Monday, February 22, 2010

"The Best" Post Ever

All too often I get asked about the "The Best". What is "The Best" computer manufacturer?  What is "The Best" place to get a bite to eat around here? What is "The Best" email program? The more I am asked this, the more I realize that it is not a fair question to ask.

I say this for two reasons:

1. The more you know about a subject, the more there is to consider when making a decision. Let’s take a look at sushi for an example. If I was asked what the best sushi in the area is, I would quickly provide an answer based on my personal experience; mainly taking into account location, cost and flavor. However, taking a good look Here. I am missing most of the categories that a Sushi Geek would look at to answer the question. In fact, a true Sushi Geek has so much to look at, that the question itself might be too vague.

2. The person asking you has a different frame of reference for "The Best" than you do, given that you are the Geek on your topic. If you do not understand that person's frame of reference, you cannot answer their question. For example, if someone says to me, "What is the best place to go look at new computers?". That is a different question then "What is the best place to buy a computer? I am looking for a Dell desktop." I would have two very different answers for these two very close questions. Personally, I would build my own desktop, so my frame of reference would be different from both.

So now when I ask a Geek about their passion, whatever it may be, I often frame my question with as much supporting detail as possible. To a Geek, the reason the question is being asked is often just as important as the question itself. Instead of asking a sommelier what their best wine is, ask them what pairs well with your dinner selection and give them a price range if that matters to you.

On the flip side, do not be surprised if I give you a different technology recommendation than I give someone else.  Also, never get offended if I ask you more questions before providing you with an answer.  Details are the best!

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