Something like a quarter of the world has a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. Knuth thinks 2% of the population have brains wired to make them geeks.

I'm convinced that there's a chunk of humanity with something in their heads that makes them susceptible to "procedural" or "episodic"* cost blindness, particularly wrt time. This is probably measurable. Personal experiences have led me to think it might be as high as 1 in 3—but who knows (maybe more?)

* in the sense of episodic memory

When I gave him a better ballpark figure of 4+ min, he was mildly incredulous. I said we should stop and have him do it right then and there and we'd clock it. Even with the raw numbers (on the order of minutes, for what should have been available to anyone at any given time in <1 sec), it was still deemed to be not a big deal. Across the company, entire 12+ hour days were eaten by things like this, but no one seemed to be able to "see" it. And it was not a laid back environment.

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The other guy said essentially that it wasn't a big deal, that it didn't take very long. He responded to my surprise with an estimate of 20–30 secs. He had no time-cost awareness about this thing he was doing.

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(Realistically, natural demand for the report was higher than once-daily, but "daily" was the (unconscious) compromise—because of the "cost" of obtaining it.)

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Same company: there was a report engineers/management needed every morning. Preparation delegated to technicians. I learned from the guy who'd been doing it how it was done. He'd copy a table spit out on some page (by some ofc baroque system), paste into Excel, and generally clean and format it in a deterministic way. All in all, it took 5–10 minutes for any given report (which is why it was delegated to technicians in the first place).

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In fact, you couldn't really even talk to anybody about this; I tried *a lot*—but people just look at you blankly. This is all post-2010, people of all ages, most of them with some kind of post-secondary education.

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(cont'd) Typical case in internal systems: something would be associated with an ID (ex: req. #6283 to get a customer's wafer shipped). Most systems were accessed through the browser. Suppose for some reason a team needed to discuss that request. Instead of copying the link (fast) and pasting for clicking (fast), they'd scroll around and find the ID (slow), then others would have to navigate to the system that managed those items and then type or paste the ID into a form by hand (moar slow).

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@cwebber re your blogged response to @jfred's link to You Can't Tell People Anything (side note: has always been one of my favorite essays):

Thing is, experiences are often still not enough. They aren't "sticky". In particular, I've run into people who still don't "get" hypertext—or at least people who behave as if they don't. And they exist in groups large enough to be noticeable.

In the big semiconductor company I worked at, I couldn't get anybody to use links....


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