Monday, June 28, 2010

Lessons From FIFA's Ineptitude

Today, two calls in the World Cup (a missed goal here, a missed offside here) were clear mistakes and require us to assign blame. There are a number of ways to respond. The comforting but ultimately misguided tact is to blame the individual refs. It is statistically unlikely that the majority of refs would be so much better than the refs today.

Or, one might blame the goals on FIFA's failure to allow instant replay. Replay definitely would have helped. But that tact also strikes me as not general enough. Instead, I see the problem as yet another example of the status quo bias against new technology. To me, inertia and rationalization are the real culprits.

The only reason that FIFA's decision making seems so dumb is because the games are public enough to allow for constant scrutiny. But imagine if millions of fans were watching as yet another patient's info was copied down by hand instead of being uploaded to a time-saving server. They too would be vitriolic. Or, imagine if announcers called the action as somebody wasted minutes every day by visiting websites individually instead of setting up an RSS reader. They too would be unimpressed.

So, sure, condemn FIFA for its failure to adapt to useful new technology. But be careful not to frame your blame as for a singular case of stupidity. Indeed, we can all fall victim to the status quo bias against adopting new technologies.