The Optimizers

The Optimizers is a tale of caution for bloggers, experts, and those who would listen to them.

Photo courtesy of Splinter Group

There once was a boy who was still young and who needed a bit on instruction on the ways of drawing water from the well in order to help his garden flourish. Of course, any fool could simply lower a bucket into the waters below, but much of the precious liquid would slosh out from clumsy attempts to raise it back up the narrow space.

What the boy needed was optimization. There had to be a better, more efficient way of drawing that water from the well.

So, like many people in his community, he went to the Great Commons where all the purveyors of wisdom and goods gathered to ply their trade. The Commons was by far the largest market in all the land, and the enormous hall was divided up into little booths scattered throughout. Finding one of the indexers, the men and women whose job it was to know where all the booths were located, the boy asked, "Can you help me find someone who will help me optimize the process of drawing water?"

Before the boy had even completed his query, the indexer was busy replying. "-- fifth, twenty-six, and thirty-fourth rows all have what you are needing."

Somewhat taken aback by the unusual response, the boy still replied, "Uh, great. Thank you, sir."

The Experts

The indexer was, of course, correct about the location of the drawing water experts. The boy walked along and marveled at the many solutions on display. Some were clearly more clever than others, and the merchant's armbands of approval were in accord with the popularity of the solution.

In those days, all merchant wore three bands on either the right or left arm. One armband was dark blue, another light blue, and another still was red. On those armbands, a number would be sewn into the fabric to demonstrate exactly how many of the market attendees had thought the merchant's ideas or products were the best. The market had long ago given up on a single, unified voting system, but it had been able to at least limit the number of voting systems to some degree of success. At the start of each day, the indexers came to each booth and handed out the appropriate armbands to the merchants.

(Of course, some of the merchants tried to manipulate the system by purchasing votes from market attendees, but that is a tale for another day.)

The boy settled on a handful of merchants that not only had high approval ratings but also offered tools that would help alleviate his concerns. Even still, the merchants had so many options for him to consider that the boy decided to spend the night. He would return home to tend his garden on the following day.

The Best Way

The boy instead spent many days at the market, continuing to come back time and again to further quiz the "Optimizers" - the term he now used to refer to these men and women of great wisdom. What is best bucket to use? Which rope will ensure the least amount of sway? Are some wells better equipped to my farming needs?

After a year of asking such questions, the boy finally made his decision. He had learned all that the market had to offer and by now had his own opinions on the matter. After much study, he was truly an expert of optimized water drawing from wells.

The next day, he opened his own booth at the Commons and began to share the best way to draw water.

Unfortunately, the boy's forgotten garden had long ago dried out.