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Scott Tashman
12-05-1994, 12:17 AM
Though I have been working in the motion analysis field for 15 years,
have experience with 4 different motion analysis systems and was one
of the earlier subscribers to biomch-l, I have generally stayed clear
of the list discussions concerning the relative merits of different
vendors' equipment for motion analysis. My reasoning is that,
generally speaking, I believe that each system currently on the market
has its own strengths, weaknesses and tradeoffs between capabilities,
cost, accuracy and ease of use. Thus, there is no "best" system -
each potential purchaser must make his/her own decision based on the
specific applications the equipment will be used for, the expertise of
the personnel who will be using the equipment and the available
resources. Though I may have my own personal preferences, I would
never make a specific recommendation to anyone about what equipment
they should buy without knowing in detail how the equipment was to be
used.

The diversity of equipment available now (especially in comparison to
1980) has spurred product enhancement by all of the vendors and driven
down prices, benefitting all who utilize these systems for clinical
analysis and/or research. Though individual vendors may claim their
system is superior to all others in one way or another, this is no
different than any other industry, and the warning, "buyer beware"
applies here as well as anywhere else. This is where user feedback,
such as that generated via biomch-l, can be useful. In particular, if
a user feels that a vendor has misrepresented the capabilities of a
system, he/she may feel that it is important to share this information
with others. If other users of the same equipment disagree, they too
can voice their opinion. With open discussion in a group as large as
biomch-l, one must assume that the concensus of responses will
generally be fair. No one should be unduly influenced by the comments
of a single user, whether good or bad, just because everyone's
applications, perceptions and expertise are different. Vendors must
believe that readers of the list are intelligent enough to understand
this, and avoid "knee-jerk" reactions if they see an occasional
negative posting concerning their products.

This is where I believe Dr. Ariel may have made mistakes which
contribute to the image problem he refers to in his recent posting.
It is easy to understand how someone who has made a significant
personal contribution to the development of a system might take
offense to negative comments about it, especially if he believes that
the comments are unjustified. One must, however, believe in the
fairness of the discussion list system. Most other vendors refrain
from responding to the list when their equipment is discussed, and I
would suggest that Dr. Ariel consider following the same policy. Any
posting from a vendor which discusses the history, features,
performance, and/or relative benefits of their system is likely to be
construed as a commercial posting, which would be in violation of the
biomch-l charter as I understand it. This, of course, does not
exclude anyone from postings which are of a scientific nature.

On the other side of the coin, I feel that users of equipment who wish
to comment on it to the list also have a responsibility to be fair -
the electronic nature of the list does not excuse individuals from
this moral (and legal, in the U.S.) responsibility. I personally
place no weight at all in any posting about equipment which is made
anonymously, and consider it to be of suspect origin. If you have
something to say that you firmly believe in, then sign your name to
it. If there is some reason why you cannot, then refrain from posting
at all. Those who collect individual responses and then post
summaries to the list should also, in my opinion, not include in their
summaries any postings where the author requests anonymity.

I do not know if the opinions I have expressed here reflect those of
the biomch-l community at large - I am speaking strictly from my own
perspective. The issue of commercial vs. non-commercial postings is
arising on many other discussion lists as well as biomch-l, and is not
going to be easily resolved. Fortunately, we all have the ultimate
power to decide which postings are appropriate and which are not: the
"delete message" option in our mail readers!

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Scott Tashman, Ph.D.

Head, Motion Analysis Section Assistant Professor
Bone and Joint Center Department of Orthopaedics
Henry Ford Hospital School of Medicine
2799 W. Grand Blvd. Case Western Reserve University
Detroit, MI 48202

Internet: tashman@bjc.hfh.edu
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