The only thing we learn from history…

is that we learn nothing from history. That’s not mine, btw – I filched it from Georgie Hegel.

Am thinking at the moment about one of my favourite themes – how little we (e.g. me) learn from our mistakes, how resistant we (e.g. me) can be to robust and would-be-if-we-took-it helpful feedback (whether that is coming from a place of love or malice) and how very difficult it is to actually change even if a) we actually listen to the feedback and b) agree with it and c) think that things can be different.

At every single step on that “path” (and don’t get me started on roadmaps and pathways and the whole linear meliorative thing, ‘kay?) you can step on landmines and kablooiee, as that Calvin and Hobbes guy used to call it.

Still, it can be done – others have done it. And we (e.g….) need to set our sights at the achievable.

Here’s the quote that inspired this, from a whole BOOK about failure…

“The concept of failure is central to the design process, and it is by thinking in terms of obviating failure that successful designs are achieved. It has long been practically a truism among practicing engineers and designers that we learn much more from failures than from successes. Indeed, ,the history of engineering is full of examples of dramatic failures that were once considered confident extrapolations of t successful designs; it was the failures that ultimately revealed the latent flaws in design logic that were initially masked by large factors of safety and a design conservatism that became relaxed with time.”

Petroski, H. (1994) Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgement in Engineering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.1.

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