Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Some thoughts on change over the last couple of years.

"Black guy asks nation for change" - http://www.theonion.com/content/news/black_guy_asks_nation_for_change
"Formula One teams reject scoring system as FIA performs dramatic U-turn"
"Facebook's redesign: Time to listen to users?"

My personal views on the 3 examples:
1- Almost anyone would have been better than George W. Bush, but I do like Obama, particularly the grandiose way he speaks in public.
2- I know I'll still watch F1 regardless of the rules. I've grown accustomed over the winter to the site of new wings etc. The scoring system isn't the one I'd choose, but then again nor is its replacement. Personally I'd vote for a points system, with 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points available for the top 8 places. But I don't feel that my view carries much weight, and accept that it needn't (as I said, I'd watch anyway, they don't need to draw in my attention).
3- I've not liked any of the major Fb redesigns over the past 2 years. In fact, the Facebook profile of Facebook itself includes photos of previous homepages, and I preferred the oldest, followed by the next oldest, etc whilst my least favourite is the current incarnation. I disliked and dislike the previous incarnation, but find it much better than the new one. I even posted a note expressing similar sentiments in 2006, after (yet) another major change.

Responses to change:
Emotional attachment to the familiar - quite reasonable, particularly if things work well. Can be caricatured as "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" or as being anti-innovative. My view is that innovation is better focused on things that don't work, or are causing harm (eg banking and energy sectors).
Novelty value - The phrase "all that glistens is not gold" or derivations thereupon predate Shakespeare and Cervantes. This source (http://www.flickr.com/groups/preciousmetal/discuss/72057594091128141/) indicates that it predates even Chaucer. There is, however, a natural curiosity in most people, such that change can attract interest. I believe that is the principle behind the last 6 years' worth of rule changes in formula 1 and also in the success of Obama in defeating Clinton for the Democratic nomination (thereafter his election was fait accompli, or close to it, in my view). One should be wary, however, as the phrase indicates, since not everything that intrigues is worthy of attention.

I'll end with my advice on the 2nd and 3rd examples (Nation already having welcomed "black guy's" call for change). Formula 1 should stop changing its rules every year. Wins should be more greatly rewarded relative to 2nd and 3rd places than they currently are, but not in the manner currently scheduled for 2010. Fighting for lower places is intriguing, too - especially when it involves a title challenger who is out of position for whatever reason (poor qualifying, poor pitstop, accident at first corner, etc)

Facebook should not stop changing, but should take note of the detail of people's complaints. I, for instance dislike that you can hardly see new friend requests and event invitations and their equivalents in the way pages are currently displayed, however I do support the availability of applications - they are a wonderful way of being able to pre-judge people's intelligence - the more they have, and the more trivial they are, the less intelligent the individual. Like all prejusice this is only correct in some cases, but is something people should consider before asking me which character from Friends I am most like.

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