Paving the cow paths


A good reminder of two things in this article in The Spectator:

  • Things are so much better now than they were decades ago
  • Try to rethink and improve, rather than just rehash

In particular I learned the phrase: paving the cow paths which basically means automating something without actually thinking about whether it’s the right thing to do. The phrase’s origins appear to be:

When the city of Boston was new and unpaved the city fathers decided against laying out a regular street plan and instead merely paved the paths that had been worn by cattle. The implication is that this has resulted in a chaotic inefficient street plan that lacks logic. The admonition not to “pave the cow path” is supposed to remind us not to enshrine a makeshift solution.


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By Craig Bailey