Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own

How's this for meta? The following is a quote of Tim Oren quoting Kevin Kelly quoting Bayles and Orland.

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one - to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."

I've always subscribed the Law of Quantity over Quality. When I was a design student at Stanford University, I always marveled at the easy confidence of my fellow art students. I had no instincts or feel for art whatsoever. All I could do is compensate with volume and filtering. In photo class, we were told to shoot at least 20 rolls of film (720 photos) to generate our final portfolio. I once shot 20 rolls in 48 hours. It was not a coincidence that I got an A in the class.

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