June 12, 2008




Recently, I came across this post






What’s Ong Sor Fern’s problem?



To be really honest with you I do agree somewhat with what she’s said, there is after a lot of shit out there in greater blogoland. But again its one those, I do and I don’t cases.



Why am I so indecisive? Simple – this clash of heads isn’t about Newspapers vs Blogosphere as much as it is a battle royale between Quality vs Quantity.



It would seem the issue is quite straight forward; quality should win the day, but where it really gets complicated is when one considers the merit of quantity and how that in itself is a form of quality. Consider this: would you rather have one good manager or three lousy administrators? One well disciplined regiment or 5 lousy regiments? The question even applies to relationships; would you rather commit to one super duper girl who will follow you like a trusted Alsatian like Rin-Tin-Tin who is as game as the hardiest Casio G-Shock? Or would you rather have a black book full “Si Wen” dowanlah’s types who wouldn’t even go anywhere if isn’t air-conditioned?



Most of us would probably say plumbing to choose for quality against quantity pays dividends – right?



Wrong, like I said that’s only true if you believe quantity doesn’t offer anything close to quality and the latter doesn’t come with loads of penalties.



There are times when even Bata squares off quite evenly with Bally and this occurred when the rambling librarian took issue with what the reporter wrote, that’s to say if we put the issues on the scales of common sense, both more of less evens out i.e Quality is not always the winner and there is an undeniable Quality to the Quantity factor.


Now you don’t have to read the book that Miss Ong reviewed basically its one of those doomsday genres like its going to rain aeroplanes at the turn of 2000. Or we are all going to be consumed by rivers of fire sometime in the future, if we don’t learn to ride a bike. The author disparages the whole idea of the internet equating it to even perdition ending with bang; if the lies and half truths in the net are left unchecked we may all even end up studying shadows in some primordial cave – in fortune cookie lingo; blogging or reading anything in the internet just dumbs all of us down.



As I mentioned earlier, if you strip the debate right down to it’s chassis, its another: Quality vs Quantity square off – only in this case, the context refers to dubious material published in the internet versus kosher material generated by ‘professionals’ like reporters in the MSM – so the equation that best expresses the divide, clash or war is as follows:



(A) Would you rather read one good article and pay X for it –



(B) Peruse through 10 free dubious article and one more that even tells you Pavarotti is still singing somewhere in Mars because he has been abducted by aliens?



Most people will say (A) and they wouldn’t even think twice about it within a span of perhaps 2 seconds max. Well they’re wrong. That can only be true if we assume (B) has a comparative lower value than (A).



Contrary to popular belief Quantity does have a value even if it short on the Quality quotient – as the Nazi’s found out to their detriment when they invaded Russia in 1941, they had the best tanks in the world while the Russians were still struggling to keep their steering wheels from regularly coming loose. But the equation between Quality VS Quantity panned out quite well in this clash and they pretty much myth bust some of the bullshit concerning Quality is King: fact – for every German Tiger tank built, with the same given resources, the Russians could produce 12.4 lousy tanks.



The decider which is better? Then turns on the outcome when one excellent tank faces off against twelve lousy tanks – who wins this gunfight?



In this war of attrition that once transpired. The actual figures are as follows: 7.52 lousy Soviet tanks takes out one well engineered German tank. Let’s just skip the whole science of attrition here because that’s not important. Besides that’s a mother of a subject that will just take this discussion to cheemland. The gist is this, at the end of the day: Quantity with even significantly Quality deficits / penalties can deliver a competitive advantage that even overrides the Quality factor to emerge as the decisive winner.



Besides quality is hardly a settled matter. Who is the recipient of that ‘quality?’ Is it designed to appeal to a select few to mythologize the up keep of their hegemony? See what I mean? Let’s leave that aside for the time being. So with this new knowledge, formulation, equation or whatever you want to call it: it’s a veritable fact – designing with the principle of Quality in mind doesn’t necessarily produce reliable and repeatable results to create competitive advantage.



There is a missing link in this equation and its best expressed in the following lay terms: it really depends what you are applying it too.



That simply means we need to re-phrase the question: and ask ourselves what value (B) brings to the table in comparative terms to (A) under a given set of conditions. Well firstly, I can say (B) was written by ten separate individuals each of which granted has X experiential knowledge which is pretty lousy (I will just give you discount there la, don’t mind the odd P hd rocket scientist who blogs), but if you combine it all together, they pack a pretty respectable wallop even if we take in the odd compulsive liar, psycho and serial killer. (A) given is a professional reporter, but she (it’s always a she in Singapore if you notice) can’t possibly have such a wide field of knowledge unless she has as many eyes as a pineapple or happens to be 300 years old. Besides A’s field of knowledge is hardly unique, saying reporters see the world clearer than anyone else is like proclaiming you are an archeologist just because you happen to live in a cave.



Having said that Quantity certainly packs a punch, the same applies to Quality. There is certainly a role reversal in this equation. Quality can just as well run circles around Quantity as the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC demonstrated – how the Greeks were able to stave off the Persians for three days in one of history’s most famous last stands despite being astronomically outnumbered.  



So we are back to square one again?



Not really because what both the author of the book and the reporter failed to mention was most important decider that determines the outcome between the Quantity vs Quality debate – it isn’t even the Quality vs Quantity debate about information, that can only be true if you believe Pravda prints the truth and nothing but the truth and North Korean is Disneyland.


Truth of the matter is simply this. If we are going to sharpen the equation in the Quality vs Quantity debate to really get a handle on whether the information age is perdition or salvation. We need to appreciate one reality, the information age did not spawn the age of mass disinformation; it was already there all along when the first ape learnt the trick of hiding his bone femur behind his back when he first dueled with another ape.



I don’t doubt the rate of disinformation has been accelerated by the advent of the digital age, but speed, variety and accessibility cannot be the sole decider of whether the internet is perdition or salvation. For one it’s hardly even a new concept, when you consider each successive generation has had to balance the progress against the old stretching all the way back to the age of coal, diesel, petrol, electric, nuclear powered and currently magnetic levitated trains that can run in excess of 450 kmh!



Besides the debate of Quality vs Quantity fails big time because, it doesn’t factor in stoc the collective wisdom of readers such as you and me or the guy in the next cubicle reading this – this is a very difficult term to define in words but in math it’s simple – it just means, if there are 50 people in a crowd trying to guess the hidden price of TV, if you take the median price, they would probably be spot on!



In simple math, it means, when the shit content gets higher and it doesn’t really whether it is churned out by a 14th wood cut press or something as space age and high tech as the internet so does our capacity to filter the bull shit factor. In economic terms, it’s called the law of equilibrium and this applies to everything including how you and I typically process information – if the bullshit content goes up, the shit snooper just gets more sensitive and the process of winnowing the truth from lies becomes more efficient.



How the HEPA filter in our brain kicks in isn’t important, that’s the mechanics – we could for example cross reference the information with primary data or conduct a protocol of verification but what’s important here in this discussion is this: do it we will! And it doesn’t matter it’s something that’s read here or in the even the Holy Bible – readers will always find that happy balance between truth and medium irrespective of factors such as speed, variety and accessibility.


The converse of relying on just one avenue of information just spells trouble and it doesn’t really matter how “reliable,” the source appears to be – it could even be an official report compiled by the UN security council that once fingered Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction when it didn’t. Or a committee of experts who set about the whole idea of proposing change in the name of a better tomorrow.


The dangers of relying on ONLY one information assembly line brings with it the possibility of marginalizing the crowd, blotting out the counter narrative and what are we really left with?


A blinkered view instead of being all encompassing sweep – hierarchical instead holistic – divided instead of being representative – imitative instead of unique.


That’s certainly something to consider very seriously in this brave new age of ours where the internet can so easily slip and fall into either the perdition or salvation bracket – or maybe that’s just another one of my insane statements like “I have never, nor will I ever, read blogs.”


Darkness 2007



[This has been brought to you by Aurora by the kind patronage of the Lady of the Lake / written by Darkness, Harphoon & Aurora / Socio-political / Economics / History / Mathematics / The Brotherhood Press 2007/ 9836636371 ES The Brotherhood Press 2007] – This article was posted in WOS (What Others Said) A site which has since closed down managed by ‘Sitis.’ On 8-9-07 @ 3.00 (Local) / materials used for writing this article were researched by the ASDF, the Strategic Think Tank of the Brotherhood. This is an auto-crawler powered by a N-95 program specifically developed by the Interspacing Federation for the newly created Free Internet Library Board based in Primus Aldentes Prime – serialization: 9936734-00327-882/JOACHIM – Retrieval Date: 2032]


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