Unintended consequences of progress

Posted by Chris on December 12th, 2007 filed in Uncategorized

Seeing <a href=”http://swissmiss.typepad.com/weblog/2007/12/personalize-you.html” mce_href=”http://swissmiss.typepad.com/weblog/2007/12/personalize-you.html”>this</a> cup in a design blog I subscribe to kicked off a few thoughts I’d had percolating for a while now.

When I was working at the bowling alley, I naturallly dealt with a lot of league bowlers. Now: one of my thoughts is that league bowlers are amongst the worst people in the world. However, being a stagnant, very consistant group has some advantages. Studies of the group are very easy, for example.

People tend to stick to things long after there are good reasons to move on. The cup idea above reminded me of the bowlers because for years, many refused (and still refuse) to move away from glass bottles to anything else. One of the unmentioned advantages of glass bottles is the label. Or, more precisely, labels. One on the neck and one on the body of the bottle itself. When someone who has been with the same group for a long time, they tend to do two things.

A- Move their preferences towards the norm of the group. while simultaneously

B- Trying to differentiate themselves in the group.

So, one of the more common sights is someone walking back from the bar with a tray of Bud Light beer and unconsciously making a mark on the label with his thumb during the walk. Everyone on the team then gets their beer, ignoring the marked one and they then make their “mark” on their bottles. This will go on all night, with various people (usually the non-so-good-bowlers) picking up a round. The person carrying will mark, everyone else will ignore, and eventually you’ll end up with a nice big pile of beer bottles all mangled in some unique, but identifiable and repeatable way.

I have no point here, other than it’s interesting and I’d like to remember some of it for the future.

Just a few examples that are my favourites:

A line right down the middle of the neck-label.

The neck-label peeled off.

The body-label peeled off.

Letters in the name scratched out.


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