Re-inventing Old Ideas

Progress is a complicated beast. We live in a time of relentless innovation. All innovations are automatically improvements over the methods of the past.

At least that is what I am told.
Practical experience would seem to suggest that the quality of progress is a mixed bag. I would accept that every innovation is a benefit to someone. If I invented a glass hammer and it sold well, there would be a benefit to me. The people who sold brooms and dustpans would also benefit. In fact they would probably clean up. (hee, hee) The benefit to the users of the new hammer, would be a bit less clear. The problem of rust would be eliminated and they would have a good excuse to visit the hardware store more often, but still…

Having disposed of my old worn out log cutting sawhorse when I left Langley, I was thinking of trying a different solution to keep my chainsaw out of the dirt. I had noticed a product in a catalogue that was a simple heavy plastic box with a V shaped cut out in each end. The idea seemed logical and I thought it might be a bit handier to toss in the back of the golf cart and move around the property. When I started building this object, it occurred to me that if I made it a bit taller it would be easier on my back. When I cut it a bit taller, I thought it would be worthwhile to put a flat piece on the bottom so it could be turned over and used as a small stool or bench. As the little log holder/ bench neared completion, I realised that I had seen this very object more than once as a child. It was once a common sight around farmyards where firewood was harvested. Not for the first time (or last) I had re-invented something practical out of the past. I always feel a little less clever when I realise that my latest brilliant idea is just a bit of common sense that many others have also created.

Perfectly sensible and workable ideas are constantly being trampled into obscurity by the relentless tide of innovation. Maybe when the next new thing is offered to us, we need to ask the question “Does this really benefit me, or just the person trying to sell it to me?”

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3 Responses to Re-inventing Old Ideas

  1. Keith says:

    Hi Mark,
    I hope you are not suffering from frostbite. I saw on Yahoo that Alberta had the coldest temperature recorded yesterday anywhere – they said it was colder than Siberia. I imagine the temperature in Hudson Bay is somewhat milder. I was out bike riding this morning – the temperature was in the 40s and I can tell you I made only one round of the park and then hightailed it to the Mobile.

    Is it too cold to do any work? How much wood have you cut?

    Yesterday the court granted me title to Mr. Fonkin’s place. He hadn’t made any payments for a year and 7 months but I still feel bad. I hope he doesn’t do anything crazy but I know this whole thing is driving him a little insane.

    Let me know what’ happening. Hi to Elaine and a pat for Riley.


  2. ~MyLa says:

    I have, over the past several years, asked myself that very question! More often than not, whatever innovation I am looking at at that point, is more useful to the person/company selling it, than to me, so I stick with what has proven itself in the past…

  3. Very true Marcela. I suppose the trick is to keep an open mind and evaluate each new idea on it’s own merit, and that can be exhausting. Some new ideas are compelling, if for example the induction cooker fills the niche I hope it will, there will be a gain in economy, ecology and independence. If it delivers on those promises, I will be at peace with owning another gadget.

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