Thursday, January 14, 2010

Technology and Over Simplification

Technology is supposed to make our lives simpler. Indeed, it has contributed a lot towards that front, but there are times when it advances too far to make itself look stupid. Sometimes, rather many times, harmful (nuclear bombs, global warming, depleting ozone layer…).

However, lets leave the more serious discussions aside, and look at a scenario where technology fails in a rather stupid way.

It was just another run-of-the-mill day. I was web-browsing using my company’s resources in the office, and checking my mail intermittently. I happened to go through an email where a person was moving to a different location, and hence selling all the unnecessary stuff.

I browsed through his list just out of curiosity, and found a pencil sharpener. Interested, I looked more and found it to be a special electric sharpener worth $10! If a second-hand used sharpener was worth $10 (about 200 times the price of a “normal” sharpener found in India), how much would a brand new one would be worth?

Further interested, I typed and looked up one such item. If I had been drinking water during that time, I can bet my life, I would have spilled off water in amusement.

$41.79 for a pencil sharpener?! Disgusting!

Even more surprising was that people actually liked this damn thing enough to write a review on it.

I had originally purchased a cheap electric pencil sharpener and was frustrated with its lack of performance. I finally "bit the bullet" and spent the big bucks for one that received excellent reviews. I couldn't believe a simple pencil sharpener could be worth that much money, but I am soooo happy with it that I don't begrudge the cost any longer. It sharpens quickly, perfectly every time. It doesn't stop when sharpening is completed, but you can hear the sound change and know it's done. I highly recommend this product and would definitely purchase it again. I can't believe I got so excited over how well a pencil sharpener works! Few things today seem to have superior performance, so our expectations and standards are lower. Not so with the Panasonic pencil sharpener; it's a great product.

It was eye opener. Manufacturing a pencil sharpener is rocket science as well! Nataraj still has a huge learning curve. Oh, how did I even survive my childhood with such outdated and mediocre technology?