Choice: Illusion or Tradeoff?

Russ White and Tom Hollingsworth went back and forth discussing whether choice is an illusion. The conversation ended up discussing network engineering, but started with the state of the cell phone market.

I think Tom and Russ make some salient points, I generally fall more in line with Tom’s way of thinking. There still is a degree of choice in the market, it’s just that it comes with a massive tradeoff in convenience for that choice.

For example, if you really wanted to, you could replicate a lot of basic smartphone functionality with a flip phone and sufficiently sophisticated IFTTT and Zapier recipes. You’d have to have a level of time and patience that is borderline unfathomable, but it’s possible.

You could buy a Tizen phone. Even though it’s low power compared to Android and iOS, with a web browser all things are possible!

Or go all out and support a project like Neo900, which literally wants to sell you new internals for the venerable Nokia N900 and runs Linux BSP.

Obviously, those choices aren’t really palatable for most consumers. But for the determined mobile adventurer, they’re definitely choices. Just expect a few sidelong glances along the way.

Tom Hollingsworth comments:

Russ White had an interesting post this week about the illusion of choices and how herd mentality is driving everything from cell phones to network engineering and design. I understand where Russ is coming from with his points, but I also think that Russ has some underlying assumptions in his article that ignore some of the complexity that we don’t always get to see in the world. Especially when it comes to the herd.


Read more at: The Complexity Of Choice

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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