To Stream or to Batch?

Either Method of Communication Can Work

Guest Feature by Dale L. Oldham

I'll mirror Malcolm Gladwell and write about the obvious. Clearly Mr. Gladwell isn't accountable for my resentment over his success, because countless textbooks have likewise stated the obvious, but that gentleman has become famous and rich just because he can label indisputable phenomena (give me a break: "tipping point"??), provide countless supporting examples, entertain me and leave me seething that he wrote it before I did. So, I'm beating him to the punch, although I'll be succinct and keep this blog-sized, reducing the trees -per-volume-published ratio.

The biblical characters in Job were "batchers.” Job's friends spent hours or even days (well at least they used up a lot of verses) telling Job what he must have done wrong to incur the suffering in his life. Job spent hours or even days and certainly a lot a verses refuting each charge. Then the youngest friend chastised the others because they failed to address the real issue at hand. Then God spoke in a lot of verses. They all "batched.” They sent information in a package and it was received and a response was batched back.

Some groups "stream.”  I can think of countless examples, but I'll mention only two (offering an alternative to the Gladwell style).  The first is a clutch of talking teenage girls.  The second is a large, involved family (perhaps Italian) that talks incessantly and simultaneously.  Each group’s members receive and transmit information at once.  Somehow they hear and talk effectively and appear to understand.  There's none of this "I hear what you're saying.  You feel excited that Bobby (or perhaps Gieuseppi) glanced (or not)."  None of that. They talk over one another, interrupt, go off for coffee, and regroup, seemingly not missing a beat.  This technique is much more efficient than batching, but there's also the inherent risk that something will be missed.  But as in co-axial streaming of data, each bit of information goes and comes in that pipeline and is processed. 

The downside of each technique is that it frustrates those who use the other.  A batcher like myself will ultimately scream at streamers, "Won't you shut up and listen?"  The streamers, however, will roll their eyes and yawn "boring.”  So, the world remains infinitely complex because streamers and batchers can never communicate with each other.

So how'd I do, Malcolm?