Trying to firm up a theme
Returning to a vague theme, trying to firm it up a bit.
Theme: Editors and selectors perform a CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT function, and they've gone missing. Editors and selectors are the negative feedback loop for science and business and government.
Good science or good products or good writing or good governments require experienced and skilled editors who have AUTHORITY. There's no point in having a feedback module if it isn't connected FIRMLY to the inhibitory input of the system. [In other words, the system doesn't get to select whether it obeys the selector, doesn't get to edit its response to the editor. The editor wins automatically and consistently.]
Designers and writers and inventors and programmers are important, but without hardass and authoritative editors, nothing works.
An editor needs to know, in broad terms, what will sell or what will work or what will solve the problem. He doesn't need to know the details of metallurgy or math or art or grammar or null pointers, but he must have a FEEL for those things.
In most areas of life we've lost or destroyed the editing layer, or corrupted it to act as just another designing layer.
In US "government", the Senate was originally meant to be the editor. The House and executive would propose various schemes, and the Senate, directly delegated by the states, would judge whether the scheme would work in all states. If it wouldn't work in a strong majority of the states, it wouldn't be added to federal functions. This setup was lost almost immediately with Madison vs Marbury in 1803, then killed by the 17th amendment that turned the Senate into a more corruptible version of the lower house.
In car manufacturing, dealers formerly performed the editing function. Dealers knew what would sell to THEIR customers, and smart manufacturers consulted the dealers at every stage of design. Since 1980, most dealers are no longer bound by a contract to one manufacturer, so they can't act as consultants. Traveling salesmen performed a similar function in other areas of manufacturing. Each salesman knew what HIS OWN customers wanted, and smart corporations listened. In recent years the salesman has surrendered to the web, and the 2020 holocaust was the final coup.
In science, the big journals like SciAm and NewSci formerly had editors who knew what was useful and real and entertaining,
and judged articles accordingly. In recent decades all big journals have become mechanistic agents of Deepstate. Their editors are ferocious inquisitors rooting out and burning heretics, not judges of scientific purpose and scientific fun. The function of editing has been tossed back to peer review, which has ALWAYS been an enforcer of rigid orthodoxy.
In some areas we're trying to replace editors with mechanisms like AI or automatic "program-proving" programs. These tricks don't work. AI consistently fails at editing and censoring online conversations. It enforces verbal orthodoxy at the literal level, destroying normal wit and meaning. "Provers" can spot simple logical flaws, but simple logical flaws aren't where real failures happen.
Editors and salesmen are still functional in smaller enterprises. I've seen this distinction SHARPLY after my courseware switched from the giant NYC LBO company to a small business run for many years by one family. The giant NYC company had multiple layers of "editing" functions, none of which were concerned with utility or sales or even correct facts. They were competing for the favor of JPMorgan, not the pleasure of the customers. With the small company, I deal directly with one editor while writing, and directly with one salesman in solving bug reports. The editor knows what will sell, and the salesman knows what will serve the customers.
I've discovered that I love serving. I love getting to know the customers, and learning how they think and what they need. I love solving their problems.
This discovery wasn't possible with the NYC LBO outfit, because I wasn't allowed to deal directly with the customers. Presumably they had a call center in Bombay for that purpose, but I wasn't even allowed to know that. Deepstate all the way.
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Later thought: If editors had more prestige, would they have more authority? If people idolized and listened to editors the way they listen to the murderously wrong misadvice of Elon and Buffett and Neil Ferguson and politicians, would the job be done better? I doubt it. More likely the opposite. The route to fame is through active monstrous evil. This isn't new. Famous newspaper editors, from Hearst to William Allen White to Jill Abramson, were famous because they created war and tyranny and riots and crime and genocide, not because they selected stories to solve the problems of readers.
Museum curators become famous by destroying art through brutal modernism.
I can think of some partial and ambiguous exceptions to this rule. Some of the big names in industrial design like Loewy and Earl and Edison were really editors. They rarely drew or invented; they actually guided and selected the work of their employees. They served customers well, without intentionally killing the customers or ruining their minds. But they weren't famous AS editors or curators.
Labels: Editors, Entertainment