Friday, June 30, 2017

Tech Scrimp

Not long ago, it was my privilege to sit in on a discussion of the economics of automatic light switches that turn on and off when a room is or is not in use. A lecture hall filled with expensively educated attendees agreed that the twenty years it would take to recoup the investment was more trouble than nagging users to be responsible. It would be interesting to calculate the value of the time that involved itself in the comment.

Interestingly, the issue touches on a couple of central issues of design. Buckminster Fuller asserted that people in general are drunk and not worth the trouble of educating. He advocated building an environment that demands no responsible behavior. The Arts and Crafts community was oriented toward low-tech and fostering the personal qualities that enabled fine motor skills. Low-tech is my hands' down favorite for elegance, initial cost, portability, and, usually, economy of space. 

Last week's light bill arrived with a notice encouraging customers to consider buying "advanced power strips" that automatically cut off the draw from devices that are constantly on. I consulted the new techie-in-residence, who commented that the strips are more relevant to entertainment hardware than the relatively simple inventory we live with. It's always a pleasure to ignore the latest advice -30-

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