Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Honk if you're human!

I read a great short piece in Wired this month by Josh McHugh based on Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us).

The book basically argues that our traffic problems are a microcosm of the inefficiencies that rule our behavior. He suggests that, for example, data packets have little difficulty maneuvering their complex highway. Why? Because they operate out of interest for the entire system. In Vanderbilt's words, "The fundamental problem is that you've got drivers who make user-optimal rather than system-optimal decisions."

Of special interest, he says the drivers who speed down the merging lane and duck in at the last second are actually helping the overall efficiency of traffic. So next time someone cuts you off from the merging lane, give them a smile and a thumbs-up instead of the finger.

This thought made me consider the little inefficiencies that can keep me short of my best.

What do you think of Vanderbilt's metaphor?

Photo Gracias: Nrbelex.

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