Tag Archives: Digital Age

In search of better tools

Tools are supposed to make our lives better, easier, more connected.  The oldest tools came about because humans needed to overcome certain barriers.  The first caveman who invented the first stone knife was probably very popular – all these other guys are still tearing leather and meat by brute force probably all wanted one because it made their lives far easier.

At some point we started inventing – and wanting – tools that precede our needs, tools that we want before we need them.  Maybe this is a good thing.  If done correctly, this means we will never be left wanting for better functionality again: the invention always anticipates future demands.  Every once in a while, a game-changer comes into the market that makes this true.  More commonly, we are left with the promises of a better future, new dreams, which the new tool fails to deliver, which has the effect of creating new demands that now go unfulfilled. (And of course, the occasional invention that neither makes promises nor delivers results simply get forgotten.)

It follows, then, that in a world of a litany of mediocre new inventions, there is a high likelihood that we end up creating new needs rather than satiate them – I see an ad for X, I realize I have a need Y which X promises to do, I buy X to realize that it doesn’t do Y very well, but now I can’t un-realize / un-want Y.

Thus, the irony if our information age may be that sometimes consolidating our tools and admitting that “no, I do not need this functionality” might make us more content, or perhaps even more productive.