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Consequences of the Rise of Design

On Tynan

I was walking through the mall a couple days ago. My path took me past a bunch of stores and kiosks, including the Nike Store. I walked past it and looked at their window display. They had a really nicely photographed poster and some cool looking shoes in a bunch of different colors. The store was beautiful and looked like a fun place to be. At the same time, their shoes aren't particularly great, they aren't actually innovative, and they're made of cheap materials. There are many shoe companies that are way lower quality than Nike, but I don't know if there are any with such a disparity between their presentation and the actual product.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this isn't just nike or most of the clothes in the mall-- it's how our culture works now. Back in the day, if you wanted a pair of shoes you'd go to a cobbler. He would design a pair for you, or use one of his existing designs, pick out some nice leather, and make you a pair of shoes. His design work, his execution, and his materials could all be leveraged about equally, so I'd guess that you'd tend to have either poorly designed shoes that are poorly executed and made of poor materials, or well designed shoes that were well executed and used good materials.

These days, things have changed. Design can be leveraged almost infinitely, which has changed the whole equation. Mass manufacturing ensures decent execution, but supplying top quality materials is difficult. A cobbler who makes a hundred pairs of shoes a year can take the time to pick out the best hides to get the best leather. That doesn't scale to making thousands of shoes a day, so material quality drops. Execution has become more consistent, but the benefits of cutting corners is magnified. Saving a penny on making a pair of shoes didn't matter to the cobblers, but it matters to Nike.

So these days, most of what people buy is well designed, decently and consistently executed, and uses relatively poor quality materials. In the mall I walked past a kiosk of phone cases. There were some that were blinged out. Pretty good design in that they fit perfectly on the phone the're meant for, the rows of fake diamonds are all uniform, etc.. Each one looks the same and is okay quality. But the materials are crap-- cheap plastic painted to look like metal covered in lackluster plastic "gems".

Welcome Back, and Why Sandoval Should Be Done in Boston

On Boston Sports Daily

Welcome back! This will be the first post of a long summer and I’ll be posting almost every day about topics in Boston sports.

Since there’s only one big 4 (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA) sports team in Boston playing right now, that’s a perfect place to start.

The Red Sox are hovering below .500 at 27-32, and with a payroll approaching $200 million, that’s an absolute joke. What’s more frustrating than their record however, is that the players the front office brought in in the offseason are greatly underperforming. Wade Miley, despite pitching better of late, and Rick Porcello have ERAs over 4.50. Justin Masterson has been stuck on the DL and when he was off it he was far from the Justin Masterson we’ve seen in recent years. Hanley Ramirez has been a jolt of power in the lineup, but that still doesn’t excuse the horrendous defense he’s “contributed” this year in left field.

I saved Pablo Sandoval for last because I wanted to draw a comparison to two former Red Sox players who were practically booed out of town. I’ll describe the three players as player A, B, and C, and I’ll reveal their names afterwards. All numbers are through their first 51 games with the Red Sox.

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