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Playing chicken with cat.jpg. In a game of chicken, which is the better strategy: Writing a lengthy and detailed "persistence policy" guaranteeing that you'll persist in your course and will not, under any circumstances, swerve to avoid your opponent; or ostentatiously removing your steering wheel and throwing it out the window?

Playing chicken with cat.jpg

As noted by innumerable game theorists over the past fifty years, the latter strategy is the only one which is useful: Humans can't be — and aren't — trusted to follow their stated intentions. I was reminded of this by 37signals' response on Monday to last week's cat.jpg privacy failure. To be clear, I have a lot of sympathy for 37signals: Once someone looked in their logs and saw "cat.jpg" as the name of the one hundred millionth file they had stored, I'm sure the resulting fit of laughter significantly impaired the possibility of rational thought; and their response is certainly better than finding a scapegoat or trying to cover up the mistake.

Humans are, well, human.


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