In the early days of the space program NASA realized that in the absence of gravity, with no up and no down, a conventional writing pen would not work. They needed a writing implement that could work even if upside down. NASA put the best and the brightest minds to work solving this dilemma. After spending months of effort and a mere $1.5 million the Fisher Space Pen was born.
At the same time, the Russians were struggling to maintain their lead in the space race. They too were faced with this challenge. They however took a more simplistic approach to solving this problem. Instead of spending millions of rubles and diverting their scientists they used a pencil!
What were we thinking?
This story illustrates a trait that is all too common for humans. Surrounded by all sorts of gizmos and gadgets we too often look toward latest and greatest; and routinely the most expensive technologies to solve our problems. Often it originates with a genuine need, sometimes it is a want and occasionally we have no choice but to spend. Regardless of the prompt, frequently people buy more and bigger than they really need.
People buy too much power; computers with a 2.5 GHz processor and a 1 Terabyte hard drive to send and receive e-mails.
People buy too much capacity; they own three cars when there are only two drivers in the house.
People buy items with more features than really needed; some digital cameras come with instructions booklets that are bigger than the camera itself.
People buy bigger than necessary; picking up a 62″ flat screen TV for a room that is only 12′ x 12′.
People buy technology that rarely gets used; bread makers and treadmills have to be at the top of this list.
Taking a moment to consider the financial investment in stuff we buy, we routinely waste our money on the excess and the unnecessary.
As I pondered this post it came to mind that especially with technology we are simply paying for someone or something else to do things that we once did ourselves.
Has our society become desensitized to DIY?
We use to knead bread and whisk our own batters, using the same recipes yields the same results.
Do we really need all the bells and whistles?
How many of the features on a digital camera do most of us really use? I point and shoot with auto focus and auto flash. 99% of the time the picture is great for personal purposes.
Is the biggest and fastest always the best choice?
For the vast majority of computer applications 2 year old processor capacities are sufficient and unless you are editing feature length movies it would be difficult to fill up even a half a terabyte of storage space.
The next time you are in the market for a camera or a baby carriage, after you have reviewed all the options take a step back and ask yourself if you really need the latest and greatest.
A Monte Blanc is really nice but in the end won’t a Bic pen do?
Readers – Truth or dare… what gadgets and gizmos do you have lying around the house that you have never really used? If you are not going to tell the truth in the comments below, I dare you to donate them to a worthy cause!
photo by Kai Hendry