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more on precision


Precision minded people can be very disdainful of iterative types. I remember walking through a chaotic looking stationary store in Egypt and thinking ‘how can they make money?’ But then I noticed the stock was always changing – new things were tried- if they succeeded they’d be re-ordered and you’d see a shelf-full. If not, it’d be gone in a week. In fact the turnaround was way faster than a similar chain store in the UK- and, no surprises, it had GREAT stock- all manner of goodies for a fancy notebook and pen enthusiast like myself. The iterative approach is actually what lies behind the secret of classical economics and its love affair with supply and demand theory. Only with lots of transactions does supply and demand work- you need feedback, lots of iterations.

School is a precision minded training environment. Precision types will probably be rewarded- you only get one stab at an exam, you only get one go at writing your essay or thesis- you can’t do version 2.0, 2.1.

I’m interested in the impact precision mindedness has on energy. In carpentry the saying is: measure twice, cut once. You HAVE to be precise. But really top carpenters do things by eye. In the past people even made spokes and wheel axles entirely by eye. Kind of like zen monks drawing a perfect circle. Why not? Practise enough and you can score penalties almost everytime.

So you gain precision but in a different way.

But practise, in this way, is a form of iteration. You have to have loads of time on your hands to muck about, experiment and make mistakes and recalibrate- all generating better awareness. Schools may yabber on about how we all learn from our mistakes but actually the preferred student is the one who never makes a mistake, who knows almost before they are taught, who gets top grades every test. A school in which experimentation was encouraged would be half full of people doing nothing and half full of what else? (I certainly would have been doing nothing).

I think precision/iteration is a very interesting way at looking at the world. In several ways the topic was well dealt with in “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”- but the idea of momentum energy perhaps not emphasised. To my mind WHY we do things has a lot to do with energy, more to do with energy than with motive. If you feel energised you look for things to do. If you feel de-energised you look for a place to rest.

If iterative practices energise us then they are more likely to succeed, in the long run.


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Reader Comments (1)

Iterated times by the sewing machine makes the eye - hand coordination of the sewn material more precise, it is energising
September 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoris

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