Looking at all the climate strikes, and the consumer culture we live in, I’ve been thinking lately about the why do we, humans, are programmed to always crave more, and how this conflicts with out current situation where a lot of things will inevitably have to plateau out if we’re to persist as a society.
Because true, innovation takes us forward, and innovation can’t happen without someone wanting more and more, wanting the strongest, the best. On the other hand, our whole western competition culture in its unstoppable spin of more, by now clearly having severe impact to our planet is a lot harder to sustain than it once was. (And so, we are still focusing on the easy part — the growth — without dealing with the hard part — doing it without impact.)
But if we’re honest, and this is probably true for most consumer goods, by now we don’t need new stuff as frequently as we get them, and when we do, we don’t need top of the line 95% of the time. I see ever more signs of realisation that what we have is probably good enough, can even be scaled back a bit. Our current mid range is probably perfectly good enough.
We could live in a “good enough” economy.
This is also true in the context of technology we’re using.
I actually started thinking about the whole topic in the context of my luddite unclouding attempt. DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg explained the concept quite well a while ago: you don’t always need to use the newest/best cloud things (that often harm your privacy in return), when you have good tools that, with a little setup, are perfectly capable and privacy positive. They deliver a good balance of functionality and privacy.
Speaking of, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried, albeit from a different perspective, but also converged towards the concept of “good enough”. Growth is overrated. A company that provides a good life to its employees without constant drive towards a good exit and more VC and higher valuation, can be good enough. (He reiterated this recently, in context of the little conflict they had with Apple around their HEY email product. And of course HEY in itself deserves a separate conversation altogether… another time.)
Maybe not in everything, but in most (or at least many) things around us, there are good enough options that, weighing in all the investment and benefit (be it climate, privacy, or just money) are good enough.
Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office? Probably good enough. But I put it to you, that a LibreOffice vs. any of these is also good enough for 95% of use cases. (And probably still good enough for the remaining 5, if we make an effort.)
Nextcloud vs. Google Drive, having to set up your phone calendars and contacts using WebDav and CalDav and CardDav? Easily good enough.
Pretty much any low-mid category car today? Good enough. It’ll drive, and it’ll have airco and Bluetooth too! (But of course you should keep the driving to minimum, climate strikes and all.)
Your old Macbook, without the butterfly keyboard? You know it’s good enough. But also, a cheap ARM based mini notebook (like a Chromebook or a $200 Pinebook) for just work? Probably also does the job.
My iPhone 7, in the year of the iPhone 11 Pro Max
5G Ultra+ 2000? Good enough.
My dumb 32″ TV that I haven’t watched for at least a month by now? Maybe even too good. (And certainly too heavy. I’ve been moving it. That thing is made of lead.)
A micro four thirds mid-range camera? Good enough, unless you are a pro wildlife photographer or an astronaut.
85% quality on JPEG compression for your Instagram? You bet!
Apple Maps vs. Google Maps? Who knows? Maybe by now it’s also good enough — after all, we live in a good enough economy!
FMCG? Think FMCGe!
Goodnight Moon? More like Good-enough-night Moon, am I right?
Come to think of it, Goodnight Moon sang by just anyone? No. That’s not good enough. You have to hear it in Hila Pittman’s voice. I mean just listen to this pure beauty of a song:
There’s no “good enough” in music. Music accepts no compromise, except when you make it. Then it’s always awesome.
But I digress. My point is: good enough stuff is good enough. Feature compromise is not a bad thing.