Friday, February 06, 2009

Change: Invention as the mother of necessity

Necessity is the mother of invention.
Interesting turn around.
There is lots of evidence that demand does not create supply and that instead whats invented is then repurposed and a demand created.
The space shuttles needed heat resistance; teflon gets invented. And then its adapted, translated....teflon in so much more...frypans, spatulas, irons, ironing boards, fire retardent clothes, heat resistant anything and ... The invention creates unexpected and unanticipated supplies and demands. Some unwanted...
(Not related to teflon but to chemicals in coolants, we have fire retardent chemicals in polar bear fur and the levels of prozac in recirculated water in the north seas is measurable though subtherapeutic ...)

When things change, there is also a change of things.

In txt messaging, the technology was developed for one purpose, gets coopted for another, creating needs. My daughter needs her text capable now do I. But i never had the need before the product came along. And there's an ongoing ripple effect, the expectation of always being on/always on you...creating expectations of connectivity...your best friend is only as far away as your pocket...and will apparently (if i listen to the advertising hype) always be available to me, always want to be and always positive.
If it hadnt already existed, telephone counselling would need to be invented.
And reshaped, meeting a need by being reconfigured in a format that suits its target group, young people....


  1. Anonymous12:06 PM

    And the need Ailsa, what is the need?

    Is it the need to be helped without actually acknowledging the other in the relationship. A desire for non relational experience.

    Think you will enjoy this thinking
    I Pay Them to Leave

    By Ian Ayres
    A business exec told me that he thinks of consulting firms a bit like Charlie Sheen thinks about prostitutes. When I asked him to explain, he said that when Sheen was being sentenced for using a prostitute, the judge asked him why a man like him would have to pay for sex. And Sheen reportedly replied: “I don’t pay them for sex. I pay them to leave.” The exec went on to explain that he prefers hiring business consulting firms that also do their jobs and then leave.

    I’m repelled, but fascinated, by Sheen’s reasoning.

    This story got me thinking about the demand for non-relational contracting. Ian MacNeil, my former colleague at Northwestern, was famous for claiming that most contracting is “relational” — or extends the duty to perform contracts through time and repeated transactions. But Sheen’s (possibly apocryphal) quotation has me thinking that there may be contexts in which people would pay a premium to avoid a relationship.
    Some people may at times prefer A.T.M.’s to tellers in part because they don’t want to speak to tellers. Some people may prefer Merry Maids to a regular housekeeper (or may prefer to be absent when the cleaning is done). Or some people may prefer buying at in part because of the lack of human contact.
    Indeed, what’s scariest to me as a professor is that part of the student demand for “distance learning” may come from students who don’t want to have relationships with their teachers.

  2. For some of the texters, you'll be right arti, in part its successful because some people dont want to relate, to be known, to share whats fearful or shameful across a txt message may be an ego protective mechanism, or a mechanism of least engagement when engagement is hard. Good or bad, I am less inclined to say, some relating may be better than none.
    With regard to online teaching and learning,there's a whole new raft of questions; what of teachers that like it? What of insitu relts in real time that are also damaging?
    My own experience at a MAsters level was that it lead to better relating. I could experience it at my own pace and be more considered in my responding. I could, as Ian Ayres points to, turn it on and turn it off. Empowered?