Let’s play word association. If I say “new” what word do you think of? Did you say improved? Madison Avenue hopes so. But is it right? Are new and improved inseparable?

But Will It Enhance Our Lives?

About a year ago The Wall Street Journal reported “It's Alive! Vinyl Makes a Comeback.” Many musicians and audiophiles acknowledge the superior sound quality of records. Digital recording allows endless copying without incremental deterioration, but it does not capture the excellence of the original. Compact discs and MP3s were a quantitative improvement, less costly to produce and taking up less storage space, but a qualitative retrogression.

Many people feel Blu-rays are a qualitative improvement with more vivid images and better sound. However, they cost more than DVDs.

The paradigm is New Coke. It tasted worse than original Coke yet cost the same.

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Americans have long been captivated by what is new. A rallying cry of the 1960s was not to trust anyone over 30. Now that many of us are beyond this age do we still think it is good to discard those who have had the chance to gain wisdom? Social media gurus exhort us to throw out the old and embrace change, typically with at best a superficial analysis of the benefits and no thought to the unintended consequences.

New is not always improved. As noted above, negative aspects often counterbalance positive ones. Perhaps it is time to end the equivalency of new with improved and acknowledge such changes for what they are: different. Examined from this viewpoint we are more likely to make an objective decision about whether the change will improve our lives.

Question – Can you think of something that improved our lives qualitatively and quantitatively?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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