Rough And Ready?

(Originally posted 2012-01-20.)

A couple of items from the world of music caught my attention recently – and there’s some commonality between them:

  • According to Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters’ blog post: Hey everybody, Dave here’

    “From day one, the idea for this record was to make something completely simple and honest, to capture that thing that happens when you put the 5 of us in a small room. No big production, just real rock and roll music: That’s why we decided to do it in my garage. We wanted to retain that human element, keep all of those beautiful imperfections: That’s why we went completely analog.”

and

Of course I have both the Foo Fighters album (Wasting Light) and Beyond Magnetic. I thoroughly enjoy them and their roughness in no way detracts from the value I get from them. In fact both these comments surprised me.

Now granted neither Foo Fighters nor Metallica are known for their subtlety. πŸ™‚ But they are known for being amongst the best bands active today.

There is of course another band of exceedingly high effectiveness: Queen. Now they are known for their subtlety (mostly). πŸ™‚ But they’ve not been all that active for many years – for obvious reasons. 😦

It turns out there’s quite a lot of stuff in the Queen vaults that never officially saw the light of day. The suggestion is it’s unfinished and therefore not to be released. I, like many other fans, have heard some of this. We tend to think most of it meets our releasability criteria. Take for instance a song called I Guess We’re Falling Out. If you listen to it it’s clearly unfinished but absolutely exquisite. Now whether it should be released finished or unfinished is a good question. But I think it should certainly see the light of day.

Now this post isn’t just a rail against Queen Productions. It is that πŸ™‚ but it’s also about the wider point:

When is something good enough to see the light of day?

I’m obviously not advocating shoddy work – and none of these three examples from music represent that. But sometimes throwing something Rough And Ready (the title of this post, complete with pun) out there is the right way to go. And sometimes it’s not.

  • When I put together new analysis code it’s prototypical. And it’s the commitment to refine it in the light of experience that’s key here. As is the appropriate level of tentativeness involved.
  • When I’m doing something where quality is critical it’s a different matter entirely.

This post isn’t profoundly philosophical πŸ™‚ but it’s an area I did some thinking about over the holiday season. This time no new code of any value emerged from the holiday. But this and a couple of other lines of thinking did. Maybe I’ll post about those soon.

Published by Martin Packer

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