the functions in these operating systems do you actually use?

If an OSS advocate made this same argument as a reason to adopt Linux and OpenOffice, you'd have the OSS detractors screaming at him for not understanding business and productivity. I recall quite a flame fest over replacements for Adobe products a day or two ago.

Windows is popular despite that it is only good enough. Linux dominates the OSS market despite its myriad shortcomings. Plenty of better solutions have come and gone, but good enough solutions spread like wildfire because they are not actually optimized to be solutions. They are optimized for one thing: spreading.

Re:Windows Vista: "Good Enough" is the right answe (4, Insightful)

Entropic Alchemist (1613649) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240809)

I myself use maybe 10%. There are parts (of Windows Vista) that I have never explored and will never explore. I just do not need all that functionality.

Yes, but who is to say that every user uses the same 10%? If most users only utilise 10%, I would think that these 10% segments overlap enough to cover a significant proportion of the total function of the OS.

Uhm, well, DUH?!?! (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240329)

I drive a Toyota Matrix. It's no Lexus, but's it's plenty "good enough".

I live in a two-story, 2,000 Sq Ft home. It's no mansion, but it's quite nice, and it's "good enough".

My computer is an almost-3-year-old Dell running Fedora Core Linux. Although it was a bit spendy when I bought it, it's worth 1/10 of it's original value. I still use it because it's "good enough".

My shoes, purchased at Payless shoe source, black leather Airwalks. Are they the nicest shoes in the world? Well, they are if by nicest you mean "easy to come by for $30 or less". Oh, and "good enough".

Lame article is lame. We *always* compromise quality for price to find a healthy balance between the two. You don't drive a bulletproof limousine, nor do you (likely) travel to work every day in a private jet. Given a particular product marketplace, as features broaden, they become less and less important. The marketplace for the product as a whole commoditizes, and prices collapse.

This is the natural order of market progression, and is the march towards general social wealth. The author of this article needs a little Econ 101, as does the article submitter.

Re:Uhm, well, DUH?!?! (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240835)

You mean price and quality of goods are automatically adapting to the cost of material and labor needed to produce or maintain them, offset by the cost and applicability of substitutes? All producers shifting their production where it is needed or wanted the most and where the resulting produce is - for consumers - worth more than the energy, raw materials and labour that went into producing them? Is that an invisible hand or something? :)

Re:already the case (3, Interesting)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240531)

Interestingly, for some government contracts the lowest bidder is automatically discarded -- it is the *second* lowest bidder that gets the contract. This is a well-known theoretical mechanism for removing bullshit from the bidding process. The end price will be slightly higher, but the price will usually be more accurate for a given contract spec.

Not just government. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240657)

People make the trade-off between quality and price all the time. TFA seems pretty pointless to me.

-jcr

Gov't systems do not follow 'Good Enough' (1)

jrsjrsjrs (947704) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240683)

Look at a large amount of government systems. Everything is to the cheapest bidder. But the cheapest bidder isn't always the best or product, and contains issues. Also known as 'good enough.'

Parent is ignorant of how the government buys. The days of low price are gone. -- That's a how to buy question anyway, not *what to buy* which is discussed in the article.

Today most of the buys are still encumbered by perfection.

Examples? How about the IRS and FAA computer systems. Or the F22 fighter. Or the continuing drive to put humans in space.

tag: worseisbetter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240165)

So...yeah. [jwz.org]

What's the rush? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240173)

That's like saying WindowsMobile will trump the iPhone.

Re:What's the rush? (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240365)

If you had experience with both phones, you would know how perfectly the inverse of your statement describes the article.

Windows Mobile does far more than the iPhone OS. Multitasking for instance.

But the iPhone is a success in spite of the fact....no, BECAUSE OF THE FACT that it doesn't have un-necessary features.

Windows Mobile is an extremely feature-rich operating system. Unfortunately, all those features and a crap interface don't hold a candle to a simple implementation of a not-very-smartphone.

It's a lot like a Wii vs. Xbox 360/PS3. The Wii can't hold a candle to the other two technically, but it has been far more successful.

Re:What's the rush? (2, Informative)

vakuona (788200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240779)

The iPhone multitasks very well actually. Apple just won't let other apps multitask. For example, if you are on a call, you can be checking your email, and still receive sms'es. It would kill the battery though, so they won't let other apps multitask. Besides, I have used a Windows mobile phone, and hated the multitasking feature because it meant a lot of programs in the background using precious battery. Besides, Windows mobile sucks. Loads. Horrible example to compare with iPhoneOS.

wrong (2, Informative)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240179)

The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots.

Re:wrong (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240237)

machines blowing each other up isn't war and doesn't have the same impact as war. War needs people getting killed, and there is no indication in any of the wars happening on earth that this trend is in any way changing.

Re:wrong (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240281)

This remind me of an old Star Trek episode. The fought by computer simulation, reported the simulated casualties, and then sent citizens to vaporizer chambers to make those simulated casualties real per the treaty.

Of course Kirk convinced the girl to want to live.

Re:wrong (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240305)

Exactly, you kill all the men of fighting age who want to play soilder. The boys, girls, woman and old men are given the offer of food, shelter, no excesses if they surrender.
If they let your troops and small tanks roll on, all is fine.
If not, your light up the valley, town, city.
Worked for grandpa ;) and the grandsons and daughters love it too.

Re:wrong (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240477)

Line from Illium, or close to it," Surrender and we will not kill your children and wives, but will instead take them as our slaves and concubines to serve us wine and the fruits of the earth.

Re:wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240269)

Nukes are simple and good enough.

Re:wrong (1)

Klobbersaurus (796024) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240285)

The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots.

and as you leave here today, your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank You.

Re:wrong (2, Informative)

lorteau (1627357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240551)

Modded 'informative'?? Are we only 2, the other one being Klobbersaurus, to have spotted the Simpsons quote?

Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240181)

When I was in high school I always used to aim for 51% in tests, claiming it was the most efficient pass mark. Lower than that you fail, but higher than that and there is no extra reward, you still pass.

Why should life be any different. If its "good enough" IE meets its design goals, why should you work harder just to make it better? You won't be paid more, that is for damn sure.

It most certainly seems to be the present of Linux (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240191)

Has been for ages. MIDIs still don't play out of the box. In 2009.

Re:It most certainly seems to be the present of Li (0, Offtopic)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240279)

So? If you brought this grave problem to the attention of the average Windows user they
wouldn't have any clue what you are talking about. Trying this test with MacOS users
won't cause you to fare any better.

Some bitter old Atari ST users might actually be aware of what you're talking about.

Clearly the Lemming Trolls have to find more obscure "multimedia problems" to whine
about since the more mainstream use cases no longer favor Windows or MacOS.

That concerns? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240195)

I would be more worried about people (as in 90%+ of it) choosing lower quality products not because they are cheaper, or is delivered faster, or safer (in fact, none of them), but better marketed.

Re:That concerns? (1)

minsk (805035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240259)

I would be more worried about people choosing poor products based on marketing if I thought it were a new phenomenon.

But, just like the next generation being when the world descends into sloth and vice, we don't really seem to be getting anywhere in our tumble toward oblivion.

Re:That concerns? (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240289)

People are confusing "quality" with "features".

The quality product isn't the one with the most features, it's the one that
meets the actual requirements, does so reliably and doesn't fall apart. This
means that a Toyota or even a Hyundai is a quality product despite not having
the frills of a Benz or the hype of a BMW.

When the frills get in the way of getting things done, the more basic device
is actually the more suitable one and represents "higher quality".

Re:That concerns? (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240801)

You missed the point. If the products are good enough, it is not a problem for the customer.
If they are not, they will not buy from the company anymore, sooner or later, and tell others that product sucks.

The Unix philosophy, worse is better, has always been about "good enough", so I think "good enough" is the future. Open source projects are mostly scratching an itch, until the itch is solved "good enough" (This is often criticized).

IPv4 is pretty bad (e.g. for VoIP), but it is good enough, so its used. The web is pretty messed up: Program logic and content go over the same channel, security. But it is good enough.

Good enough => disruptive technologies ?
It's pretty hard to demand something better than good enough
Oh I give up, this post is good enough

If something does what it's designed to do... (1)

Maznio (137785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240207)

... then it is good enough for me. Competition sorts everything else out. Take the mobile phone as an example: first you could dial numbers and it was good enough, then you could write text messages, and now I'm posting on Slashdot from my Nokia (which has a full QWERTY keyboard, thankyouverymuch).

Re:If something does what it's designed to do... (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240297)

Which is why I carry a camera, a phone, and a mp3 player as 3 devices. I haven't seen any one device with a 12mp camera, 80gb memory for my music (yes I do listen to atleast 40 gb of different music per week), and phone usage too.

Re:If something does what it's designed to do... (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240413)

You don't need a 12mb camera, you have fallen for the megapixel mix. You need a good camera with a big sensor, a good lens, and good noise reduction, something that you wont see in a phone camera yet. And yes, I am talking point and shoot.

However, I have seen plenty of people with a Vivitar camera, with the plastic lens, no better than a camera phone.

Which speaks against this parable, once we start migrating devices, it is better and cheaper to buy a device with everything you want. All you are waiting for is more memory and a better camera.

Re:If something does what it's designed to do... (2, Insightful)

bonhomme_de_neige (711691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240417)

I haven't seen any one device with a 12mp camera, 80gb memory for my music (yes I do listen to atleast 40 gb of different music per week), and phone usage too.

I haven't seen any combination of those 3 individual devices (camera, phone, and mp3 player) that together occupy less space than any current smartphone.

Re:If something does what it's designed to do... (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240727)

Which makes you a good little consumer. It proves nothing else.

Re:If something does what it's designed to do... (4, Insightful)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240747)

Your music listening ability is staggering.

Let's assume, exceptionally high quality bitrate files... So an average of 10MB each. And let's assume that each song is short at that size as well, so around 3 minutes in length on average...

40 GB = 40,000 MB

40,000 MB / 10 MB each = 4000 songs.

4000 songs * 3 minute each = 12000 minutes.

12000 minutes = 200 hours.

200 hours = 8.333 days (nonstop).

All in one week, eh?

Keep in mind that a 320kbps CBR MP3 will eat up about 2.2MB per minute, meaning that a 3 Minute MP3 at that bitrate would be only 6.6MB... So the 10 we used in this example is quite... liberal. And of course, rounding errors for using HDD manufacturer's definition of "GB". Also, unless you listen to some very specific genres of music, 3 minutes is not overly long for an average song length.

All that aside, if you like to have a ridiculous amount of music on you at all times, just say so. But for some reason it irritates me when people insist they listen to impossible amounts of music on a regular basis, so flash based players are inadequate.

I can see the qualitative argument for carrying a separate digital camera. Phone cameras run the gambit from "what is that supposed to be a photo of?" to "It's okay, but I wouldn't frame it, and I payed a fortune for this phone". But digital audio playback is great even on some cheap phones. Higher end smart phones are as well. Add that the fact that flash memory is cheap and abundant, and I don't see a reason to purchase a separate MP3 player unless the size of your phone, or battery life are issues.

Simplicity is the key (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240231)

Simplicity is the key... just like my post.

Re:Simplicity is the key (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240439)

tl;dr

Re:Simplicity is the key (4, Interesting)

gnupun (752725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240665)

LOL. "Good Enough" is euphemistic code for average, mediocre, unimportant. So expect all future consumer products to exhibit that quality. Oh wait, most products already do, compared with products from 10 to 15 years ago: cars, software, movies, books etc. Is Windows 7 significantly better than the almost 10-year old XP? Other than its new GUI, it has nothing to offer other than slow, bloatedness. So why the hell should humanity improve technology if we don't get to use it while big, fat, CEOs use cheap materials and labor to increase their profits?

If you support open source, good enough will be the norm, as in, "Linux is good enough for my software needs, I don't need/want anything else." Since open source products have less competition (hard to compete with a $0 price tag), the need to improve the product will be almost non-existent. In contrast, with closed source, there is constant competition to deliver better products as each competitor works hard to improve his product and steal his competitor's profits.

Re:Simplicity is the key (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240797)

Mediocrity is a function of not being able to spend all ones resources on ones pet project.

Lets face it the way capitalism works assures us that infinite resources cannot be dedicated to any product and one must have a large enough population who shares the same interest in quality that you do and have enough money to pay for them for such products to take off.

Lastly, mediocre products are a sign of the lack of intelligence and powers of discrimination of most of the population.

Yeow, what a pointless article (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240243)

This article is really just one guy pointificating about a few anecdotes. Of course he's right that the mass market is in the middle to low end. But what was it not so? Ford outsells Ferrari. This is not news.

It always has been (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240247)

Nothing is perfect and we are all just left to our own for a definition of "good enough".

Seriously, Even with the U.S. space effort etc, there are things checked a bizillion times on a manned space craft. This is because the mission cannot just pull over for parts mid-flight. And even with all that, shit still breaks or doesn't do as expected.

We are all just left to hope that any given "good enough" is, well, actually good enough.

Ta Dah!

checked a bazillion times and _still_ go wrong (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240359)

Without the independent clause, the original sentence means nothing.

heh... english... who'd a thought...

Limited time offer (0)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240255)

But wait there's more! I for one welcome our mediocre yet satisfactory overlords.

Re:Limited time offer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240333)

But that's not all! Welcome your mediocre yet satisfactory overlords, and we'll send you ______ absolutely free!

a) M$ Windows

b) Bush c) Hell I give up because I'm not funny.

Re:Limited time offer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240499)

I'll take b) send me free bush becos I'm tired of paying for it and I like as much as I can get which is not much being a Slashdotter.

And give Slashdot the message drop the annoying web 2 0ey stuff the original UI was Good Enough.

my lawn.... get off it (5, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240261)

My line of work - which is patent law, crucify me - brings me in contact with a lot of mechanical engineers. One complaint I often get to hear from the older ones is that in ye olden days, most people in management were engineers themselves, who had worked up their way through a lifelong career. Those were the days of quality products, of taking pride in the excellence of your work. Now, as MBAs have taken over, we have the days of producing as cheap and sloppy as you can get away with. This may be partially nostalgia-filtered, but I guess it has some reality to it.

Re:my lawn.... get off it (2, Interesting)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240557)

...then it's time for a new, unrelated industry to rise, or the economy is going to tank. Do you think the auto industry lasted forever with engineers in their management ranks? I'd say no, and around the time they started getting into that mindset, the computer industry gradually stepped in as the new high-tech industry. It has happened before, it will happen again, if there's another tech industry in our future.

Re:my lawn.... get off it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240567)

No, it's just nostalgia. We could still make all the old designs if we really wanted to, but they have been replaced by something better. And every generation believes it is better than its successor.

Re:my lawn.... get off it (1)

mce (509) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240597)

No, it's just nostalgia. We could still make all the old designs if we really wanted to, but they have been replaced by something better. And every generation believes it is better than its successor.

... only to be equally laughed at by its own successors when those "move on" or "return to their roots".

Re:my lawn.... get off it (3, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240681)

One complaint I often get to hear from the older ones is that in ye olden days, most people in management were engineers themselves, who had worked up their way through a lifelong career. Those were the days of quality products, of taking pride in the excellence of your work.

Maybe so, but those same engineers are likely to miss other trends, such as the personal computer versus mainframes. To them the personal computer is junk compared to their meticulously crafted machines, but they miss the point entirely.

I'm reminded of the photography industry, where for many years the purists insisted that expensive European lenses and cameras would always be superior, but in reality the Japanese products were the future.

Its always been this way (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240265)

Contrary to popular believe its always been the case that tools and machines were made just good enough.

The definition of "just good enough" depends almost entirely on the cost to manufacturer any given device.

When a given tool is manufactured, its engineered to withstand its expected life span, within the budget available.

If you know you can buy a plow that will last for 20 years for X dollars, and a longer lasting plow for a lot more money, you immediately start thinking about how much cheaper it will be to build the same plow in 5 years, after the new mine is open, and the new forge set up. If its going to be cheaper, you don't bother beefing it up.

Things in the past were built to last their expected life time (or the life of the owner), or the duration for which the device is needed.

Per unit Cost, and per unit lead time to manufacture just about anything has shortened progressively over the centuries.

We don't need the plow, the ship, or the building to last that long any more, and in fact it is detrimental that they do, because that delays progress of new technology. Its easier to recycle it and build next year's model, which will be cheaper.

I don't see anything new here. Its been this way since dirt.

Even my long dead grandfather used to complain "They don't make em like the used to".

Thanks for that.

Re:Its always been this way (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240343)

The problem is a small group are getting the "plow that will last for 20 years" vs "plow that will last for 5 years" production line savings.
The end users are getting Apple and MSed over, paying for a "plow that will last for 5-15 years" with the story of a "plow that will last for 18 years".

Re:Its always been this way (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240387)

"Production line savings" end up in the purchaser's pockets, in the industrialist's pocket, in the grocery shopper's pocket.

Don't turn this thread into a class warfare issue. Its not that at all. Its been going on throughout history.

Re:Its always been this way (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240571)

You neglect that in our country, you aren't necessarily tied down by your class if you have the will to change the world around you. You can be in that small group, if you decide to, and work to it.

Re:Its always been this way (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240345)

because that delays progress of new technology

Though often we end up with progress (too often "progress") for progress' sake.

I've lost count of the number of times I've had something break and I end up having to replace the entire thing rather than a single part. Recent example, the thermostatic value in my shower went and rather than just replacing the value (which would have cost about $30, but isn't made anymore, after just 2 years), I had to replace the entire assembly for about $200. And the only difference I could find between the old and new is they have a different handle.

I'm sure this is absolutely wonderful for profits, but it sure as hell pisses me off.

Re:Its always been this way (2, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240465)

Its easier to recycle it and build next year's model, which will be cheaper.

Pfft. My mother had had a certain washing machine for as long as I can remember. Never even serviced, as far as I know. New dryers, however, haven't lasted very long. She managed to get an one second-hand from a neighbor (maybe 10 years old) and hasn't had any problems since.

Re:Its always been this way (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240679)

If you were willing to pay a similar proportion of your income for a dryer today, you can still get a similarly high quality dryer right now. Miehle makes excellent washers and dryers.

-jcr

Re:Its always been this way (1)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240569)

Contrary to popular believe its always been the case that tools and machines were made just good enough.

The definition of "just good enough" depends almost entirely on the cost to manufacturer any given device.

Well, ok, but I don't think you've identified the driving force, because the real question is:

When is the obsolescence date of the device you're thinking of purchasing?

If a better/cheaper device will be on sale next year, then you're not going to pay as much for what you can get today. On the other hand, if the product you buy won't become obsolete for another decade, then you might as well pay the extra money to get good quality. Technology improves on an exponential scale. To illustrate my point: why buy a laptop now that will cost 3000$ and keep it for 3 years, instead of buying a 1000$ laptop every year for 3 years? I'll get a better deal with the cheaper laptops!

Re:Its always been this way (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240625)

"To illustrate my point: why buy a laptop now that will cost 3000$ and keep it for 3 years, instead of buying a 1000$ laptop every year for 3 years? I'll get a better deal with the cheaper laptops!"

At 3x times the cost in materials, 3x times the energy needed to produce each one and ship it and sell it, and generating 3x times the waste when you toss each one away and it ends up in a landfill.

You may be getting a better "deal", but from an environmental standpoint, the rest of use are getting screwed by your disposable mindset.

Re:Its always been this way (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240803)

Who said anything about taking the laptop to the landfill. At one year, it is probably still very sellable.

Re:Its always been this way (1)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240777)

This is also an issue of modernization, industrialization, and establishment of reliable, fast supply lines.

People often talk about tools, and how they used to last a lifetime, or plows, or whatever. But when that was the case, you didn't have a Sears and a Wal*Mart and a Pep Boys and a hundred other stores within 30 minutes travel time who carry tools. Go back a hundred years. You're a farmer in rural Virginia somewhere... you need tools to do your job day in and day out... there is Sears catalog, maybe, or you can trek a full day or three into the nearest town's where the general store may have what you need. If something broke then, it was a much bigger deal than it is today!

I'm not saying that this disposable mentality is a good thing by any means. But I do think it's a natural consequence of supply lines improving along with industrialization. Not to mention the fact that the savings of making something on an assembly line more cheaply can be much greater than the savings of making something by hand more cheaply.

Just Stupid (2)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240295)

The author is an idiot. This has been going on forever. Using his camera example, anyone over 50 or so will remember the Kodak Instamatic cameras of the 1960's, when expensive cameras were on the rise, the cheap and easy Instamatic turned the market around.

Cheap and easy has been #1 forever.

Re:Just Stupid (4, Informative)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240401)

Yeah. It's not as if Richard Gabriel's "The Rise of Worse is Better" was written yesterday.

Then again, magazines like Wired live by 'discovering' things that are long known and then gushing about it to a public that doesn't know about it, to make it appear as if they are on the bleeding edge and, you know, totally radical.

Mart

Sweet Spot (5, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240301)

As someone who has been in the computer industry for a long time, I can tell you that there are sweet spots everywhere. Would you pay $100 for a good video card, capable of 80% of the power of a $200 one? Or would you pay $400 for one with 110% of the power of a $200 one?

'Good Enough' is how technology has always been. Sure, we could make our jet fighters 10% more fuel efficient, if we added 50% to the cost of the engines, and a similar amount to the upkeep. We COULD do a lot of things, but one or two steps down from the best is still good enough for most applications in the real world.

Re:Sweet Spot (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240581)

The 100$ video card tends to have 50% of the performance of the 200$ one, which has 50% of the performance of the 400$ one.

Re:Sweet Spot (1)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240601)

Well. There is a sense of diminishing returns. The $100 one is usually pretty crippled compared to the $200 part, but the $400 single-card is rarely more than like 50% faster than the $200 one. Of course, it depends on the generation. The 8800 GT at $200 was so close to the speed of the much-more-expensive 8800 GTX that it was selling at $300 rather than the MSRP. ATI's 4770 over-performed at its price-point, too, such that it was more cost-effective to slap two of them together at first.

Re:Sweet Spot (2, Insightful)

mce (509) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240649)

Even if that were true - which it isn't - there still is a sweet spot. Imagine what else you could do with the money you do not spend on the 400$ card. If everyone does the same, as they do, demand for the expensive cards is low and what should be a $600 card according to your theory and could be a $800 one - considering the more expensive components - really has to be priced $1000 just to recover the development costs.

Beware: I'm a software engineer who worked up his way through the ranks in the electronics hardware industry and even obtained an MBA at age 41 - i.e. with real life experience under my belt, but even so I went for it. So unfortunately I'm sure to be hampered by some relevant experience and knowledge. :-)

Engineering always has been about finding the sweet spots, even in the days of gold plated contacts.

Re:Sweet Spot (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240703)

The 100$ video card tends to have 50% of the performance of the 200$ one, which has 50% of the performance of the 400$ one.

Not in reality.

Re:Sweet Spot (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240699)

'Good Enough' is how technology has always been.

Yes. Even Voltaire famously said, "The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good."

Not good enough (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240311)

'Good enough' is relative. Of course if it is not good enough then no one will buy it, but the real question is where is the line? Apple's products are probably the most polished on the market today yet they are still not 'perfect'. Is Apple operating on a good enough principle? It is all about standards. Good enough for me may not be good enough for you. Also, different requirements mean different solutions. Linux is great for people with time and a tech mindset, it allows tinkering and tweaking and is a wonderful solution for many people. Apple is great for people with little time and less of a tech mindset. No need to dig through manuals and mess around with things... just press Go!

Basically I think this is just an article for an articles sake. Humanity has been doing good enough since the dawn of time, and the only thing that has changed is that standards that good enough entails. Nothing is changing, people will continue to sell/buy products that beat the competition for the specified market.

Re:Not good enough (1)

do_kev (1086225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240427)

I don't know what planet you're living on whereupon Apple's products are "probably the most polished in the market today, yet still not perfect." Although they are aesthetically supreme, under the hood, they are frequently quite lacking (remember those iPods that constantly break, the computers that run hot enough to fry an egg, or the overpriced nature of their hardware in general?)

Don't get me wrong - I still quite like Apple (this is in fact being posted from a Macbook Pro,) and they do some things right, such as customer service (example: even though my iPod recently broke and was out of warranty, they still replaced it without a fuss,) their ability to design intuitive interfaces, and their choice to build OS X on top of BSD. That being said, don't let them fool you - despite the fact that Apple products are very slick and incredibly well marketed, the actual quality of the goods is only on par with what other reputable manufacturers are offering.

Industrialism winds down... (4, Insightful)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240321)

Wired are actually telling us that we LIKE high quality stuff, but after a point, consumer products are just repetitive. It's pornographic to the T - they're exploiting consumers by pushing for higher and higher quality while the essential creation remains the same.

So we're starting to get a sense for what industrialism brought us: The need to put a harness on creativity, to attempt to "own" creativity. And it can't be done.

My own theory is that we've tried unsuccessfully to sustain ourselves on consumerism, and the people who are doing the real creative stuff now are no longer what would be termed "consumers." They have withdrawn from the marketplace. So industry and media need to put a spin on this fast - they need to siphon off what's left in the can before they start to die. They're just in a mad grab for gobs of raw ideas, knowing that they can't hold onto individual ideas for so long anymore.

Money, money, money (2)

It's the tripnaut! (687402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240339)

It's the economy, stupid.

this article doesn't have enough research (2, Insightful)

crispytwo (1144275) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240353)

But it's good enough to get me annoyed!

This is just another diseased mind thinking that nostalgic reminiscing is when it was good. Ya, I remember when I was young and everything was so great! High quality stuff was everywhere. My Kraft dinner was so much better when my mom made it for me! That is just nonsense. Technology gets better all the time. "Good Enough" differs depending on the product. A CPU that doesn't quite do logic is not going to be "Good Enough", but a program that crashes some times might be "Good Enough".

Get over yourself, is what I say.

Re:this article doesn't have enough research (4, Insightful)

kuzb (724081) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240443)

It's wired. "Good enough" pretty much describes the level of research they're willing to do in order to publish something. I wonder if this article isn't directly related to their own laziness.

WEEEEEEAK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240355)

The article does not support the statement. None of the examples support unless you ignore the real reason.
There was a need for low res video cameras. so they were bought to put videos on the internet. Not to replace the ones recording event for TV. (17% cheap not 17% high end). The Predator did not replace the fight or bomber. It can fly for a long time. Much longer than a piloted plane. The Taliban and Iraq have no air defense. So a Predator works in that narrow situation. Bring in a fighter or some Anti Aircraft Missiles, then the game changes. A Bomber? A B52 can drop more bombs in one trip then a Predator could drop in a month. The real conclusion is that some time cheap and simple fits the need better than expensive and high tech, but not always.

Great economics (4, Funny)

Hangeron (314487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240361)

It's good for the economy to produce stuff that people have to replace regularly. We should produce crap that breaks every few months. That would really boost consumerism and spin up the economy. But what we really need are cheap and simple replacement societies. When a world police like the US bombs another country and takes their resources, they can just slap in a modern, cheap and simple solution. Benefit for all.

The 95% rule (3, Insightful)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240403)

This isn't really new, it's just the 95% rule (where admittedly 95% is just a WAG) and I've considered it a rule of thumb for decades

Basically anything that's 95% good enough and has some other overwhelming advantage (cheapness, convenience, lack of confusion) wins over technically more capable competitors, except for a few fanatics who aren't enough to drive the market. MP3s lose some quality from CDs and FLAC/WAV, but who cares? They're more convenient. YouTube is a horrid example of this - everyone thinks blocky, tiny, hitching video is good enough because it's so convenient and there's so much content. So you have to reboot your mobile phone now and then or can't get coverage in some places, when land-lines work damn near 100% of the time - who cares? Apple knows this rule and uses it brilliantly - Mac OS and its apps do 95% of what people need and it don't bother you about or give you decision paralysis for the other 5% that only tech-heads want.

I find that Linux with package management does about 95% of what I need to do out of the box and I have to script the rest... but that's good enough for me to just run Debian on all my servers and not worry about it. It's worth not having to fetch and compile every damn dependency by scratch or wade through all of Windows's hideously incestuous server configuration crap. More to the point, I could run BSD on all those servers, but why bother? Yes, I know you have all sorts of technical reasons why I should, but they don't matter. It's good enough and more convenient.

I've got about 10 more examples but will shut up now, because I think I've made 95% of the point.

"Good enough" has ALWAYS been the future of tech (2, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240449)

'Good enough' is what funds 'advancement.' See Bugatti Veyron for reference.

It is the average/affordable/usable sales that fund advancement for the high-tech/advanced. Another excellent example of this is photography. The development for the latest and greatest DSLR low-light cameras with anamorphowidealcoholic lenses is paid for by point-and-shoots. Video cards are another example -- the low- and mid-range cards fund the cutting-edge. The only purposes for high-end are advertising of brand name superiority and to have trickle-down on the 'good enough' stuff.

Re:"Good enough" has ALWAYS been the future of tec (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240799)

It is the average/affordable/usable sales that fund advancement for the high-tech/advanced. Another excellent example of this is photography.

I think that's backwards. It's Nikon and Canon's premium-paying professional market that funded their move into point-and-shoots and consumer cameras. The technology in the professional cameras is handed down to the consumer ones. It's not like point-and-shoot cameras start out with advanced technology that later gets added to the pro line.

Likewise, in computing the high margins from Apple's Mac Pro, Macbook Pro and professional software help subsidize the lower-cost Macbook and iMac, while high-end software research contributes to consumer apps like iLife.

!news (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240451)

I can't believe no one's mentioned "worse is better" [jwz.org] yet. An excerpt:

I believe that worse-is-better, even in its strawman form, has better survival characteristics than the-right-thing

Another example would be Linux. It can be argued that Minix and Gnu HURD both likely had superior designs -- in fact, at the time, Linus fully expected Linux to become irrelevant once HURD was released. It never happened -- because Linux was available now, and was free and freely modifiable now, even though it was worse, it attracted enough developers so that it ultimately became more practical for most tasks.

And of course, the most obvious example is Windows. This follows the pattern:

The lesson to be learned from this is that it is often undesirable to go for the right thing first. It is better to get half of the right thing available so that it spreads like a virus. Once people are hooked on it, take the time to improve it to 90% of the right thing.

DOS was an abomination, especially considering real OSes existed at the time. Windows 3.1 was barely more than a multiplexer for DOS, and Windows 95/98/ME were similarly backward abominations. Windows NT was unusable by ordinary users until Windows 2000, and why would power users prefer it over Unix?

Yet they were half the right thing, and they were usable by ordinary people, on the PC, faster and cheaper than anyone else.

The story mentions netbooks, but that's just the latest iteration of this. Remember, the original PCs weren't as powerful as minicomputers, which weren't as powerful as mainframes.

Re:!news (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240655)

I can't believe no one's mentioned "worse is better" yet.

I meant to, but you beat me to it. Unix versus anything else in the 1970s, TCP/IP versus whatever layered monsters others tried to dream up.

I still don't see how Windows fits into that, though. The PC hardware did, and that's what got it rolling, plus the users' childish tendency to love, trust and bonding to first IBM, then Microsoft.

How many technologies currently are good enough? (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240463)

Perhaps a pencil is good enough - there isn't much research going into them about how to improve them.

Poor Connections... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29240487)

The author of this article definitely brought this out a bit too far. Sure, they use the predator much more then "far superior" manned aircraft, but this isn't a "good enough" effect. This is a cost effect. Predators are cheap! They can be shot down and there's relatively little fuss over them. You can have them easily manned from afar by a series of workers and keep them in the air longer. It's not that it's "good enough", it's better! The fact that other planes can fly further and carry more ammo doesn't enter into the reason why they use the predator

The same thing is true of the connections made for things like software in the cloud: it may be a revolution soon enough, but as it stands it really hasn't done much. Most people don't use google docs, and most people don't use apps in the cloud. I don't think I know any university which doesn't make heavy use of Microsoft products, especially for english classes. The same is true of any engineering class: you won't be using google sketch-up to make their next propeller...

But that being said these weren't exactly the point of the article, they're talking about the consumer level not the professional level.

Nothing new here ... (2, Insightful)

golodh (893453) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240577)

I mean, just look at MS Windows. Throughout its history it has always been "good enough" in a technological sense of the word, but superior in terms of accessibility and convenience.

And what about Henry Ford's T-model? It most certainly wasn't anything to brag about, technology-wise. It most certainly wasn't any better than the competition, but yet gaain it was "good enough" and accessible (in the sense of affordable).

Now what was that about "the future of technology" again?

Good Enough is the Future of All Things (2, Insightful)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240643)

It's not just technology it's all things. As much as engineers want to have a perfect widget and developers want to have a perfect system it's just not practical. What is "good enough" is determined by exterior factors and most notably economics/usage. If a product is desirable enough to make it the most profitable at a given price point with a given feature set and less than optimal quality then there is no incentive to improve the product beyond that point. In fact it is damaging the economic value of the product to do so since it consumes resources without an expected return. For those of you who find the economic argument in poor taste and just want to make things good on principle switch the concept over to helping people solve their problems or pure usage of your product(s). Investing more in a product won't help more people or get more people to use it beyond a certain point where as focusing your efforts on a new product will help more people or get more usage of your portfolio of products as a whole.

Regardless this is nothing new and yes "Good Enough" will be the future of all things not just technology. What is good enough will largely depend on the economic concept of "utility" and maximizing that utility for the greatest number as well as the impact of failures. If failures kill people the definition of what is good enough is different than if you just have to reboot and wait 20 seconds.

Heck life just works this way. Evolution isn't an optimal system for the individual but by being suboptimal at that level it tries out failure paths and becomes optimal for a species as a whole. Economics and how "good" something gets works in a similar manner serving the needs of the whole population rather than the needs of the individual user or small group who want the product to reach it's perfect form.

The real question. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240653)

Good enough is what most people can afford; past, present and future. The question is not will we be satisfied with less. It is can we afford better?

Personally, I see more mass happiness and leisure in a future where the answer is YES. So let's all work to make it that way. Screw this article.

Yes but there is always a niche (3, Insightful)

improfane (855034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240661)

I think the bare-bones and full featured are niches that will always exist.

Things like Notepad, Vi/Emacs and Notepad++
Google Docs, Microsoft Word/OpenOffice
Photoshop, GIMP then Paint.NET
Apache, lightHTTPd

Any other examples?

It's kind of sad that the most full featured projects are commercial. I think TIME makes all bare bones software into full featured. I mean, Word is 1983, it has been re-envisioned and re-written many times whereas Google Docs is built on a relatively recent platform.

The Pure Digital camcorder is just another niche. I doubt that the expensive camcorders lost sales to this? Or did they? Does Word lose sales to users of Google Docs?

I think the world wide web IS an example of worse is better! Desktop applications are faster, more capable and powerful yet we rely on relaying redundant TEXT and continually re-drawing the screen. ...terminal much?

Wired must be new here... (2, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240663)

... if it's taken them THIS long to notice the inexorable descent from qualitative focus to a quantitative one. It's only been progressing for over a century, after all. That descent is one of the primary things that has made my life hell, because I will not and cannot make that descent. I'm not "wired" for it like all the neurotypical types. I'm not alone in that inability and refusal; when can we emigrate to another planet and create a culture of craftsmen? This culture of suits and middlemen is killing me!

Way to go with that prescient observation, Wired.

Re:Wired must be new here... (1)

Saysys (976276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240833)

Descent is in the eye of the beholder. I like to buy the better product 5-10 years hence and the one I have breaking down in that time frame helps me do that.

Good enough has driven OSS (3, Interesting)

cartman (18204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240693)

The philosophy of "good enough" has driven most open source projects. From linux 1.x kernels to MySQL, from GIMP to KDE, many OSS projects are clones of earlier commercial projects, but with less features and for free. By saying that, I'm not insulting OSS. Most of the time, fewer features (but free) is the best value for most companies and people. That is why OSS is so influential.

Recently, I read an article on slashdot that OSS UI development should stop imitating Mac and Windows, and should start innovating. Also, I've read various things from Eric Raymond and others that OSS should be prized for its innovativeness. But I think that's all wrong. OSS is most valuable when it's not innovative. The most successful OSS projects (like Linux, gcc, mysql, OpenSSL, and others) have been shameless clones, while the innovative OSS projects (like Hurd) died off. Of course there are exceptions, but usually OSS software is the generic drug of the software industry.

There's nothing wrong with that.

People want quality, but cannot recognize it (4, Interesting)

azgard (461476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240789)

I am tired of all that "people are stupid and don't want quality" and "worse is better" crap. This is not true at all.

People want quality products that last, unless they are overpriced. The problem is, it's much harder to recognize quality, especially in modern products, thus there is no market pressure for it. But there is a market pressure from the investor's end to produce as much things as possible.

Ultimately, it's an issue of asymmetric information and trust. Consider buying a computer. Say, you have a 2 year warranty period in EU. You have two choices - one for 200$, and the other for 300$, but the producer claims it will last at least 3 years (but the warranty is still 2 years). So, which one are you going to choose? The cheaper one of course. Because you have no insurance that the other will not last say 2.5 year, in which case you would be screwed. This is a classic situation on a market with asymmetric information, as described in George Akerlof's Market for Lemons.

Furthermore, the companies want to sell as much product as they can. Company building products to last 20 years (with warranty, so assume you can trust this deal) would be at a disadvantage to company making products to last 5 years, because the profits of the latter would be higher (it costs more to produce 4 products than 1, so with the same margin, company can make more profit). In history, companies (mostly found by idealistic engineers) believed that building quality product is better, but in the 70s the MBA types they installed instead realized they are wrong, so that's why it went downhill ever since. Even if you would try to switch companies, if all of them are doing that, it gets useful.

It's just normal capitalism in play, but most people didn't know the rules at the beginning, and now that large companies started to optimize by the rules, it's just not fun anymore.

Was "Good Enough" the Past of Technology? (1)

simplerThanPossible (1056682) | more than 4 years ago | (#29240831)

Well, "Good Enough" was the Past of Technology, so I guess so. But the truth is that industries fluctuate on their focus.

When the market demands more features and performance than the technology provides, then the businesses that improve the technology become the industry leaders. Think silicon: intel, RAM, Flash, iPods.

But when the market is happy with the features ("good enough"), and demands cheaper products, then the businesses that can make them cheaper become the market leaders.

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