William Gibson, the author of the seminal cyberpunk book Neuromancer, is quoted as saying that “the future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed”. I think that’s quite apt as many technological innovations that should be everywhere never seem to get to the places that they need to be. Indeed even when the technology is available some people will simply refuse to use it, instead preferring to do things the way that they’ve always done them because, simply, that that’s the way it’s always been done. As a child of the Y generation I have no qualms upsetting the status quo should it net me some tangible benefit.
I got thinking about this late yesterday afternoon during my usual weekly clean up of the house before the working week. There’s always been this one little innovation that I’ve admired and always wondered why it wasn’t more widespread. It’s simply the bottom of a cheap coffee mug from Ikea:
Now looking at it you could just write that off as simple artistic flair on an otherwise standard coffee cup, but you’d be dead wrong. You see those grooves on the bottom are actually designed to drain water away from the bottom of the cup when it’s upside down, I.E. when it’s in the dish washer. Of all the cups in my household this is the only one that doesn’t have a little pool of water on top of it once the dishwasher has finished. It might seem like a relatively small thing but those little grooves mean that it can dry completely on its own without having a bunch of leftover dish washing scum on top of it. It’s ingenious in its simplicity.
Everyone’s had these sort of ah-ha moments where you find something that makes you question how you’d lived without it before hand. It’s interesting because we, as a species, are highly adaptable and yet conversely we’re also quite resistant to change, at least from my anecdotal point of view. That does seem to be changing with the younger generations picking up new innovations quicker than their predecessors (like social networking and new media) so it’s quite possible that the resistance to change is one that could be overcome in time. History does have an awful habit of repeating itself however and the rapid adoption we witness now might just be an artefact of them growing up in a technological world. Only time will tell for that, however.