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.
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.
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.
6 thoughts on “Average Lies 2”
For recording shows
Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________
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: “firstname.lastname@example.org” 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”
Ha. Had no idea. That’s a history worth exploring and probably one full of parallels to today.
[…] saw: never as useful as I expect. Part of the reason average sticks around is economics, It’s cheap to produce.. Average is a crude tool, like with student loan debt, and often hides the heterogeneity of a […]
[…] Heterogeneous: a data set where the mean is misleading. More here, here, and here. […]
[…] approach. Sometimes average measures are worse. Exercise may be like that. Every workout at 145 beats per minute is not as good as some workouts […]