1640FW: Nobody really buys hammers anymore
- Oct 3, 2005Slightly off-topic but relevant to this list I'm sure.
Alain Désilets, MASc
Agent de recherches/Research Officer
Institut de technologie de l'information du CNRC /
NRC Institute for Information Technology
Tél/Tel (613) 990-2813
Facsimile/télécopieur: (613) 952-7151
Conseil national de recherches Canada, M50, 1200 chemin Montréal,
Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0R6
National Research Council Canada, M50, 1200 Montreal Rd., Ottawa, ON
Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada
> I've done small woodworking projects before, and I think I
> have a pretty
> good idea of what I need: some wood and a few basic tools: a
> tape measure,
> a saw, a level, and a hammer.
> If I were going to build a whole house, rather than just a
> spice rack,
> I'd still need a tape measure, a saw, a level, and a hammer
> (among other
> So I go to the hardware store to buy the tools, and I ask
> the sales clerk
> where I can find a hammer.
> "A hammer?" he asks. "Nobody really buys hammers anymore.
> They're kind of
> old fashioned."
> Surprised at this development, I ask him why.
> "Well, the problem with hammers is that there are so many different
> kinds. Sledge hammers, claw hammers, ball-peen hammers. What
> if you bought
> one kind of hammer and then realized that you needed a
> different kind of
> hammer later? You'd have to buy a separate hammer for your
> next task. As
> it turns out, most people really want a single hammer that
> can handle all
> of the different kinds of hammering tasks you might encounter in your
> "Hmmmmmm. Well, I suppose that sounds all right. Can you
> show me where to
> find a Universal Hammer."
> "No, we don't sell those anymore. They're pretty obsolete."
> "Really? I thought you just said that the Universal Hammer
> was the wave
> of the future."
> "As it turns out, if you make only one kind of hammer, capable of
> performing all the same tasks as all those different kinds of
> then it isn't very good at any of them. Driving a nail with a
> isn't very effective. And, if you want to kill your
> ex-girlfriend, there's
> really no substitute for a ball-peen hammer."
> "That's true. So, if nobody buys Universal Hammers anymore,
> and if you're
> no longer selling all those old-fashioned kinds of hammers,
> what kinds of
> hammers do you sell?"
> "Actually, we don't sell hammers at all."
> "According to our research, what people really needed wasn't
> a Universal
> Hammer after all. It's always better to have the right kind
> of hammer for
> the job. So, we started selling hammer factories, capable of
> whatever kind of hammers you might be interested in using.
> All you need to
> do is staff the hammer factory with workers, activate the
> machinery, buy
> the raw materials, pay the utility bills, and PRESTO...you'll have
> *exactly* the kind of hammer you need in no time flat."
> "But I don't really want to buy a hammer factory..."
> "That's good. Because we don't sell them anymore."
> "But I thought you just said..."
> "We discovered that most people don't actually need an entire hammer
> factory. Some people, for example, will never need a
> ball-peen hammer.
> (Maybe they've never had ex-girlfriends. Or maybe they killed
> them with
> icepicks instead.) So there's no point in someone buying a
> hammer factory
> that can produce every kind of hammer under the sun."
> "Yeah, that makes a lot of sense."
> "So, instead, we started selling schematic diagrams for
> hammer factories,
> enabling our clients to build their own hammer factories, custom
> engineered to manufacture only the kinds of hammers that they would
> actually need."
> "Let me guess. You don't sell those anymore."
> "Nope. Sure don't. As it turns out, people don't want to
> build an entire
> factory just to manufacture a couple of hammers. Leave the
> factory-building up to the factory-building experts, that's
> what I always
> "And I would agree with you there."
> "Yup. So we stopped selling those schematics and started selling
> hammer-factory-building factories. Each hammer factory
> factory is built
> for you by the top experts in the hammer factory factory
> business, so you
> don't need to worry about all the details that go into
> building a factory.
> Yet you still get all the benefits of having your own
> customized hammer
> factory, churning out your own customized hammers, according
> to your own
> specific hammer designs."
> "Well, that doesn't really..."
> "I know what you're going to say!! ...and we don't sell
> those anymore
> either. For some reason, not many people were buying the
> hammer factory
> factories, so we came up with a new solution to address the problem."
> "Uh huh."
> "When we stepped back and looked at the global tool
> infrastructure, we
> determined that people were frustrated with having to manage
> and operate a
> hammer factory factory, as well as the hammer factory that it
> That kind of overhead can get pretty cumbersome when you deal
> with the
> likely scenario of also operating a tape measure factory
> factory, a saw
> factory factory, and a level factory factory, not to mention a lumber
> manufacturing conglomerate holding company. When we really
> looked at the
> situation, we determined that that's just too complex for someone who
> really just wants to build a spice rack."
> "Yeah, no kidding."
> "So this week, we're introducing a general-purpose
> tool-building factory
> factory factory, so that all of your different tool factory
> factories can
> be produced by a single, unified factory. The factory factory
> factory will
> produce only the tool factory factories that you actually
> need, and each
> of those factory factories will produce a single factory
> based on your
> custom tool specifications. The final set of tools that
> emerge from this
> process will be the ideal tools for your particular project.
> You'll have
> *exactly* the hammer you need, and exactly the right tape
> measure for your
> task, all at the press of a button (though you may also have
> to deploy a
> few *configuration files* to make it all work according to your
> "So you don't have any hammers? None at all?"
> "No. If you really want a high-quality, industrially
> engineered spice
> rack, you desperately need something more advanced than a
> simple hammer
> from a rinky-dink hardware store."
> "And this is the way everyone is doing it now? Everyone is using a
> general-purpose tool-building factory factory factory now,
> whenever they
> need a hammer?"
> "Well?All right. I guess that's what I'll have to do. If
> this is the way
> things are done now, I guess I'd better learn how to do it."
> "Good for you!!"
> "This thing comes with documentation, right?"
> written by Benji Smith, 2005.09.30
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