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Average Lies 2

Edit: see the comments about the original purpose of the VCR and why the clock was important. That said the overall idea still stands and applies to IOT, cameras, chips. 

When I was a kid there was something I didn’t get. Why did VCRs have a clock? The thing never seemed to work correctly, was slightly different from every other clock in the house, and wasn’t central to the functionality of the VCR unit. I was going to watch True Lies (again) and did not need to know what time it was.

giphy

As an adult I think I get it. The VCR had a clock because clocks were inexpensive to install. A few cents may not make sense from a JTBD approach, it does make sense from a sales approach. When people compare A to B at the same price but A has something B does not (a clock), consumers will choose A even if it’s a feature they don’t really need.

Like a VCR clock.

The same thing happened with pictures. Instagram changed not only how people took photos but how many. Pictures are cheap to take and share. As things become digitized they are cheaper.

Like numbers.

More counts, more code, more algorithms, more nodes. The network grows and the network shows everywhere that Mikey-boy goes. 

We are counting more and computing more which means we will be sharing more numbers. This Average Lies series (part 1) is a reminder to dig deeper into numbers and come up with a framework for when average is, and is not a good measurement.

  • Good: Biological (height). Mediocristan. Large samples. Homogeneous.
  • Bad: Social (media). Extremistan. Small samples. Heterogeneous.

Here are three more examples:

On The Long View, Moshe Milevsky said, “The number of times you’ve circled the sun, your chronological age, doesn’t really reflect the years you have remaining. You can be fifty-five years old chronologically, and I can be fifty-five years old chronologically but that doesn’t really tell us how long we have to spend in the lifecycle.”

Tuscan is cooler but south of Phoenix.

The most successful country in the NBA? Poland of course.

As numbers are cheaper to produce more numbers will be produced. Like VCR clocks and Instagram pictures, some will be good but some will not.

Want more? Check out this pay-what-you-want placebo prescription pdf.

3 replies on “Average Lies 2”

VCRs had a clock so you could program them to record stuff when you were not home

That was their original purpose

Playing store bought or rented movies was an afterthought!

From: The Waiter’s Pad Reply-To: The Waiter’s Pad Date: Monday, July 6, 2020 at 11:39 AM To: “barry@ritholtzwealth.com” Subject: [New post] Average Lies 2

MIKE posted: “When I was a kid there was something I didn’t get. Why did VCRs have a clock? The thing never seemed to work correctly, was slightly different from every other clock in the house, and wasn’t central to the functionality of the VCR unit. I was going to wat”

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