Saturday, April 13, 2019

May You Live In Interesting Times (No. 6)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my (eventual) grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who don't yet, aka the Stickies) to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.


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                                                 Glossary  

                                  Who The Hell Is This Guy?

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars 
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse  
Iggy -- My imaginary Sticky
Dana -- My imaginary Gentlereader

"We have met the Devil of Information Overload and his impish underlings, the computer virus, the busy signal, the dead link, and the PowerPoint presentation."   -James Gleick


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

As you are no doubt aware from your careful and thorough reading of my missives the ancient Chinese curse that is also the title of this column is not actually an ancient Chinese curse.

However, these are indeed interesting times if you regard treading water in the Dizzinformation Ocean with no sign of solid ground in sight as interesting.

"Dizzinformation Syndrome: I define dizzinformation syndrome as, simply, dizzy from too much information -- correct, incorrect, or, worst of all, contradictory." -from my Glossary


Economists speak of the potential problems caused by asymmetric information. For example, in the BC era (before Carfax) when purchasing a used car a buyer was at a huge disadvantage when trying to strike a deal with a seller. 

The buyer is still at a distinct disadvantage; there are all sorts of things that might be wrong with a given car that will only be discovered after you've become the proud owner. There are no shortage of tricks and/or deceptions that can be employed by the seller to make sure you don't discover these things until after your name is on the title.  

Alternatively, the buyer in a given transaction may have an informational advantage. Suppose your beloved uncle Stanislaus died and left you his dumpy home that's located in the wrong neighborhood, but, is jam-packed with all sorts of crap stuff because uncle Stan was a collector of sorts. 

He wasn't a packrat, he only saved things he thought were either interesting, might be valuable, or both. But there's an awful lot of it and categorically speaking, it's widely varied. Of course, you could go a-googlin'... and do so much research it feels like your brain is bleeding. Then all you'd have to do is figure out the best way to sell what you think might be valuable. 

What else have you got to do, right?

[Awc'mon! what's the big deal? There are people you can hire to do that for you, I don't see what the big deal is.]

That's true, Dana. Once again all you have to do is go a-googlin' and find one. Alternatively, you can find all sorts of information about how to go about disposing of your (or uncle Stan's) crap stuff by yourself. In either case, hundreds and hundreds of relevant hits will pop up. And of course, everyone knows you can trust the Goog to impartially provide you with objective information, right?  

Ain'tcha glad you're living in the Information Age?

[Is there a point to...

Absabalutely. 

Too many sources of information are just as bad as too many products to choose from unless of course, they aren't. 

[Right!... No, wait, that doesn't make any sense. What...]

Unfortunately, it does. Fire up your screen of choice and go a-googlin' again. Experts in multiple fields agree that having a multiplicity of choices, in anything, clearly sucks. Other experts in multiple fields agree that having a multiplicity of choices, in anything, clearly, is cool. The experts who study this subject in order to advise marketing experts on how to sell us crap stuff come down firmly on both sides.


Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go. I've been considering buying a guitar. Being a newbie of limited means I obviously don't want to spend a lot of dough on something that may just turn out to be a passing impulse.

I've done my research and have my choice narrowed down to about 39 different models and I'm cautiously optimistic that in another week, two at the most, I will have selected the right guitar.

Worst-case scenario I'll put together a top ten list and resolve the question via a series of coin flips while praying to the patron saint of crap stuff (St. Accumulatious) that I'm not subsequently afflicted with a severe case of buyer's remorse. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day. 
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©2019 Mark Mehlmauer As long as you agree to supply my name and URL and only minimally edit my content (scroll all the way up or down for Creative Commons License) you may republish this anywhere you please.

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