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   OT: Compared to what? (was Re: [xml-dev] Don't Let Architecture Astronau

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On Tue, Sep 17, 2002 at 11:35:21AM -0400, K. Ari Krupnikov wrote:
> >     (especially in North America), we are surrounded by shoddy products,
> >     ad hoc solutions, apathetic service, and half-baked plans.
> That is as compared to where? Tell me of that place and I'll go there
> at once.

Okay, buy your ticket to Japan.

Now, of course my statement was an oversimplification, and certainly a
relative statement in any case. But I lived in Japan for seven years,
and I observe:

 * The average quality of manufactured goods in Japan is slightly higher
   than in the US; there are also fewer extremely bad products, probably
   because Japanese consumers place a higher priority on quality than

 * Industrial design is far better and more pervasive.

 * The food is better. In seven years (during which I ate out quite a
   lot), I think I had exactly three bad restaurant meals. Lots of
   uninteresting ones, but almost always quality ingredients, skillfully

 * Customer service people in Japan don't always care about their
   customers, but they usually do a good job of pretending to care.

 * Of course, there are tradeoffs. Modern Japanese buildings are mostly
   horribly ugly on the exterior and more cheaply built than their
   American counterparts. Transportation is enormously expensive
   (Japanese may love foreign travel, but they also can often better
   afford it than domestic vacations). And of course there's the
   well-known lack of open space.

On the whole, I'm not sure I'm happy to have come back to the States.
But paradise is elusive.

Matt Gushee
Englewood, Colorado, USA


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