If there's one thing most people would agree is constant in life, it's change, and that's certainly true of the things we use. The history of things is the story of how they are changed in the uneven but inexorable march of technology.
There comes a time when many of the things we use are developed to a point of seeming perfection. We don't always recognize it at the time because we're continually looking to improve and innovate, and it's only after we've innovated a thing away from a state of beauty, elegance and simplicity and toward excess weight, needless complication and superfluous ornamentation that we realize we've gone farther than we ought, or than was really necessary. Remember the lithe, elemental Datsun 240Z and its techno-luxury descendant the Nissan 300ZX?
Some things are perfected but are a technological dead-end. The Samurai's katana wasn't replaced by an improved sword; rather, the firearm rendered the whole concept obsolete.
|"Don't worry, Gronk. Chainsaw just passing fad."|
And what is perfection is seldom clear, even in hindsight. It's hard to frown about technology making watches more affordable and more accurate, yet to me, some significant things were lost: style, the work of artisans, the wondrous interplay of miniature jewels and cogs and springs, not adding electronic batteries to our landfills. The thing is, probably no two people will agree on exactly when something has been perfected or even whether it has. Fortunately, the new doesn't always supplant the old; in the case of watches, electronics peacefully coexist with mechanical escapements, and there are more choices than ever to satisfy both me and my more tech-minded counterparts.
I'm not a Luddite or contrarian. I welcome the real progress brought by technology, but I also recognize that some good things get lost along the way and that some change is more about marketing hype or reducing manufacturing costs than about real improvement for the consumer. Five-blade razors? Really? Forty dollars for a ten-pack of refill cartridges? Are you kidding me?
What's one of your favorite objects of enthusiasm? When do you think it reached its state of perfection, or do you think the best is still yet to come? I'd love to hear from you.