The DJ’s trilemma & principle

A DJ (disk jockey) is a person who is responsible for playing music tracks to a specific crowd. The music tracks are usually not their own creations but, nonetheless, they have been assigned to select a number of songs, of various genres, put them in a specific order and play them in front of a, usually diverse, audience.

Each DJ is faced with a trilemma: should they base their selections on the likings of (a) their employer, (b) their audience or, perhaps, (c) their own?

The DJ principle tries to address this trilemma by focusing on the desired outcome (z).

1. If the desired outcome is to abide to a specific standard set by the employer, then:

  • Even if the music does not please the audience, the DJ has to play whatever music the employer demands (z = a, always)

2. If the desired outcome is to allow each DJ full freedom to express themselves (i.e. the audience has gathered to listen to the DJ’s performance/selections), then:

  • Even if the employer is not a fan (although they usually are), the DJ can play whatever music they want (z = c, always)

3. If the desired outcome is to entertain the majority of the audience, then:

  • If the music the employer prefers pleases the audience, then the DJ’s likings should be ignored. (if a = b then z = a, not c)
  • If the music the employer prefers does not please the audience, but the music the DJ prefers pleases the audience, then the employer’s likings should be ignored. (if a <> b and c = b then z = c, not a)
  • If the music the employer and the DJ prefer does not please the audience, then the audience should state their likings by requesting songs (if a <> b and c <> b then z = b, not a or c)

4. If the desired outcome is to entertain every single member of the audience though, then that is not possible with this paradigm.

You can’t keep everyone happy… or can you?

To put this in other words: (1) is a lecture, (2) is a seminar, (3) is a tutorial and (4) is a private session.

You may be able to learn the tools and methods in order to educate students, but while we are stuck with/to an educational system that does not focus on each individual and instead tries to find the golden mean approach for a diverse crowd, some students are always bound to be left out and eventually fail/give up because their specific personal needs were not addressed.

Learning how the human mind works and how you can successfully transmit information to another person is really important. However, we need a more personalised approach for each student in order to achieve (close to) 100% successful knowledge communication, which can be accomplished by using high-tech means like video tutorials, podcasts or even peer collaboration. By recording many different teachers explaining the same concept and then letting the students decide which explanation fits their understanding best, we can offer humanity a broader spectrum of available processed information which can lead, not only to the understanding of existing knowledge, but also to the merging of all this personalised (therefore straightforward) knowledge, thus providing the students with the combined wisdom of all their teachers.

Konstantinos Gkoutzis