Thursday, January 26, 2012

Overchoice Paralysis

OK, it’s time for the paper towel companies to just stop. Purchasing paper towels is something that, like so many other things these days, is a very simple function that has become way too complicated.

First of all, the size of the roll has apparently become an issue. One brand, besides their “Regular” roll also offers Giant, Mega, and Huge rolls. Can you guess which of these is the largest? Neither could I. (Turns out “Huge” is bigger than Giant or Mega, by the way. Go figure.)

Once that's been settled, then I have to decide if I want plain or printed, then whether I want whole sheets or sheets that are perforated for partial-sheet use. At this point, I count 16 different products to choose from. All I want is a roll of paper towels.

Choices are good – they give you flexibility. But ironically, at some point having too many choices crosses the line from flexibility into paralysis: so many choices that you can’t make a decision.

This issue goes beyond too many choices, however, and into the realm of worthless and confusing metadata. If they want to have 16 choices of paper towels, then fine, but at least give the consumer clear data he can use to make a choice. Giant, Mega, and Huge tells me nothing.

All of this is analogous to our industry. Too many music choices can grind your project to a halt, but not having good metadata to find what you need is even worse. At Omni, we’re constantly trying to find the balance needed to maintain flexibility, and all the while striving to provide the best metadata to navigate your way through these choices.

And no, we don’t sell paper towels.

-Dave Hab

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