Monday, June 1, 2009

Feedback is everything

A short post about a huge subject. Understanding cause and effect is so basic to most of our existance that we just take it for granted, if we touch something hot we get burnt - instant feedback leads to quick learning. If the feedback is absent, or the distance between the event and its affect is too long we just don't respond. For instance the link between smoking and illness is very well established. Smokers know that smoking harms them, but the feedback can take decades to manifest - just too long for most people to react to. It's taken social pressure to reduce smoking rates. The same is seen with climate change, we getting to understand the problems, but the gap between cause and effect is too long and difuse for most of us to link the basic act of turning on the lights, or driving to the shops to the real manifestation of weird weather, food production issues and so on.

If we can make feedback more obvious, make the link between cause and effect clear, then we can make our decisions and actions better. The trick is to develop tools to enhance that link, to make it clearer. The possibilities if we make that feedback loop really clear will be amazing.

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