Monday, November 19, 2012

Indicators of quality

We recognize superior quality by certain indicators. A photograph, for example. We have learned to associate things like random real life subjects, selective focus and creative color saturation with good photos because they were associated with the great photographers.

My faux-Instagram from Paris.
Shot through the lens of my sunglasses,
to give it that faux-vintage look. 
When the quality indicators get applied to every item we encounter, it confuses the definition of superior quality. When Instagram and other apps apply those features to every photo, when every second photo we see looks like that, we can only think they're all good for so long.

We respond by developing new indicators of quality. The definition of a good photo is in flux. The use of random real life images, selective focus and creative saturation emerged as a response to the over-use of a previous set of quality indicators. Ansel Adams style taken to an extreme, and then rebelled against. The great photographers started using toy cameras, and we adopted our current set of indicators.

The new great photographers now emerging are using many different styles. Which will be the new standard for quality? We'll see as those new indicators emerge, are accepted, and ultimately copied by our comsumer photo tools. Then they'll be over-used, rebelled against, and discarded in favor of an even newer set.

Where's the business lesson?
The same process applies to a concept like "local." We all want local products, so corporations start stretching the definition and labeling everything as local. We can't think it's all superior, and we rebel. We will pick a new indicator of quality.

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