Saturday, November 15, 2014

Just Good Enough, Bricoleurs, and Convenient Inconvenience

In The Savaga Mind Claude Levi-Strauss referred to Bricoleurs.  Amen.  Nuf said for now.

I remembered this when trying to fix a clogged faucet, one of those pull out jobs with a sprayhead.  I cannot find an instruction on the Internet for disassembly of the sprayhead: it is assumed that one just pops over to the nearest Home Depot and buys a replacement.  This is intended as a commentary on our society.  The throw away society.  In one of the coolest videos ever, that was actually not a youtube video, but was posted there, a 13 year old Canadian girl and her friends got some money together to attend a climate conference in Brazil, where she spoke out to the assembled powerful and rich  about many things. Unforgettably, she said "we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share."  The transcript for that speech is found here, among other places.

Marshallese fishermen use the odd beer can on the beach, tearing it to form a knife edge, to clean a fish.  Or, if that isn't enough, find broken glass to put to the same task.  Primitively, men did the same thing---utilize what is available to solve the problem.

I will call this is a designed inconvenience, now a part of how we think.  You need a youtube HOWTO video to figure out how to unscrew a showerhead, buy a replacement (even being given a selection of local outlets), and screw the new one back on.  But to take it apart?  A special tool would probably cost double the showerhead.  It's the way we think.

Why does this remind me of the concept of "Just Good Enough," pointed out to me by my friend Craig Smith.  I think this is what it is: no longer interested in making a high quality photograph, with fine resolution and perfect composition, dust spots touched up, mounted on a matt in a golden triangle---we now are pleased enough with a crappy digital shot made with a phone.  The phones get better, even digital point and shoots, but they never achieve that excellence we once found essential.  The quality of a recording made with a cell phone is just good enough.  Perhaps I have subverted this idea to my own means.  It is referred on Wikipedia as The Principle of Good Enough. The kernel of it is cited as follows:

The principle of good enough or "good enough" principle is a rule for software and systems design. It indicates that consumers will use products that are good enough for their requirements, despite the availability of more advanced technology.[1]

Enough said.

Or maybe not: the Internet has been devolving into an operating system for consumerism appliances.

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