Subject: Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 18:12:58 -0800

On 10/24/02 12:27 PM, "Benjamin J. Tilly" <ben_tilly@operamail.com> wrote:

> There is a strong tendancy to give undue weight to that
> which we can readily quantify.  Even when it is known to
> be wrong.

Sorry to be so late in picking up on this little bit.  But...

My all time favorite piece on this was something I saw referred to in
coevolution quarterly once, called The Clothesline Paradox.  I dug this up
recently (found it in a PDF somewhere via google), and got the quote.  It's
referred to in http://www.oreillynet.com/cs/user/view/cs_msg/7969, where I
wrote:

No one said that software has "little actual value as a product", just that
if you only measure the software that is sold, you miss a great deal of the
market. This is a variation of what solar activist Steve Baer called "the
clothesline paradox" in his 1975 book Sunspots:


"If you take down your clothesline and buy an electric clothes dryer, the
electric consumption of the nation rises slightly. If you go in the other
direction and remove the electric clothes dryer and install a clothesline,
the consumption of electricity drops slightly, but there is no credit given
anywhere on the charts and graphs to solar energy, which is now drying the
clothes...."

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Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
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