Saturday, September 24, 2005

Won't get fooled again

A look into Microsoft's code dev revamp.

What's gets me a little bit is that, in some axis, this is parallel to the "anti-PR" PR often used by MS executives - namely, stating that the last product suffered because of X, and new, upcoming product is naturally better because they've learned and they've changed things around.

OK, this makes sense, and I guess why this makes consumers trust them "again" makes some kind of sense - so long as you assume that consumers and investors alike are short-term lemmings with the memory of a goldfish - generally, this assumption is proved true.

So, much like Moss and her coke habits, it's not a shock then. But isn't this a very real problem in itself? Should we pride ourselves on having a world in which everything we do is based upon the previous and following 2 or 3 years? What keeps us in this perpetual domain of gullibility?

Perhaps we're naturally gullible - we want to trust people, just like we want things to work out as we always dreamed they would. Maybe this goes hand-in-hand with the idea that all we're ever being sold - from the carefully-picked colour schemes of car adverts, to the psychologically fulfilling curves of mp3 players - is a fantasy. If aesthetics and branding are the "arty-farty" side of marketing wish fulfillment, then perhaps the ability to forgive and completely forget is the more "down to earth" version - the business way of finding the ideal horse to back. We want things to work, we want things to return money. So we look past ongoing inconsistencies.

The same phenomenon appears in politics, as has been well known for many years now. Only when things go really badly wrong - and I mean riots, death, gargantuan media coverage and society-stopping action - does the fallibility of the situation - and of the leaders who were meant to avoid it - get engraved into our minds. But on the whole, a moderate government can get away with many dark things, and still be forgiven. People carry on believing that the new promises will be acted out, and a few ruffled feathers can soon be put back into place by picking a universal foe. Standard tactics.

I think the problem is perhaps that we are ultimately extremely constrained, in terms of how much of any given situation we can actually ever see. We only see things once they get to breaking point - wars, suffering, floods - and the fly-by-night nature (which is inherent) of the news broadcast machine only has limited time to investigate the true causes of Why Things Happen. This, in turn, leads us to have an incomplete picture of cause and effect in our heads - in other words, we tend to only associate disasters/flaws/etc with a very small, and ultimately unimportant subset of the factors that led to them. We never get around to really understanding why things happen, so we carry on making the same mistakes, continue to believe the lies.

Changing this isn't easy. Our lives are now constructed so that we don't have the time, energy or motivation to understand things. Hopefully, as I go into academia, I'll bear this in mind - accessibility of understanding, and of uncovered research, can often be just as important as the discoveries themselves.

P.S. Is it just me, or does Jim Allchin look like Tony Blair?

No comments: