Good Enough!

A blog about "good enough" things - for those who don't need, can't afford, or don't care about the "very best".

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Systems that are "good enough"

Bruce Sterling wrote a note about Clay Shirky's article about evolvable systems and the Web. The article is old, but definitely relevant to what I'm writing here.

The systems we all use daily, whether they be Internet, Web, television, telephone, or electricity; the ones we just assume are there (until they're not) - these systems all evolved over time, until they were "good enough" to be widely adopted, but not perfect. The key is that they continue to evolve - when something no longer is good enough to do what we want, extensions are created, grafted on (sometimes with bubblegum or duct tape), and we move on. Sometimes, we come back and make the extension work better, sometimes it evolves until it seeems part of the original fabric of things, sometimes extensions die out when something better comes along.

If you're old enough to have had a personal computer in the 80s (or even back in the 70s), think of your first personal computer, then look at everything on your current one. It's still a computer, still basically the same system. Possibly, it's still running an Intel architecture. But look again, or think again, and you realize how much it has evolved over time. Try to remember all of the extensions as they occurred, and the proposed extensions that didn't make it - it's an eye-opener in many ways.

No matter how the changes occur it's an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, process that produces results that stand the test of time. The changes at any given moment are just "good enough" to do what we're trying to do, but with plenty of room for improvement. When you see those changes occurring, you're in a good place. When someone tries to give you a "quantum leap" or "completely revolutionary" change - watch out, that particular technology is possibly going to be a backwater eddy to the main stream.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

"Good Enough" tech blog?

Alice and Bill want to know if they're good enough to win the Best Tech Blog of the Year award.

Given the title of this blog, I just had to comment. I can't say whether they're the best or not, I've not sampled all of the ones out there. But, they're definitely "good enough" in the sense I mean on this blog: they give you what you need, without extra frills and at the right cost. I think they're good enough to be considered one of the best, so I put in a nomination. I'm not making a suggestion - make up your own mind.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Downgrading to "good enough"

I've begun an experiment, of sorts, in the "good enough" vein. I think I've mentioned previously that I bought a low-end PDA to use for addresses and phone numbers. Low-end as it was, it still cost over $100. Now, I've purchased a $12.99 "organizer" and when the software is installed on my PC, I will see if I can download my current address book information into it. It's got a backlight, a minimal 4(?) line LCD, and a QWERTY keyboard. Other than address book functions it has the usual for these kinds of organizers including clock, scheduling, spell checking and calculator functions. There are less expensive models, but they don't have any PC connectivity and I'd really like to avoid re-entering my data again. I chose a keyboard-based one because doing the stylus hunt-and-peck for entering text was really getting old. If this works out, then I'll have successfully downgraded to something that meets my definition of "good enough" - it will do what I want, at the price point I want. Remember, my needs are not for a full PDA, I'm just going to throw this in the suitcase or car to use for looking up phone numbers and addresses, an electronic replacement for a little address book.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Good enough for me, maybe not for you..

At Lost Remote, an article referencing Wired's article about "the Long Tail" reminded of something I've wanted to post for a while.

Media, and especially television, has for so long has been about mass-market consumption, that they've forgotten how to sell to anything less than millions of people. You and I know, however, that none of us all agree, all the time on what's good television. I, for example, would buy DVD copies of Max Headroom episodes and certain commercials (Miller Lite sports-combos like sumo high-dive and full-contact golf, for one example). You probably want the entire "Edge of Night" soap opera and early Milton Berle. Television executives, however, only market DVDs of shows which were popular in the ratings sense; they market to the masses, not to the small niches.

If they'd wake up and market to the hundreds, or thousands, instead of the millions, they'd realize that they could sell this stuff they have on the shelf. Just digitize all of it, and wait for the orders to come in, which can be filled on demand - no shelf space, no warehouses, nothing but a few disk drives to hold the content and a few DVD burners for filling orders. The income wouldn't be huge, but hey - any income from something they didn't think would sell ought to be "good enough", wouldn't you think?