Friday, December 22, 2006

Tyranny of large numbers

It bites us in (interestingly) contradictory ways.

Why is TV so bad? [via]:

TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests.
-- David Foster Wallace

* * *

Why do popular software programs become bloated?

A lot of software developers are seduced by the old ‘80/20’ rule. It seems to make a lot of sense: 80% of the people use 20% of the features. So you convince yourself that you only need to implement 20% of the features, and you can still sell 80% as many copies.

Unfortunately, it's never the same 20%. Everybody uses a different set of features. In the last 10 years I have probably heard of dozens of companies who, determined not to learn from each other, tried to release ‘lite’ word processors that only implement 20% of the features. This story is as old as the PC. Most of the time, what happens is that they give their program to a journalist to review, and the journalist reviews it by writing their review using the new word processor, and then the journalist tries to find the ‘word count’ feature which they need because most journalists have precise word count requirements, and it's not there, because it’s in the ‘80% that nobody uses,’ and the journalist ends up writing a story that attempts to claim simultaneously that lite programs are good, bloat is bad, and I can’t use this damn thing ‘cause it won't count my words.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I do not know if you are aware of wikimapia. IF not...

    which shows yeshwantpur bus stand. you can trace IISc from here if you know the road. you can add your own texts indicating your Lab. Trace your Lab, mark it and tell me. May be at least I can see your vehicle parked outside your Lab (if not you)!