|“||When the method or machinery for accomplishing a given result has been so changed that an unskillful workman can take the place of a good workman, then, in the natural order of things there should also be some corresponding change by which the displaced workman may also progress.||”|
|— James Hartness, 1910|
|“||It is unlikely that the automatic factory will appear suddenly. Like the machine tool itself, it will just grow by steps until eventually it is here.||”|
|— William Pease, 1952, in the seminal report of the birth of numerical control, "An automatic machine tool." Scientific American 1952 Sep; 187(3):101–115.|
|“||One theme common to all of these failures, however, is that the decisions that led to failure were made when the leaders in question were widely regarded as among the best companies in the world. There are two ways to resolve this paradox. One might be to conclude that [these firms] must never have been well managed. Maybe they were successful because of good luck and fortuitous timing, rather than good management. Maybe they finally fell on hard times because their good fortune ran out. Maybe. An alternative explanation, however, is that these failed firms were as well-run as one could expect a firm managed by mortals to be—but that there is something about the way decisions get made in successful organizations that sows the seeds of eventual failure. […] What this implies at a deeper level is that many of what are now widely accepted principles of good management are, in fact, only situationally appropriate.||”|
|— Clayton M. Christensen, 1997. [Reading Jill Lepore's intelligent critique of Christensen's 1997 book made me realize (1) that it's quite fitting that the next quote falls directly after this one and (2) that this quote, in meta fashion, applies to disruption itself as well as to other management notions. That is, as Lepore says, some people try to see disruptive innovation everywhere in everything, but the application of the theory may be only situationally appropriate. Not that every insight he uncovered is wrong—just that you have to maintain a feedback channel about how you are applying or extrapolating it. Thus, this should be an instance not of dismissal but rather of downgrading from an overhyped, misextrapolated state.]|
|“||Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails. This is "The Generalized Peter Principle". There is much temptation to use what has worked before, even when it may exceed its effective scope. Peter observed this about humans.||”|
|— Peter Principle > Overview|
|“||An authority isn't a person or institution who is always right—ain't no such animal. An authority is a person or institution who has a process for lowering the likelihood that they are wrong to acceptably low levels. [...] And this is what I think is really worth celebrating as Wikipedia begins its second decade. It took one of the best ideas of the last 500 years—peer review—and expanded its field of operation so dramatically that it changed the way authority is configured. [...] [Wikipedia's nature] has involved the most amazing expansion of peer review ever: Wikipedia's editor-in-chief is a rotating quorum of whoever is paying attention.||”|
|— Clay Shirky, "Clay Shirky on Wikipedia's 10th Anniversary", The Atlantic, 2011-01-13, and "Wikipedia—an unplanned miracle", The Guardian, 2011-01-14.|
|“||One of my overriding beliefs, only partially tongue-in-cheek, is
"The world is incompetent."
Those who know me have seen the sign in my office with the preceding saying and have heard me use this in talks since the mid-1970s, and I say it only half jokingly. Examples covered in this chapter prove again that if there is a way to mess things up, someone will usually find it.
Countering these examples are companies who have taken visible proactive actions that are effectively the opposite of the error-inducing behaviors of the preceding companies. That is not to say that the following companies listed do not make errors; they just seem less prone to error chains that become serious, or they have broken a chain that was on the verge of becoming very serious, regardless of the initiating incident source.
|— Robert E. Mittelstaedt, Jr., executive and longtime Wharton School academic, 2005|
|“||One of the most common fallacies […] is what I call "devalue and dismiss." That is, a writer will come up with some critique of another argument, let us call that argument X, and then dismiss that argument altogether. Afterwards, the thought processes of the dismisser run unencumbered by any consideration of X, which after all is what dismissal means. […] The "devalue" part of this chain may well be justified. But it should lead to "devalue and downgrade," rather than "devalue and dismiss." […] "Devalue and dismiss" is much easier of course, because there then will be fewer constraints on what one can believe and with what level of certainty. "Devalue and downgrade" keeps a lot of balls in the air and that can be tiresome and also unsatisfying, especially for those of us trained to look for neat, intuitive explanations. […] Better yet than "devalue and downgrade" might be "devalue, downgrade, and … yet … de-dogmatize," because these models usually point out the limits of our understanding. Those models defeat us, and thus it is odd when we attempt to portray the situation as us defeating them. [¶] Note that very smart people are often good at "devalue and dismiss" because they can come up with a lot of good reasons to devalue the arguments or frameworks of others. But still they should not leap so quickly to the "dismiss."||”|
|— Tyler Cowen on some tendencies of human cognition.|
|“||A human being is not a waxen rubbing, a lifeless imprint taken from some great stony face. Rather he is a Minuteman or a dog soldier at liberty to use the inclinations of the past as he sees fit. He is free to perceive the matrix, and, within his limits, change from it. By seeing both the futility in trying to relive the old life and the danger in trying to obliterate it, man can gain the capacity to make anew. His very form depends not on repetition but upon variation from old patterns. In response to stress, biological survival requires genetic change; it necessitates a turning away from doomed replication. And what of history? Was it different?||”|
|— William Least Heat-Moon, 1982.|
|“||We shall not cease from exploration / and the end of all our exploring / will be to arrive where we started / and know the place for the first time.||”|
|— T.S. Eliot, 1942.|
I do pare down my watchlist on occasion. If I am unresponsive on an article talk page, it may be because I have stopped watching that article. In which case, if you want my attention, you can leave a note on my talk page. — ¾-10
- Regarding political economy:
- Welcome to reality.
- Reality is a mixture of things.
- Corollary: purist ideologies (left, right, or extraspectrum) are incomplete models of reality, and thus, in isolation, what they get wrong will eventually come to outweigh what they get right (once the externality concentrations on either side of the membrane shift to where the outward pumping is fighting too large an incoming tide). But start mashing them up, borrowing the good parts and discarding the bad, and now you're starting to get somewhere. Hint: the invisible hand by itself is an animal. It doesn't necessarily care who it bites, or how bad. But it's our animal, and it turns out that we can't live right without it. The trick is that we have to keep it under rein as our servant. We can't just cut it loose and let it make us its dinner. Wolf, or guide dog? Canine either way, but the devil is in the parameter values.
- The latest iteration of the version that brought the pieces together. The ideas will be out there when the world is ready for them. The final two paragraphs before the refs put things into context (even though the early version of them did contain one conflation that has since been deconflated). As with many arguments in life, it eventually comes down to "you're both half right".
- Those with grown-up attention spans will also want to read one of its references, this book, which explains in detail the reasoning behind the "past performance is no guarantee of future results" point of view.
- You don't have to agree with Ford or with anyone else. The important thing is just to hear them out fully, and then do your own thinking.
- What's interesting to me is that some of the new-market engineering ideas are ways to counteract economic stagnation or decline that are actually implementable starting from current reality (not just pipe dreams), whereas most other ideas that we've heard on that topic have tended to be more or less impractical to implement.
If you've read this far, you may also be interested in ...
I knew I was in love with Wikipedia forever when …
… I clicked through to "Abstraction" and read the hatnote
"This article is about the concept of abstraction in general."
<tattoo>WP 4eva </tattoo> — ¾-10 05:27, 19 February 2010 (UTC)