[OT] Sturgeon's Observation: reasons for its truth?

By: Brett (ggtgp.delete@this.yahoo.com), July 13, 2022 12:18 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
anon (anon.delete@this.anon.anon) on July 13, 2022 4:27 am wrote:
> Paul A. Clayton (paaronclayton.delete@this.gmail.com) on July 10, 2022 5:20 am wrote:
> > When science fiction writing was criticized as being 90% crap, Theodore Sturgeon observed that 90% of
> > everything is crap. Previously, I had thought such excessively pessimistic — and if one interpretes
> > "crap" as nauseating and dangerously unhygeinic I doubt
> > one could reasonably claim 90% of everything expressed
> > such negative quality — but I sometimes feel the observation expresses significant truth.
> >
> > Obviously, some of the perception comes from a common human discontent with current conditions.
> > Advertising (and consumerism in general) tends to encourage this discontent, but humans do not need
> > a consumer culture's help to generate envy and ingratitude. (Thankfully, gratitude and respect are
> > also natural human traits. [Respect is not the best word for happiness in others' success and good
> > fortune, but the feeling does seem connected with a sense of honor toward another.])
> >
> > Lower communication costs may increase exposure to both
> > worse and better conditions, facilitating evaluations
> > relative to unusually good quality and readily finding examples of unusually bad quality. Information
> > access may also encourage a false sense of expertise; without sufficient context, difficult problems
> > can seem to have trivial or at least unrealistically easy and effective solutions.
> >
> > (Since the experience and knowledge of experts can lead to biased evaluations — where the mental model of
> > the problem is so thoroughly developed and trusted that alterative
> > solutions are easily discounted without deep
> > consideration — discounting real expertise can be a natural
> > temptation and one cannot just settle a question
> > by asking any expert. Communicating the inadequacies of
> > a novice's perspective in a manner comprehensible to
> > the novice is expensive in time and effort. Repeating this
> > for basically the same problem with moderately different
> > phrasing or parameters is tiring. Having closed-mindedness
> > or cabalistic motives attributed to one's attempts
> > to explain further discourages making the effort. As one with
> > curiosity and vast swathes of ignorance, I sympathize
> > with novices who ask basic misguided questions; "let me Google that for you" is sometimes accurate, but not
> > knowing the proper search terms can make finding information very challenging. Knowing that an expert could
> > easily answer such basic questions also encourages a novice
> > to feel put off when such a question is not quickly
> > provided a friendly answer; an expert's time is more valuable
> > and more in demand, but it is easy to feel that
> > an expert is being stingy. As one with a few areas of moderate expertise who has ocassionally tried to help
> > others, I can sympathize a little about some of the frustrations of experts.)
> >
> > One might also naturally expect almost half of everything produced to be at least slightly
> > sub-par (less than average) and mediocrity to be common (with the complexity of factors
> > affecting product quality and of those affecting quality evaluation, one might expect
> > an approximation of a normal distribution with clumping around the average).
> >
> > The difficulty in communicating some quality factors tends
> > to discourage providing such quality. One can easily
> > see a 5% value benefit from buying the Value Sized package
> > rather than the Standard Sized package for commodity
> > items (when storage is cheap and transaction costs are noticeable
> > — going shopping, making a decision, etc.).
> > For many items "use count" (durability, breadth of applicability)
> > and use value (e.g., reduced time/effort to
> > accomplish a task, self-validation/identification) are not
> > reliably communicated. When such value factors are
> > difficult to communicate, revenue much less profit cannot
> > be increased by producing a more valuable product;
> > the market "communicates" that a feature is not valued because
> > the feature is not reliably observed. (The localized
> > cost of product research relative to product cost can be
> > high for lower-cost items and people rarely evaluate
> > total costs/benefits well — repeating a quick-and-dirty
> > solution a hundred times is easier than taking ten
> > times the effort to learn a solution that is a hundred times more effective/efficient.)
> >
> > (One can also encounter "the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness": "A
> > man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten
> > years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars
> > on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet." This hints at money flow issues — the
> > expected profit for lending the poor man $50 to buy good boots [or leasing such boots] is insufficient,
> > 7% interest is presumably not enough even ignoring risks and transaction costs.)
> >
> > One the positive side, information availability/ease of communication could improve quality.
> > Reviews can reduce the research effort in evaluating a product and availability of information
> > about what others think of products can improve product development.
> >
> > While mass production can make small relative savings appear more significant — "we saved two
> > cents in production costs for this million-per-quarter-selling widget, earning tens of thousands
> > per quarter" — such can also reduce the significance of fixed costs. Much of product quality depends
> > on product design (a fixed cost) and it seems that much of the higher production costs for higher
> > quality products has a fixed nature (I strongly suspect even beyond the cost of making a change).
> > Mass production has made relatively luxurious clothing relatively inexpensive, e.g.
> >
> > Another factor in the disappointing quality of products may be observed in one of my own psychopathologies.
> > When one cares significantly about the quality of what
> > one's organization produces, one will tend to observe
> > short-falls and expend effort to approach, if not excellence, at least something above crap. However, in
> > most organizations quality is not "job one", and weighing aspects of quality and their costs will also
> > differ among observers. An eager beaver may succeed in improving quality through extra effort, but success
> > encourages expanded effort which leads toward burnout, especially when the organization's culture is not
> > supportive of such goals and the eager beaver has insufficient leadership skill (or authority) to change
> > the culture. Working almost exclusively for a paycheck tends not to encourage going the extra mile because
> > financial rewards are rarely proportional to extra effort; excellence generally does not make economic
> > sense. (This seems a natural aspect of excellence; it is not logically justifiable.)
> >
> > (I know I am not at all unique in setting myself up for burnout. The common human desires for significance
> > and for safety encourage working too hard, but most people seem less maladjusted than I am —
> > I am particularly disheartened seeing those who work at least as hard as I do, produce better
> > results, and are not stressed out and do not heap blame on themselves or others because things
> > were not as well-done as they could have been, though such people also give me hope that one can
> > care and work hard without destroying one's physical, mental, or moral health.)
> >
> > I am not convinced that crappiness is unavoidable or necessarily the common case,
> > but I also do not know how to effectively address this problem (I do see it as a
> > sub-optimal condition and not merely an optimum of multiple complex variables).
> >
> > Obviously filtering and feedback can help. In the case of science fiction at the time of Sturgeon's
> > observation, the economic incentives for writing high literary quality science fiction were low (feedback)
> > and the filtering was more strongly based on the quality of "what-if" and technology exploration and
> > adventure (aspects attractive to the readers) than on 'literary' quality. Any specialized product will
> > compare less well by a general standard, but popular use (both breadth of users and number of users)
> > will tend to encourage improvement measured by general standards. A larger population also increases
> > the probability that the best N members will be surpass some measure of quality.
> >
> > I write this partially to rant (the emotional release and limited sense of productivity),
> > but I also hope that others will find something of interest and, especially, that
> > responses will give me (and others) more insight into the problem.
> We are dead living forms walking, we live only once, we cannot choose the era to be
> born from, we cannot choose our parent and neither the education we will receive.
> That said, we must comply with the living habits of the era
> we live in, without having any grasp on how reality evolve.
> It has been like this since the beginning of the civilization, 10k years ago.
> We are the same as ants, but with a 100 years life span.
> Now, i don't need to evaluate how much things are crappy in our current era, a small peak in the past is
> enough to shows how human beings treated Tesla or Turing, just to cite examples that everyone knows.
> So until you understand that the crap have been a fundamental tool to control human
> being society, you will not come to the conclusion that you are just adding your little
> grain of sand in a grand scheme of thing, that you can't even comprehend.
> I wonder why you are not happy about crappy things?
> Maybe because of people implementing a 18$ month plan for BMW heated car seats, or
> AMD/Lenovo locking computer hardware in a way that it can't be reused and resold?

Let me guess, Lenovo is copying Apple and preventing the resale of stolen laptops.

> Most of us, including rich people, are just silent slaves of our society!
> Only a few, on this planet, have the real privilege and power to decide how we will live our lives!

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TopicPosted ByDate
[OT] Sturgeon's Observation: reasons for its truth?Paul A. Clayton2022/07/10 05:20 AM
  You are overcomplicating things ...Mark Roulo2022/07/10 09:00 AM
    You are overcomplicating things ...---2022/07/10 12:21 PM
  Knowing what is and isn’t your responsibilityGreg2022/07/12 05:42 AM
    Knowing what is and isn’t your responsibilitysomeone2022/07/12 01:47 PM
      Knowing what is and isn’t your responsibilityGreg2022/07/12 03:25 PM
  [OT] Sturgeon's Observation: reasons for its truth?anon2022/07/13 04:27 AM
    [OT] Sturgeon's Observation: reasons for its truth?Brett2022/07/13 12:18 PM
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