Ambivalent Skeptic

January 25, 2011

The best of… How best?

Filed under: Perspective,Philosophy — Clint1911 @ 9:33 am

This is going to be one of those “Let’s take a topic and turn it on it’s ear by looking at it with a crazy/different perspective” posts.

Often people, in their myriad pleasant discussions of mutual interest, bring up the topic of “Best.” As in what is the best this or that, or sometimes simply “What is THE best?”

That is a hard question to answer. One problem is there are so many ways to judge the value of a person, place, or thing.

I’ve narrowed it down to four different factors that contribute to the significance of an object.

Influence
Innovation
Effectiveness
Efficiency

I refer to them as IIEE, for short. (with analogizes to many engineers.)

In a “perfect” world, greatest would be easy to find because a “great” object would have all four features in equal parts. In real life, not a chance. More often, things that are Innovative never have the Influence of latter copies. (How many people have a modern mp3 player actually know Who invented the first mp3 player? Oh, and it had 32 MB of memory! You could fit a whole CD on one if you compressed the files enough.)

Then there is Effectiveness and Efficiency. Look at cars. The vehicles that can get you places fastest are not necessarily the most fuel thrifty.

Now look at your favorite… Whatever-thing.
Ask yourself honestly how it compares in EACH of Influence, Innovation, Effectiveness, and Efficiency as compared to other objects that perform the same activity.

So now the question is muddled. How do we define “The Best?” How is it “best”?

The real problem?

Whenever people discuss the idea of “Which is best….”

What they are (usually) asking is, instead, “What the is optimum… for what I want to do.”

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