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Zer Netmouse
April 7th, 2006
07:38 am


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helpful Aphorisms for the terminally busy
The other day matt_arnold came to a SFOHA meeting (Look Ma! I updated the website!) and after a discussion of audio file types and recording straight to MP3 vs capturing a less lossy .wav or tape recording first, he commented to me that Mp3 may be a bit lossy in comparison, but an MP3 up on the web where thousands can see it is better than a recording on tape in an archive somewhere any day. And he suggested this rule:

Perfect is the enemy of Good

I mentioned this suggested aphorism to my father, who is a design engineer, and he responded with a slightly less absolute one they use in his shop:

Better is the enemy of Good Enough

These all remind me of the saying that floated around the shop when I was doing technical theater for the summer reperatory program at the University of Findlay (often said to me, then a Physics major, following the phrase "This ain't rocket science"):

Done is Good

So I offer them to you, and myself, as a reminder not to be so worried about getting something right that you don't get it done at all.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
I learned it as "The best is the enemy of the good".
Date:April 7th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)
Same here. But I was debating whether I would be breaking the aphorism by posting that. ;-)
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2006 03:55 pm (UTC)
It's a useful concept to remember, but I don't find it an "ultimate truth" of the sort that I carefully avoid challenging.

("Done is good" reminds me of Bishop Berkeley -- existence is a form of perfection. Which is stupid in his argument for the existence of God, but still useful.)
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
Regarding writing projects, I have long said: "It's not done when it's finished; it's done when it's due."

[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)
Interesting, this very thing came up last night at tai chi, while I was training punches, and very frustrated with each one, not feeling like I was getting it at all. I was reminded that none of the first 10,000 will be perfect, so just get through the first 10,000. ;)
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
At risk of being a contrarian, I offer:

Done is good, but make allowances for "good" turning out to be "not quite good enough." Do you need to start over from scratch, or will it suffice to backtrack a step?

Conversely, recognise when starting over from scratch is really the best solution. Focus on the end result, not on salvaging existing work.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
The whole thing is subjective. In some cases, that doesn't matter: good enough for me is good enough for me. I think that the saying refers, most of the time, to interaction with others. What's good enough for me may not be so for another and vice versa.

Don't keep working at detail long past the point of diminishing returns but don't let this precept let you stop when the result isn't satisfactory to all parties concerned. Unless...
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