Thursday, November 24, 2011

Good Enough is NOT Good Enough


Since the dawn of mankind, the popular perception of the status quo for almost every single "technological" thing was "it works fine, why change it?"  They said that about the chariot, the map of the heavens/planets/sun, the catapult, the bow and arrow, the wagon, the castle and moat, the front-loading single-shot pistol and rifle, Sulpha drugs, leeches, slavery, battleships, Model T cars, steam engines.  Remember Roger Bannister?  Yeah, EVERY single "expert" and physician of his time swore on a truckload of Bibles that any human who broke the 4 minute mile would die.  The human body simply couldn't achieve that goal.


Then someone stuck their neck out and said "fuck that!".  I'm sorry if that offends you, but that's essentially what they said/did.  And for doing that they were ridiculed, shunned, banished, jailed and even killed.  They dared to disagree with the Status Quo; the masses; the majority.  Nearly every single one of the people the broke those de facto "rules" or "limits" endured mockery throughout their efforts to break the barrier they set out to overcome.  Some never saw recognition, as they died before the "masses" woke up and realized that they had indeed done something incredibly helpful or history-changing for mankind.



Remember the story of Thomas Watson Sr. and Thomas Watson Jr.?  The infamous head of IBM who insisted a "personal computer" was a dumb idea and would never be practical.  Junior waited until his turn came up and then he seized upon the moment to introduce the "IBM personal computer".  Same thing for HP and Atari and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  


So, when I look around at the stupid crap we just "live with" and pay little attention to, saying things like "it's worked for years/decades, why change it?" I want to shake my head in disbelief that we've given up.  A bar of soap?  A toothbrush.  Deoderant.  Frying pans.  Toasters (have they ever been improved?  it's long overdue), Roofing Technology, Door ways.  A coffee cup.  Software.  Computers.  Aircraft. Surgical Procedures. Medicine.  Cancer Treatments.  Education systems. Weapons technology. Network routing and throughput.  Movies.  Music. Art.  Food. The list goes on and on.


Never say "good enough"!  Anything you point at can be improved upon.  Anything.  Maybe not in our lifetime.  Maybe not until future discoveries lead to secondary potentials to be realized.  But they will happen.  The longer we stand still, point and say "it's fine as-is" the longer it will take to make it better.


Most people look at Cancer treatment and say "wow, look how far they've come.", until their 5 year old child is diagnosed with Cancer.  Then it quickly becomes "when will it be cured?" and "why can't we make faster progress?"  Aircraft are just fine until the next crash investigation reveals a design flaw.  Music is just fine until you hear that one new song that grabs your attention and makes you ask "who is that?!"  Same for art, movies and food by the way.  And software?  In 2004 there was no Facebook.  There was no Twitter, FourSquare, Yelp or UrbanSpoon either.  In 2000 there wasn't any Google either.  No VMware.  All the "smart" phones were bulky, limited and boring.  Are you old enough to remember the first laptops?  The first microwave ovens?  The first video tape recorders?  The first tablet prototypes in the 1990s?  Today those things seem like steam engines.  Remember when car companies swore air bags, even seat belts, were a complete waste of time?   Remember when they thought stomach ulcers were just bad luck and you had to live with them?


Good enough is NOT good enough.  Ever.
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