April 6, 2008

Newton v. Einstein

Mike Ellis at Electronic Museum posted a terrific entry this weekend entitled Newton vs Einstein, providing some welcome physical grounding for CHNM’s longstanding motto, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Drawing inspiration from a recent BBC Radio 4 program on Newton’s three laws of motion and their displacement by Einstein’s theories of relativity, Mike writes:

Einstein’s brilliance – his “rightness” – matters a huge amount when we’re nearing the speed of light. But down here as we plod about our normal daily lives, we can cope with the innacuracies. Relativity matters not a jot; actions do have an equal and opposite reaction; gravity acts downwards and relativity is merely a philosophy … [The point] is this: just as we accept Newton over Einstein even though we know he is essentially “wrong,” if we (and by this I mean me, museums or anyone with ideas) want to shine, we too need to accept imperfection. In fact, I believe we need to learn to actively embrace it.

A slightly mangled translation of Voltaire‘s “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” “the perfect is the enemy of the good” has long summed up CHNM’s philosophy that it is better to do something well than nothing flawlessly. Other oft repeated phrases among CHNM staff include “release early and often” and “get over yourself.” They all boil down to this: Digital history is easily as much about doing as it is about thinking, and doing means getting dirty, making mistakes, and breaking proverbial eggs.

Omelets anyone?


    1. Einstein said the universe was complex but simple I like simple start from the beginning three positive energies exploded and the Big Bang now there’s three positive energies and three negative energies making a equal balance the building blocks for everything simple is good

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.