On Creating Useful Things

We do not purchase an automobile, for example, merely to own some machinery. Indeed, it is not machinery we are buying at all, but what we can have by way of it: a means of rapidly carrying us from one location to another, an object of envy for others, protection from the weather. Similarly, a radio must cease to exist as equipment and become sound. A perfect radio will draw no attention to itself, will make it seem we are in the very presence of the source of its sound. Neither do we watch a movie screen, nor look at television. We look at is what on television, or in the movie, and become annoyed when the equipment intrudes – when the film is unfocused or the picture tube malfunctions.

When machinery functions perfectly it ceases to be there – but so do we.

From ‘Finite and Infinite Games‘ by James P. Carse.

3 thoughts on “On Creating Useful Things

  1. I have been re-reading “Finite and Infinite Games” this weekend and was surprised to see this passage when I caught up with my reading of your blog. I haven’t come to it yet in the book but it reminds me of a quote in Theodore Levitt’s “Marketing Imagination”

    Leo McGinneva famous clarification of why people buy quarter-inch drill bits: ‘They don’t want quarter-inch bits. They want quarter-inch holes.’

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