Subject: Re: condescending to customers
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: 04 Mar 2002 16:27:57 +0900

>>>>> "Tom" == Tom Lord <> writes:

    Tom> Gumby has provided some *real* examples of condescending to
    Tom> customers:

Get a grip on yourself; you're thinking like a university professor.
"Students are smarter than that, I know because when they talk to me
they pay close attention."  So how come so many "smart" students flunk
so many tests?  Because the vast majority don't have time for brown-
nosing the prof unless it's mission-critical to them.  Which means
they need to _know_ it's mission-critical.  This awareness usually
penetrates about 15 minutes into the final exam....

Customers are the same, except that their reasons for failing to pay
attention are far less frivolous than "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll on
school nights."

Agreed, the trade press is usually a poor substitute for real
information at the level you (or any of the posters to FSB) can
provide it.  No customer with expected survival time longer than 6
weeks pays a large fraction of attention to them in mission-critical
areas.  But _gumby is right_: on all the issues where they have no
idea yet what's important, the trade press gets it a lot more right
than any collection of 100 "real experts" could---and in a lot less
space and reader attention cost.  In fact, you can't possibly get it
right unless the attention cost is low enough; unread truths are
usually far less useful than read lies (since you can often recognize
the latter, and do the opposite).

Nobody said customers go on to make billion-dollar deals on the basis
of the trade press.  But it does color _which_ billion-dollar deals
will enter their spheres of attention, because the same microns-deep
columnist who called their attention to the issue in the first place
also mentioned a couple of vendors.  So they will concentrate on those
vendors while doing their in-depth research.  And they will make
penny-ante deals based solely on that information, too.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
              Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.