Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quality and Lures

I understand now the lure of producing things other than for yourself, the drive of making a little more money.

It starts innocently enough: you start making something for yourself, and you find you're successful at it. The next thing you know, you are starting to make it (or other things just like it) for others.

Life is good. Money is rolling in, things are growing, life is splendid.

But then something happens. A problem emerges. If something is done, it will interrupt the cash flow, be embarrassing. The pressure - if not from you, then from those around you - is to figure out a way to justify things. After all, it's not a serious problem, or it doesn't rise to the level of a real problem, or it you can find ways to verify the problem doesn't impact anything. And besides, the people you're making it for will never really know.

Before you are aware, you've gone farther down this road than you intended. Another problem comes up, and then another. Always though the pressure is to make things work, to figure out a way around or through. After all, it will create issues for income.

To some extent one could say (with some justification) that this mentality is just another fallout of the industrial age. In the pre-industrial age one often made things for one's friends and neighbors, and if the product wasn't good, they'd surely be around to tell you about it. But now there are multiple layers between manufacturer and the customer. Any issues will more than likely never be brought to light -and if they do, your customers do they same to you (undoubtedly), so it's really just status quo.

But in an age that argues for quality, that has individuals and societies that are organized around quality, that suffers from a lack of quality, isn't it a bit remarkable that we are now attempting to enforce something that used to be internalized but is now imposed from outside?

Not everyone is a victim of this, of course: there are corporations that practice high quality and individuals that don't practice it at all.

But the lure of money is a powerful one, whether imposed on ourselves or from individuals outside of us. It is often left to us to navigate the rapids with what we have, hoping against hope that the river will slow down and we can get ourselves to the shore.

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