Pre-emptive redundancy

gadgetThere are things that we just don’t need, yet no matter how unnecessary those things might be, you can guarantee that someone, somewhere is designing a brilliant solution for a non-existent need that, in all probability, we will feel the urge to have in our life.

Any kitchen will be testament to this weird flaw in human nature – a quick inventory of your average kitchen drawers or the dusty realms between cupboard tops and ceiling will unearth a plethora of gadgets and accessories, used only once or twice, before being consigned to oblivion, some of which will still be found in their original boxes. Popcorn makers, pancake flippers, electric fat separators, fancy knives for de-stoning avocados, trays for making your bacon crispy in the microwave, and the inevitable, essential unused kitchen gadget par excellence… The rabbit lever corkscrew, complete with complementary foil cutter. You’ll argue, of course, that the majority are well-meaning, but unwanted, gifts; however I’m pretty sure that at the time you were secretly excited to receive them, and for a time at least, they held pride of place on your kitchen counter!

Now they sit, unused and forgotten, in the dark recesses of the corner cupboard, (the one you have to lie on the floor and practically crawl into to retrieve anything at all).

It’s not just in the kitchen though that you find such things – scattered throughout our lives are the waterproof pens, digital bookmarks, USB mug warmers and weather station clocks that at one time seemed such essential necessities but now find themselves washed up on the shore of redundant trash.

There’s a whole industry geared up to designing, producing and marketing gadgets, toys and other ‘must have’ items which will basically have a working lifespan of nanoweeks, before ultimately being consigned to the oubliette of forgetfulness. They are designed with redundancy in mind.

facelight_001There are exceptions to the rule, of course – for every 99 toasted sandwich makers that lie festering in gloopy, rancid loneliness, there will be one that sees almost daily use – it entirely depends on our own appreciation of their usefulness and utility, but I fear that these will always be in the minority, which in its own way is just a little bit sad, especially for those who have invested time, money and effort in bringing them into being.

One such product I recently came across is the SL keyboard: It is something that I simply would never use – I don’t see the point of having a keyboard that replicates exactly the same actions that a mouse click can achieve, but don’t let that put you off because there will no doubt be a significant number of SL users who have been waiting for this for years. I hope it’s a success for its creator, but for me, this falls clearly into the same category as laser guided scissors… Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but we’ll see.

Whilst considering useless accessories, I came across a forum comment suggesting that the majority of items vended from gacha machines is pretty much pointless too, and I think they may have something there. Plushies, knick knaks, useless accessories, those things that avatars inexplicably have dangling from their mouths, and a whole host of other meaningless, yet seemingly highly desirable objects form a significant part of the gacha market, but despite their lack of purpose, I don’t personally think they fit into the same category as their real world equivalents. In RL, functionality is king: gadgets fall by the wayside simply because they are too niche, too quirky and they take up time and space that we just don’t have to spare. None of this matters in SL, which is itself niche and quirky and is a place where physical space isn’t such an issue and where time passes in a leisurely manner. If ever there was an environment where the fun and frivolous should proliferate it’s SL.

And personally, I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much if it was any other way!

s. x

What a waste
What a waste
What a waste
What a waste
Ian Dury And The Blockheads – What a Waste

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