Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Parkinson’s Law

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This bike needs a shed…

Yesterday, at work, I was introduced to the concept of “Bikeshedding”, which my colleague (who is unaware of my medical condition) told me was also called Parkinson’s Law.

Wikipedia (that not-entirely-credible repository of all things known to geek) states that Parkinson’s Law (which is not to be confused with Parkinson’s Law of Triviality)  is:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson

So very true. But not what my colleague was referring to. Turning instead to Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, we find that:

The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson

Same fellow, different law.

This is the bikeshedding “law”, so-called because of the illustrative anecdote, in which a financial committee is discussing the construction of an atomic reactor (very expensive,  and difficult to understand or envisage) and a bike shed (more comfortably priced, and well within the understanding of the committee members). The committee spend 2.5 minutes discussing the atomic reactor, and 45 minutes debating the finer points of the proposed bike shed. The third item on the agenda is coffee, which the committee discuss for over an hour…

The point is that trivialities have a tendency to take over. We had been talking about the number of spaces after a full stop, and the high feelings that the issue seemed to excite, both on the Internet and – to a lesser degree – among members of the technical authoring team.


Of course, as any modern writer knows, only one space is required.

But let’s not get upset about it.


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