Subject: Re: condescending to customers
From: Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 03:06:36 -0800 (PST)



       Stephen:

       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.

Gumby said rather more than that, unfortunately.

But what you've said is something I think all three of us would agree
about -- if only because typical articles are recapitualating ideas
that more than 100 experts already agree on.  If you're trying to get
orientation in a new space, the trade press is very handy.

	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.  

"microns-deep" is a problematic description there.  It does seem like
many of the columnists are taking cues from the people they talk to,
which from a techno-detail-oriented perspective is shallow.  On the
other hand, the good columnists are talking to people into the
details, emeshed in a web of trust, so that what they wind up saying
has some depth.  It's kinda neat that thought works out that way --
that a decent heuristic is to put together high-level ideas without
fully subsuming the low-level ideas that give them support (or, in
other words, by building a model that the detail folks would have
trouble coming up with themselves).  But it is only a heuristic and
problems, such as noncritical evaluation of the intention of
standards, are an example of where I think that heursitic falls down.

Another of my hanging-out-in-the-rafters perspectives is that the big
decision makers in big organizations have a sort of Machiavellian
collection of advisors who help to assemble their world view,
attending to a lot of the details that, in sum, would be beyond the
ability of any individual to cope with.  Sorry to get all new-age
Minsky-ish about it, but heuristics like that are what define minds --
even collective minds.


	And they will make penny-ante deals based solely on that
	information, too.

I think you mostly mean quick action on decisions that aren't that
critical, but there's another view of the wealth of penny-ante deals:
I think big customers dole out plenty of low-money deals in the name
of high-risk (but low stakes) speculation, presuming that most are
just a waste of money, but that some lead to good stuff.  I've seen
this particularly in industries where the technology is a big field of
contention rather than something that's going to evolve in predictable
ways.  A penny-ante deal is a way of saying: "Ok, what you say is
interesting; I'd like you to remain in business long enough to say
more."  Just keeping the sauce warm, or some such analogy.

-t