walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Complaining about _Small Bets_ Ignoring the Obvious

From _Small Bets_, location 1198 or so:

"As any user of Adobe, Apple's iTunes, or Microsoft Office knows, new software releases occur far more frequently than in the past."

I know it's super hard, but try to ignore the non-parallelism in the list.


"That's in part because once a new feature is released the company can learn how well it's solving user problems or needs."

This is an extremely weird sentence.

(1) Companies _can_ now do small, frequent releases because computers are faster and have more capacity and networks are more extensive and blah, blah, bleeping, blah. Better release technology (that was developed for reasons other than to do releases).

(2) Once companies could do small, frequent releases, somebody did, and it turned out that customers kind of liked that, and companies that did that got better at that and customers liked that, too.

(3) And once some companies were doing small, frequent, popular releases, pretty much everyone else with a competitor doing small releases (or with customers accustomed to small releases) was under pressure to do the same.

I don't think _any_ of these companies were doing it because they wanted to see how customers reacted (altho I could be wrong). The best customer reaction to an update is (a) no response and (b) reduced complaints about whatever it was you fixed. The main reason companies do updates is to get result (b).

I thought at first that maybe I'm just real cynical because I have a powerful tendency to go for the 80/20 solution, rather than to make something really good. And then I thought about all those app updates I've done, and the explanations that show up on the update screen.

I think Peter Sims has assigned such a blanket positive value to "creativity" and "small bets" and "prototyping" and so forth that he's lost track of the more reality based aspects like "constraints based thinking". He knows about constraints and describes Gehry (really? This is your example for constraints? All right.) using them, but I don't think he's internalized constraints based thinking in any kind of comprehensive way.


I went down a small hole into Wonderland when Sims used a really disturbing quote from Mohammed Yunus (when you compare a woman's perspective to a "worm's eye view", and the way you get her to come out of the house and talk to you -- a man -- when none of the men are around is to pick up one of her kids until they scream and run away, I'm going to start being really, really suspicious of you and your ideas. Even if you _have_ been charming on the Daily Show and otherwise are an icon.) and I felt compelled to investigate. After a minor distraction involving Tom Heinemann's controversial documentary on Grameen Bank and Yunus, I stumbled across this:


Look. It was in _Groningen_. Of course I was going to slog through the whole thing. If I'm not mistaken, Roodman works for WorldWatch (so I'm more or less required to at least pay attention to what he is saying), but Bateman had really great responses -- and the reviews of Lamia Karim's book on Amazon are awesome. If only _any_ of the books on microfinance written by the three of them were available on the kindle, I would have bought them already.

Maybe later.


"Ironically, despite being one of the most knowledgeable people in his field, Tim [Russert] was constantly open to new information and ideas from an extremely diverse network of people."

From around location 1618. Ignoring the poor quality of the evidence supplied that Russert interacted with an extremely diverse network of people, I'm reasonably certain that "ironically" is used wildly inappropriately here. It's not "wryly amusing". And I'm not sure how Sims _thinks_ people get to be knowledgeable, but in my experience, it's generally by being open to new information and ideas. People who are _not_ open to new information and ideas generally don't become knowledgeable.

If the irony has to do with some other aspect of Russert's character, then the sentence is poorly structured.

I'm not pointing out every example of this sort. Just a few of them. I _really_ want to like this book, because I actually don't disagree with his thesis. But the support and evidence rallied in defense of the thesis is so bad I'm starting to have doubts.
Tags: not-a-book-review
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