Our family moved to St. Louis in the Fall of 1964. I was 11. Mostly this was hugely disruptive for a bookish, introverted pre-teen. A year later, I was switched from the parochial school just up the hill to a private all-boys school, a 40-minute drive away.
One of the saving graces in all of this turmoil was my dad’s new job. He had moved to St. Louis to become one of the lead test engineers for the Gemini spacecraft built by McDonnell Aircraft.
How could it get any better for someone absorbing every science fiction title he could lay his hands on at the local public library? Everyone was following the space program. My dad was part of it. I had pictures of him working with the Mercury and Gemini astronauts. I was a nerd before there was a word for it.
All of this directed my gaze outward. Not terribly unusual for a young boy in that time and place. What I also had was a glimpse at the complexity behind the scenes. Everyone saw the show on TV. I saw the testing and rehearsal and adapting that happened before or on the side. I didn’t have the words or the concepts for it at the time, but these were the seeds that grew into my fascination with innovation and creation.
Efficiency is boring. It’s interesting only to those who like piling things (money) up. Efficiency is isolating and inward looking. It stops at the edge of the system. You can’t even begin to think about it until you’ve worked out all the hard (and, therefore, interesting) problems.
The first few times you try anything new, you have to settle for effectiveness. Did it work?
That means looking at the bigger picture. How does this new thing fit in with and interact with the larger system? Effectiveness is about constantly running experiments in the real world. Can you make some predictions about what might happen next? What potential catastrophes do you have to guard against?
To me, I’ve always been mystified by those people who settle for efficiency. Who are content to do the same thing once again. Where’s the fun in that?