The paradox of cost and value 2021-02-08 01:55:08

The idea of a handmade Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance, lego piece, or computer hardware component is as absurd as it sounds.

The reason being is that for goods and services like AWS, legos, and computer hardware, the means of production bear very little implication on how the consumer values them — a good and fair price is usually how the perception of value is achieved in these cases.

On the other hand, consider original paintings, handwritten letters, and Zappos’ widely celebrated 10-hour, 43-minute customer support call — all things which are prized in some sense because of how high their production cost is.

The reason why economies of scale and slow, high-cost work both matter— why we simultaneously prize e-mail that gets sent in milliseconds & handwritten letters that take days to receive — is because they both signal value in very different and important ways.

When aiming to create something exceptionally valuable for the people you aim to serve, an important consideration is whether the widget itself is what matters, or if the effort around producing, sharing, and supporting the work matters. In many cases it’s both.

William Liao

The stuff that didn’t work What is the work for?
Absolute thinking like handmade is better or nature should be kept natural leads to people being unable to grasp this paradox.

In Switzerland there's a beautiful synergy of technology and nature in the alps. They technologize/automate things that are utilities really well while keeping the beauty of nature tamed in a way where its safe to humans.

My girlfriend tells me of artisan workshops in Japan that are doing a great job of balancing which parts of the craft to keep handmade and which parts to automate. There are certain parts that keeping handmade just doesn't make sense.

This paradox is also huge in software. And not being able to correctly audit which parts ought to be utility and which parts human-facing is the difference between expensive useless software and useful ones regardless of cost.
2021-02-08 14:43:17
Curious about these Japanese artisan workshops; I'm continually fascinated by Japanese design & manufacturing and tend to agree that the balance they strike w.r.t. how things are built - hand made vs. machine made - signals a clear understanding of the flexible, context-dependent notion of value. 

What are some examples you've seen in software of this paradox??
2021-02-09 14:40:18
I hope you get to meet my gf one day. She's the one who's obsessed with Japan's artisanship culture. My interest and knowledge is SECOND hand to the max. As in her understanding is far greater than mine.

But it's very similar to what you were speaking about. A bespoke AWS instance is absurd. Why? Because it's a utility that is used to... wow just came up with a post idea for this. stay tuned
2021-02-10 13:48:29
I'd love to when it's safer to do so! 

Staying tuned and looking forward to the post!
2021-02-10 14:12:10