July 20, 2011

Aaron Swartz's blog

"Goods, Services, and Delegations" by Aaron Swartz

"Things you can buy are typically divided into tangible things (goods) and intangible actions (services). But recently I’ve realized there’s a much more interesting type of thing to buy: delegations.

"A delegation is like a service, except instead of asking someone to do a specific thing, you ask them to achieve some goal. Hiring someone to paint your wall white would be a service, hiring someone to make your house pretty is a delegation.

"Delegations are a lot harder than services. In the same way you can be pretty sure that when you buy a pen it will write, you can be pretty sure that when you hire someone to paint your wall white, she’ll actually do it. And if she doesn’t, you can just not pay her.

"But if you want to hire an interior designer, it’s a mess. Let’s say you pick one by looking through their portfolio and concluding that you like their work. But when they come to design your place, you hate the result. What can you do? You say that what you got looks nothing like the stuff in the portfolio and they’ll just say that every space is different and so has a different result. There’s no way to ever prove they did a bad job."

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