Friday, September 27, 2013

Out of Many, One

Law #20:  People will constantly and consistently underestimate the impact their very being represents.
Here's something I get to witness every morning on my way to work (mainly since summer is over).  There's a high school on the road that I have to drive on and every morning it's backed up right to my street (I'm on 6th; it's on 1st).  The reason the traffic is so bad is because not only are kids constantly crossing the street to get to the school, but also drivers are dropping off kids as they pass it (who subsequently cross the street).  So what's the point of all this as compared to Law #20?  It's that the individual actions of each of those people culminate to create one huge clusterfuck.  I like to use traffic as an example but people don't seem to realize that if other people follow suit and do something they just did it accumulates and multiplies.  That's definitely not always a bad thing.  If one person votes and everyone else follows suit huge changes can happen.

You see we often like to think our actions are singular and they don't really affect anything.  Well you're not alone buddy.  Literally.  And they're out there thinking the same thing.  That the individual things they do ultimately don't affect the big picture.  They do.  Individual actions add up and ultimately inspires huge changes.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tempting Fate

Law #19:  It's better to be safe than right.

Ever hear somebody say "I knew that wouldn't work." or "I told you it wouldn't work".  These words usually follow somebody doing something stupid that most likely could have caused them serious bodily hard.  What would motivate any individual to do such a thing?  The desire to prove themselves right.  It reminds of young Marty McFly and his weakness for being called chicken.  It became a running gag throughout the entire series where Marty was on track to accomplish something but was quickly distracted once someone called him a chicken, leading him to make several costly (and usually painful) mistakes.  Seriously though, we all know Biff Tannen would have mopped the floor with Marty if he was ever given the opportunity.  Marty's pretty good at running away.  But I digress. Yes there are several scientific theories as to why we, as humans, constantly need to prove ourselves right (for which I'm far to lazy to research just for this blog post).  I think though it takes a special kind of stupid to risk harm for the sake of being right.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mountains Out of Molehills

Law #18: Never underestimate people's ability to make small things seem bigger.
No doubt you've heard the phrase "Making a mountain out of a molehill".  You've probably never seen an actually molehill, so here you go.  There's even a mole in this one.  Anyway, I'm also pretty sure you know what the phrase means.  In short, it's taking something really small and making it seem like it's something really big.

Lately it seems that extremism is the threat du jour.  If you want somebody to be for or against something, rather than giving the facts and letting people make informed decisions people mostly resort to scaring you into their way of thinking.  It's also applied to other things like following certain social structures or performing a certain practice or even affecting things we purchase.

In my experience, nothing seems immune or off-limits.  Why do we do it?  Because it's kinda the easy way out.  Giving people facts, telling them the deal, ACTUALLY EDUCATING THEM is more difficult that just saying "That's bad and if you mess with that you're bad too".  Trust me, you've heard that line before and in some instances you were probably inclined to believe it.  It might have been because it came from someone you admire or it might have been the result of peer pressure.

So ultimately my point here is simply to do you.  Those folks who blow up small things and make them seem huge?  They aren't going away.  All you can do is think about how you view the world and decide for yourself how big a deal something really is.  And when you figure it out, have some pretty compelling reasons for thinking that way.

Friday, May 31, 2013

I Don't Like Dislike

Law #17:  You don't need a reason to like something.  You do however need a reason to NOT like something.
Ah the Facebook like.  Probably the most prolific currency on the Web to date.  To some it's worth more than money.  Heck there are even people willing to pay actual money for a like (not legal by the way so don't start thinking this is your new career opportunity).  Voting things up isn't exactly new on the Web though.  It's actually been around a long time.  But something about it always griped me.

As much as you hear that Facebook will someday give people the opportunity to "dislike" something, don't hold your breath on that one.  Their reasoning does make sense, but I'm against it for a much simpler one.  I don't think anyone should be allowed to express dislike for anything unless they can provide a logical and/or compelling argument why.  Yeah I know.  Blah blah blah America, blah blah blah first amendment.  That's all well and good, but simple dislike is really a rare emotion.  There's almost always a reason for dislike.  I don't like fish...because I'm allergic to it.  I don't like baseball...because I think the game is slow and boring.  See how that works?

The reason it's a problem for me (and for you too) is that people end discussions with "I don't like it" and that's it.  The end.  Imagine if every congressional bill ended with this (don't get me wrong, a lot of them still do).  If we don't understand why we don't move forward.  It's that simple. Naturally, discussion doesn't always change people's mind but at least we keep the conversation in play.  We have much to discuss.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This Isn't The Implementation You're Looking For

Law #16: Implementations should conform to your policy or give you a better one.

I know this one is kinda cryptic but hear me out.  Have you ever bought an appliance that was supposed to make your life easier and you find you have to rearrange the entire kitchen just to use it?  It's kind of like that.  If you implement something into your life, your job, your ecosystem and it totally screws up policies you had in place before this implementation showed up then perhaps this isn't the implementation you're looking for.  Unless of course your original policy was crap.  It's a simple test:  Does the implementation make things harder or more simple?

I say this as a tech and watching people implement sweeping systems without the proper focus testing.  Often these implementations forget to consider the most important element:  the human one.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Karma Is A Bitch

Law #15:  While it may pay off in the short term, being a asshole will screw you over over time.
Mean people suck.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of them out there and they're running around free to do their assholery.  Assholery, however, begets assholery.  I will admit, being an asshole has a lot of short term benefits.  It creates an illusion of confidence that women seem attracted to.  It gets you things you want because people just want you out of their space as soon as possible. Being an asshole makes you memorable.

But eventually dickishness will catch up to you.  While people might defer to you while you're around, when you're not, nobody trusts you for anything.  When you're not around, the people who you've been an asshole to are exponentially happier (naturally you don't care, because you're an asshole).  And the ultimate comeuppance, when you actually need something from someone you're been an asshole to they will in turn be an asshole to you.  Assholery begets assholery.  You'll find with time you have to go further and further out of your way to do things because everyone in your immediate vicinity knows you're an assshole and they want as little to do with you as possible.

Now I realize my post sounds like it's geared towards men but I'm equal opportunity.  Women also have incredible capacity for assholery.  We just don't call them that.  We call them what we call Karma.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No Perfect Mousetrap

Law #14:  It doesn't matter how well your machine works, someone will find a way to break it.
I was in line at the Subway (I prefer Gourmet Gallery but I felt like a change of pace).  Got me a footlong turkey sub.  One thing you'll notice about how they work at Subway is they follow the assembly line structure.  It's only 3 steps: first person puts together the basic sandwich, second person handles the topping and the third checks you out.  For the most part it's perfect.  However today it broke.  See they ran out of lettuce so we had to wait a bit while they got more.  The person behind me had a shorter sandwich with practically no extra toppings but the lettuce so she was waiting for me finish my sandwich.  Ah, but she didn't wait.  She jumped past me and went right to the checkout.  Had I not been watching where my sandwich was and if we had similar sized sandwiches it might have been a mix-up.  She broke the assembly line simply by skipping me.

I tell this story as a warning to be vigilant.  Keep an eye on your machine and be ready to fix it.  Somebody will break it.