Thursday, August 18, 2005

The problem is choice

ITConversations has a fantastic talk, Less is More, by Barry Schwartz, a social science professor at Swarthmore College. Also extremely funny - I laughed my ass off. The topic is fascinating: too much choice is bad, not good.

Book addict that I am, I ordered his book "The Paradox of Choice" right away, and I just finished the first chapter, which is about shopping. What strikes me most about the problem here is not so much the overabundance of choice as the sheer time and processing power required in shopping for clothes. First, you have a large array of choice from which to find a perfect fit. That accomplished (this is where the time goes) you have to figure out, will this go with anything else from my wardrobe?

Women are exceedingly good at this. They are seemingly able to memorize the entire set of clothes in their possession. And in enough detail to be able to make meaningful assertions about matching colors, etc.

As a result, I wear almost exclusively black. The few items I own that are not black are either
- colorful t-shirts (bands, graduations, slogans, apple)
- chosen by my girlfriend.

What I rue most is the lost brainpower. How in hell can anyone waste thoughts on such trivial nonsense?


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