[nSLUG] Re: Please do not use Reply for new topics

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Sun Oct 11 14:47:00 ADT 2009

Jason Kenney <jdkenney at gmail.com> wrote:

> Speed limits SHOULD be changed in many instances (but not all), the
> biggest and most obvious example being in the US where the limit is
> 55mph that is universally ignored, both by motorists and by police
> issuing speeding tickets.

The RFC providing for the US national speed  limit was obsolesced over
10 years ago (by Congress, not IETF or IANA. :-)

> If the RFC doesn't reflect actual human behavior, it's also going to
> be ignored.

Human behavior is heterogeneous.  Using such measures as mean, mode or
median, we arrive at such assertions as, "Half the people you see on
the road have an IQ under 100."  Many people -- say, the middle
quintile [1] and downward, aren't smart enough [1] to use complex
tools to do complex tasks.  What do you get if you try to make complex
tools seem simple enough for such people so that they'll buy them?
Well, you get MS Windoes.

The computer is a very complex tool. Some of the tasks it does are
superficially simple.  Hitting a nail with a hammer is superficially
very simple -- anyone can do it -- but is mediated via enormous
complexity in the central nervous system.  Making a violin, OTOH, is a
complex task but it requires years to learn.  "Lyffe so shorte, the
crafte so long to learne."  But we do not change the specs for concert
instruments so that anyone -- a hillbilly with only a pocket knife or
Joe Hobbyist who loves his radial arm saw -- can knock one out in a
couple of days from recycled shipping pallets.

Accomplishing complex tasks well is not accommodating of human
behavior.  The humans have to accommodate the demands of the task.
Sometimes they have to actually learn hard stuff.  If some guy in the
hills makes a fiddle with his pocket knife, coats it with house paint
and gets some happy tunes from it, well and good, but he doesn't get
to play it in the NY Philharmonic.

If the computer were fully to accommodate lowest common denominator
human behavior, then when you turned one on, it would say, "It's taken
care of.  Go have a beer and don't bother me with questions."

> Can you respect the RFC still without requiring a change in
> behaviour of how the vast majority of people use e-mail.

At the risk of belaboring the point, the "vast majority of people"
happily use Windoes.  QED.  On another list, someone wrote,

    My understanding is that the next turn of the cycle post-new-
    consumer goods is what has been called "the experience economy"
    i.e. selling experiences rather than goods.

MS can sell the "user experience" wherein anybody can to whatever
[s]he likes.  The RFCs, however, are designed to make stuff actully
work well and users needs must accommodate the RFCs if they want stuff
to work well for them.

Rant mode OFF,
- Mike

[1] By whatever measure

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^

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