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Credit Where Credit's Due

Entry 1965, on 2019-02-17 at 21:23:10 (Rating 3, Comments)

As you, my good readers, will know, I am a computer geek who is particularly active on the internet. This activity includes this blog, my podcasts, a substantial dedication to debate on social media, and my web site.

Most people would be happy to host their site on a commercial provider, but I do everything myself and host my site, podcasts, blog, etc on a Mac Pro in my basement. And as a web server administrator, the total up-time my site has is of great importance to me. Until recently that time had been close to 100% but my record was spoiled by about 24 hours down-time I had a couple of days back.

I discovered my site was down when it didn't respond when I visited it from work. As I arrived home the reason for the outage became rather obvious: a fibre-optic cable was lying on the ground across my drive instead of being attached to a pole like it was supposed to be! I reported the fault to my ISP and they said it would be 24 to 72 hours before it was repaired. This was a Thursday, so I assumed it would be Tuesday the week after before the repair was done (72 hours, minus the weekend) so I was pleasantly surprised then the repair was started less than 24 hours after I reported it, and completed about 2 hours later.

So, although I have been critical of some of what the company involved, Chorus, has done in the past, I have to give them credit for good work in this case.

In fact, I try to do that whenever possible. I really try to avoid being automatically critical of everything certain people or organisations do, just because they are my "natural enemy". This is particularly important in politics. While I vote for more left-oriented parties I recognise good ideas from conservative and libertarian parties too, and I would like a political system where I could vote for ideas instead of parties. On the other hand, the vast majority of people do vote in that more simplistic way (for a party) so I guess a different system would only suit the more open-minded people like me who are more interested in ideas.

By the way, I am just imagining the smug, self-righteous laughter from some of the people I debate with when I say I am open-minded, but I really am. Here's how I know: half the people who oppose me are on the right and think I am too much of a lefty, and the other half are on the left and think I'm some sort of Trump-supporting conservative! By the way, I'm not a Trump supporter, but I'm not a Trump basher either, because I don't think everything he does is wrong.

I guess this gets back to the idea of tribalism I wrote about a while back. People who belong to a tribe - even when they fail to accept that's what they are doing - are doomed to support that tribe through good and bad, and to criticise their enemy even when they shouldn't. And if you think about it, it's pretty stupid saying everything your opposition says or does is bad, and everything your allies do is good. No individual or group has a perfect record either way.

And here's another point which arises from what I just said: if a person who does look at individual ideas instead of tribes can't say anything good about a person or group then that really is a true criticism. And if a tribal person criticises an opponent, all they are doing is acting in a tribal way, and the criticism is essentially meaningless.

So if someone like myself can't find many good things to say about an opponent then that really does mean something. It doesn't mean I'm just following the standard rhetoric of my tribe and refusing to admit an opponent is sometimes right, it really means I genuinely think the person is rarely, or never right.

So when I complimented Chorus on their good work that should be a lot more meaningful because I don't just offer positive feedback for no good reason, especially to a company which sometimes operates in ways I disagree with. And when I criticise a company which is generally thought of as being one I usually admire, like Apple, that is also a good thing, because I'm pointing out a genuine deficiency.

And just to reinforce my main point: the fact that I complimented Chorus when they do something good means that my usual criticisms mean more. For example: why was the fibre strung across the street instead of being safely underground anyway? Was it because Chorus was too cheap to do the fibre install properly? That criticism is genuine because if they had done it properly I would have complimented them instead.

And conversely, my occasional criticism of Apple means my usual positive attitude is more meaningful too. For example: the synchronisation I get between my devices using iCloud is so much better than every other service I use that Apple deserve some praise for finally getting their cloud services right. But that won't stop me criticising them in situations like when they refuse to do a free repair on an expensive product which failed when it shouldn't have, because if they want to sell premium priced products then they should provide premium service too.

So in summary, it would be better for all parties involved if everyone gave credit where it was due, and criticism where it was due. That way the recipients of the good or bad feedback would know it was meaningful, instead of just something which happened because of some more generic disagreement, and for the same reason the person giving the feedback would be taken more seriously too.


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