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Re: [XP] Tyranny of Flexible Scope?

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  • Jason Yip
    Hi Alistair, I think the distinction is that no choice is bad, some choice is good, but too much choice becomes bad again. If all I have to choose from is
    Message 1 of 12 , Jan 1, 2005
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      Hi Alistair,

      I think the distinction is that no choice is bad, some choice is good,
      but too much choice becomes bad again.

      If all I have to choose from is unnamed green things, I can blame the
      East German government. External factor.

      If I get to choose from 10 different versions of chopped broccoli,
      that might also be available at different prices at 10 different
      stores... Well, if the selected broccoli ends up tasting like
      cardboard and I also learn that I could have gotten it for half price
      at another store, I might just blame myself. Internal factor.

      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, acockburn@a... wrote:
      >
      >
      > This is fascinating... In 1985 my wife Deanna and I visited East
      Berlin.
      > After visiting a supermarket, where we saw many clear plastic bags
      of frozen
      > identical but unnamed green things as constituting the frozen
      vegetable section,
      > we walked outside and found, on the corner of the building, a sign
      behind a
      > glass case, reading, "Wer hat die Wahl, hat auch die Qual."
      Translated: Who
      > has a choice, has also the torment/agony. (In German there is a
      phrase, "Die
      > Quahl der Wal" meaning, the agony/torment/torture of choice) .
      >
      > It seemed at the time a piece of propaganda reminding people they
      really
      > didn't want to be tortured by having to make choices (eg, between
      various green
      > frozen things).
      >
      > And yet I don't know many people who'd switch places.... It does
      make me
      > wonder about his research.... Alistair
    • Paul McKerley
      ... good, ... the ... price ... Hi Jason: I can think of a couple considerations: as long as the choices aren t fatal, then the bad feeling resulting from a
      Message 2 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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        > I think the distinction is that no choice is bad, some choice is
        good,
        > but too much choice becomes bad again.
        >
        > If all I have to choose from is unnamed green things, I can blame
        the
        > East German government. External factor.
        >
        > If I get to choose from 10 different versions of chopped broccoli,
        > that might also be available at different prices at 10 different
        > stores... Well, if the selected broccoli ends up tasting like
        > cardboard and I also learn that I could have gotten it for half
        price
        > at another store, I might just blame myself. Internal factor.
        >

        Hi Jason:

        I can think of a couple considerations: as long as the choices aren't
        fatal, then the bad feeling resulting from a bad choice is part of the
        learning process. If you choose the wrong frozen broccoli in a market
        society, you can choose another variety the next day. Keep trying and
        eventually you'll feel good. In East Germany the bad feelings were
        eternal.

        The other consideration is that in many cases decisions still need to
        be made--the question is, who shall make them? In market societies the
        ideal is that the person most affected by a decision is the one who
        makes it and is responsible for the outcome. In planned economies the
        person making the decision bears none of the consequences. For
        example, it's likely that the senior East German bureaucrats
        responsible for vegetable production and distribution enjoyed a
        variety fresh fruits and vegetables every day, regardless of the fact
        that their decisions deprived most of their countrymen of the same.

        I'm just new to XP (just finished Extreme Programming
        Explained over Christmas) so I'm no expert on the practices or
        principles, but it seems to me that there are analogies here to
        XP--one of the values is that people are responsible for their
        decisions, good or bad.

        Paul
      • William Wake
        ... But the thesis is that it isn t true. Broccoli may not be the best demonstration of this. Think more like the computer market - suppose you really need a
        Message 3 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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          On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 15:15:49 -0000, Paul McKerley <mckerley@...> wrote:
          > I can think of a couple considerations: as long as the choices aren't
          > fatal, then the bad feeling resulting from a bad choice is part of the
          > learning process. If you choose the wrong frozen broccoli in a market
          > society, you can choose another variety the next day. Keep trying and
          > eventually you'll feel good.

          But the thesis is that it isn't true. Broccoli may not be the best
          demonstration of this. Think more like the computer market - suppose
          you really need a new computer and agonize over the choices. Then next
          month feature xyz comes out and you have this feeling like you're
          missing something. (The article that started this identified two sort
          of psychological poles, depending whether you felt this regret or
          not.)

          Don't forget there's a cost to all the choice too. By the time I've
          tried all the 10 current choices, there are a couple more out there.
          And don't forget the 7 kinds of okra, etc. I'm paying effort to keep
          track of all these differences, but they don't really add up to all
          that much. (I'm sure it was easier to shop for cars in Henry Ford's
          day - I'll take one model T, black; cars are certainly better now, but
          buying a new car is more work too:)

          My sister lived in Thailand for a couple years; she had a huge
          adjustment coming back to the states and feeling overwhelmed just
          looking at all the cereal choices in the grocery store.

          > The other consideration is that in many cases decisions still need to
          > be made--the question is, who shall make them? In market societies the
          > ideal is that the person most affected by a decision is the one who
          > makes it and is responsible for the outcome.

          That's the problem too, isn't it? Each supplier wants you to make one
          more decision. This creates an explosion of choices. And like most
          everybody else, I'm out there trying to create more choices for people
          too.

          --
          Bill Wake William.Wake@... www.xp123.com
        • Ron Jeffries
          ... I guess this is a deep question. Yet, to me, it s not. I don t like not having choices. I don t like people telling me what I can have and can t have, what
          Message 4 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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            On Sunday, January 2, 2005, at 1:32:48 PM, William Wake wrote:

            >> The other consideration is that in many cases decisions still need to
            >> be made--the question is, who shall make them? In market societies the
            >> ideal is that the person most affected by a decision is the one who
            >> makes it and is responsible for the outcome.

            > That's the problem too, isn't it? Each supplier wants you to make one
            > more decision. This creates an explosion of choices. And like most
            > everybody else, I'm out there trying to create more choices for people
            > too.

            I guess this is a deep question. Yet, to me, it's not. I don't like
            not having choices. I don't like people telling me what I can have
            and can't have, what I must do and what I may not do.

            Now that may seem odd, coming from a guy whose whole position on XP
            is "Do this, and someday you'll understand why." But it's actually
            quite consistent.

            I don't want anyone forced to do the practices of XP, or anything
            else. I want them to /choose/ to do the practices, to /choose/ to
            learn whatever they teach.

            When I go to taiji class, I don't expect to tell the instructor how
            to teach me. If he teaches me in a way that I don't like, I'll get
            another instructor. And I'll even tell him "when you did this, this
            happened to me, but when you did that ...". But when it comes down
            to it, in this class that I chose, he's the master ... not in the
            sense of I'm the slave, but in the sense of I'm the student. His job
            is to tell me what to do next, choosing in such a way as to cause me
            to learn something.

            I choose to learn, by trying things. I then learn to choose among a
            wider range of choices and, among them, to choose better.

            I choose choice.

            Ron Jeffries
            www.XProgramming.com
            It is better to have less thunder in the mouth
            and more lightning in the hand. -- Apache proverb
          • Bernard Choi
            ... Not to mention that the person making the choice may not be the one most qualified ? My son may be most affected by my choice of Broccoli or Chocolate for
            Message 5 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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              >>The other consideration is that in many cases decisions still need to
              >>be made--the question is, who shall make them? In market societies the
              >>ideal is that the person most affected by a decision is the one who
              >>makes it and is responsible for the outcome.
              >>
              >>
              >
              >That's the problem too, isn't it? Each supplier wants you to make one
              >more decision. This creates an explosion of choices. And like most
              >everybody else, I'm out there trying to create more choices for people
              >too.
              >
              >
              Not to mention that the person making the choice may not be the one most
              qualified ? My son may be most affected by my choice of Broccoli or
              Chocolate for dinner, but I still make the call.
            • Ron Jeffries
              ... If your son is 6, that s one thing. If he s 36, that s quite another. Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com You are to act in the light of experience as guided
              Message 6 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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                On Sunday, January 2, 2005, at 1:59:08 PM, Bernard Choi wrote:

                >>That's the problem too, isn't it? Each supplier wants you to make one
                >>more decision. This creates an explosion of choices. And like most
                >>everybody else, I'm out there trying to create more choices for people
                >>too.
                >>
                >>
                > Not to mention that the person making the choice may not be the one most
                > qualified ? My son may be most affected by my choice of Broccoli or
                > Chocolate for dinner, but I still make the call.

                If your son is 6, that's one thing. If he's 36, that's quite
                another.

                Ron Jeffries
                www.XProgramming.com
                You are to act in the light of experience as guided by intelligence.
                -- Nero Wolfe
              • William Wake
                On Sun, 2 Jan 2005 13:48:24 -0500, Ron Jeffries ... I relate to that too. But I can certainly believe there can be too many choices. (Or worse, too many
                Message 7 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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                  On Sun, 2 Jan 2005 13:48:24 -0500, Ron Jeffries
                  <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > On Sunday, January 2, 2005, at 1:32:48 PM, William Wake wrote:
                  > I don't like
                  > not having choices. I don't like people telling me what I can have
                  > and can't have, what I must do and what I may not do.

                  I relate to that too. But I can certainly believe there can be too
                  many choices. (Or worse, too many choices without a 'real'
                  difference.) The SciAm article's claim was, "yes, you can have too
                  many choices, and some people are there now."

                  I remember the ads for toys, "limited only by your own imagination." I
                  always thought, "Ooh - too bad." :)

                  --
                  Bill Wake William.Wake@... www.xp123.com
                • Kay Pentecost
                  Hi, Everybody, Interesting thing about having a lot of choices. It seems to me that we always want more choices for ourselves... we can deal with the
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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                    Hi, Everybody,

                    Interesting thing about having a lot of choices.

                    It seems to me that we always want more choices for ourselves... we can deal
                    with the consequences of making a bad decision if we still have the choice
                    to correct it.

                    And yet, many of us want to limit the choices other people have.

                    For example, we create a software program that locks people into doing a
                    task a particular way. Or we modify an operating system command... say
                    aliasing "ls" as "ls -l" because we think the user won't want to/be able to?
                    learn the "right" way.

                    Do we project our fears onto others? I wonder if we think, yeah, I can deal
                    with lots of choices, but he/she/it will be confused?

                    Kay
                  • Jason Yip
                    ... wrote: ... So my concern is that we re out there trying to create more choice for people without being aware of and preparing them for
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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                      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, William Wake
                      <william.wake@g...> wrote:

                      ...
                      > That's the problem too, isn't it? Each supplier wants you to make one
                      > more decision. This creates an explosion of choices. And like most
                      > everybody else, I'm out there trying to create more choices for people
                      > too.

                      So my concern is that we're out there trying to create more choice for
                      people without being aware of and preparing them for the potential
                      negative psychological impact of additional choice.
                    • Larry Brunelle
                      Great comments, stimulating my own . . . ... It does depend about what is the choice. Most of us probably are very happy with the performance of our autonomic
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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                        Great comments, stimulating my own . . .

                        Kay Pentecost wrote:
                        > Hi, Everybody,
                        >
                        > Interesting thing about having a lot of choices.
                        >
                        > It seems to me that we always want more choices for ourselves...

                        It does depend about what is the choice. Most of us probably
                        are very happy with the performance of our autonomic nervous
                        systems. Pilots like autopilots. Automation is the very
                        antithesis of choice, in the small - yet it frees the user
                        to consider other choices at the preferred level of abstraction.

                        > we can deal with the consequences of making a bad decision if we still
                        > have the choice to correct it.

                        I can't say this is always true for me. My life is only
                        so long and I don't always want to backtrack and revise.
                        All things considered, I'd usually rather make the correct
                        decision in the first place if I could. I certainly like
                        the ability to recover when I have made a fool of myself,
                        but very many times the most efficient (and effective)
                        course is simply to learn from it and plow ahead.

                        > And yet, many of us want to limit the choices other people have.

                        Appropriate, again, in context. I think it is appropriate that
                        people not have the choice of driving on the left (in the US,
                        or on the right in Britain). I think it is appropriate that
                        people have the choice of OS for their respective personal
                        computers, but perhaps not for employer machines where that
                        would impose maintenance issues.

                        > For example, we create a software program that locks people into
                        > doing a task a particular way. Or we modify an operating system
                        > command... say aliasing "ls" as "ls -l" because we think the user
                        > won't want to/be able to? learn the "right" way.

                        Isn't this a role issue? If the role one has is to produce
                        something that behaves in a guaranteed and predictable way,
                        probably one wil restrict the choices others may have. Also,
                        suppose you automate a workflow, and further suppose you have
                        actually studied closely the behaviors of those staff most
                        effective in that workflow to determine the path of fewest
                        errors and least effort. Suppose your automation enforces or
                        at least favors that path so that other staff are led to work
                        in the same effective way. Is that wrong?

                        OTOH, if the role of the staff is to be making decisions of
                        a certain nature, the software should not be restricting or
                        leading those decisions.

                        > Do we project our fears onto others? I wonder if we think, yeah, I
                        > can deal with lots of choices, but he/she/it will be confused?

                        Again, I think there is a role issue. It seems to me that one
                        principle of user interfaces is not to give users choices that
                        don't add value. If you can do something in a standard way,
                        and it works well for all concerned, why offer a choice?
                        I myself don't usually mind choices made for me if they are
                        made intelligently to work for me and actually do work for me.
                        I don't think I'd benefit, for instance, by having the choice
                        of controlling my car with reins instead of a steering wheel.

                        So it seems to me that some choices fall naturally into the
                        role of the designer rather than the user. And the designer
                        has the responsibility to make them correctly to serve the
                        user. (Sort of like our representative governments, and
                        wouldn't we all wish they would observe the principle!)

                        One kinda free-floating point:
                        We often don't use what choice we have about how much choice
                        we employ. Consider the micro-managing manager: this
                        person could CHOOSE to delegate sets of choices to others and
                        presumably concentrate efforts on choices more appropriate and
                        beneficial to the organization. And, in some cases, to
                        recognize the unstated choices - the creative "write-ins" that
                        could potentiate staff's present abilities or leverage existing
                        products or processes, etc.
                      • Paul McKerley
                        ... Very true--but even now people demand more choice. There s a booming after-market adding vinyl roofs to brand new Chrysler 300s (which the manufacturer
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jan 2, 2005
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                          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, William Wake
                          <william.wake@g...> wrote:
                          > (I'm sure it was easier to shop for cars in Henry Ford's
                          > day - I'll take one model T, black; cars are certainly better now, but
                          > buying a new car is more work too:)
                          >

                          Very true--but even now people demand more choice. There's a booming
                          after-market adding vinyl roofs to brand new Chrysler 300s (which the
                          manufacturer won't install.) Go figure.

                          Paul
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