Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Atul Gawande writes about spreading better childbirth practices in India, and tries to understand why some ideas spread faster than others by comparing the successful spread of anesthesia to the much slower progress of antiseptics:

A similar explanation could be used to explain the difficulties in getting people to backup their computer, or wear seat belts.

The important subtext here also is that it is not enough to hold people responsible for their ignorance to seemingly obvious remedies to big problems. When problems are invisible – such as the spread of infection from surgery after the patient goes home, the possibility of hard drive failure, or the damage an accident can cause to a driver not wearing a seat belt – people can tend to ignore the common remedy. This stresses the incredible importance of making these solutions more convenient. Easier backup/syncing technologies are valuable because they get people who would otherwise have been inertial to save their data to do so because it now requires less effort. Of course with many other fields, making solutions more convenient is not just a matter of an interface change but more a culture change – which is much slower and much more difficult but perhaps much more powerful.