18 August 2005

Having too many choices is not so bad

Sometimes having just one standard makes life so much easier, one size scale for jeans, one DVD format, one system of messurament, and for goodness sakes, one instant messenging service. It is there, it gets the job done, there is no searching- now doesn't that sound easy?!

Oh my dear readers, it is not so. Life with choice is always better than life without. Choices allow us to support what we desire and complain against what we do not by our mere patronage. And in this case your complaints actually are felt in the suppliers bottom line - a great impetus for change. But we are still left with this difficulty in getting these systems to mesh. How can you stay connected with your friends and family when you have 3 e-mail accounts to check, 3 instant messenging services to log onto, and a work and personal cellphone?

The answer is what I call Multiple Open Source Access Information Consentrated Systems (MOSAICS). In many cases, we already have them. The little plaque at the department store with size comparisons from brand-to-brand, multi-format DVD drives, and trillian for instant messenging.

One problem is that these systems allow people to turn many choices back into one big choice and we start losing the patronage system where the best services wins out. Second-class services will survive longer because they don't "cost" us so much to keep them, but even so their effect is diminished. So long as the MOSAICS can adopt the features of the best services then this shouldn't be a problem at all.

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