Just about every time I run into Steve Goldberg and Starbucks is mentioned, he starts talking about how they sell consistency instead of good coffee. There is a poem by Richard Brautigan that is particularly trenchant in this context:
Xerox Candy Bar
you’re just a copy
of all the candy bars
I’ve ever eaten.
So I guess another variable can be thrown in with the quantity and quality argument that I had with myself a while ago. Quantity, Quality and now Consistency. I can see no problem with consistency if the quality is high, but consistency at the price of quality is a bit troubling. I’m pretty sure the root of this foolish consistency lies with the Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, or Samuel Colt and his revolvers, or perhaps even as late as Henry Ford’s assembly lines; and with the first manufactories . I’m not aiming at some sort of Luddite anti-Industrial Revolutionism here, although anymore I have to wonder if the price is worth it.
Instead I’m trying to say that we’ve become accustomed to consistency and comforted by it. We’d rather have the same burnt cup of coffee and the same department store layout each place we visit instead of taking the risk of being startled by changes in the quality of the product. I guess it is no surprise at the world-listlessness of many folks if you think of it in these terms. If you eat the same feed every day it is no surprise you start thinking like a cow.