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1640FW: Nobody really buys hammers anymore

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  • Desilets, Alain
    Oct 3, 2005
      Slightly 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
      K1A 0R6

      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
      > things).
      > 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
      > life."
      > "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
      > hammers,
      > then it isn't very good at any of them. Driving a nail with a
      > sledgehammer
      > 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."
      > "So..."
      > "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
      > producing
      > 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
      > say!!"
      > "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
      > produced.
      > 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
      > expectations)."
      > "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?"
      > "Yes."
      > "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
      > http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.219431.22
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