Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Wheel Is Turning and You Can't Slow Down

Microsoft is running ads claiming that its cloud services are improving golf by allowing players to analyze every shot taken by every golfer in every tour event in great detail.

This is an example of the "iron cage" of competition that Max Weber talked about. The world is not a better place if the average tour pro now shoots a 69 or 70 instead of a 71. This "service" does not improve the quality of anyone's life. But once one player starts using it, every other player has to use it as well, or they will fall behind.

It is similar to steroids, or weight training, or swim training now lasting 6 hours a day instead of 2. They are all zero-sum games: it is hard for me to see how audiences are any more entertained by football players today, who spend hours a week in the weight room, than they were by players in my father's day, in the early 50s, when he tells me no players at all lifted weights. (And he played Division I ball against people like Jim Brown, and his brother was drafted by the Bears, so this was not low-level football.) But once one person begins spending a lot of time in the weight room, everyone else has to follow.

As the sage said:

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down
You can't let go and you can't hold on
You can't go back and you can't stand still
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I have noticed this difference between American and Nordic technologists.

    Americans want more and more advanced technology, while Nordic people just want to solve problems, irrespective of technology.

    F.e. the Americans invented the app Delectable, which uses computer vision to determine a wine's qualities and properties by taking a photo of it. But Danish people invented the app, Vivino, which simply sends the photo to a team of 50 Indians working overtime to recognize the bottle of wine and they send back their match. Vivino ended up more accurate and hence more popular.

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