(Roughly) Daily

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”*…

Liam Grace-Flood on the near universal comedy of technological failure…

… I’ve always been more interested in the failed inventions that aren’t just paving stones on the road to success. The kind of attempts that are so bad that you have to wonder “are they serious?” – like a nose stylus (pictured above) for using your phone in the bath when your hands get wet.

There are many variations on the idea of ‘failed invention.’ Rube Goldberg machines are overly-complicated contraptions, designed to accomplish simple tasks. Kludges and jugaads are hacky devices assembled from what’s available – usually creating something much weirder than if you started from scratch. There’s a whole genre of life hack TikToks where creators, in the quest to create as much content as possible, don’t stop to ask if what they’re creating makes any sense at all. But I’d say the genre of bad invention with the most nuanced and interesting relationship to failure is Chindogu.

Chindogu is a Japanese word meaning “weird tool.” These (almost) useless inventions might address a challenge, but they also create bigger problems. Iconic Chindogu inventions include chopsticks with a fan attached for cooling hot food and a onesie with mop-like fringe, harnessing the untapped crawling power of your baby to clean the floor. While inventions like these are usually not practical for their intended purpose, they can still be charming, evocative, and funny, and give us something that successful inventions can’t. They offer a moment’s deviation from some prescribed path to success, a pause in the slog of value creation, to allow a moment’s worth of weird joy…

A warm and wonderful appraisal of the innovative spirit (that doubles as a last-minute Holiday gift list): “On Chindogu,” in @the_prepared.

(Image above: source)

* Thomas Edison

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As we celebrate snafus, we might send well-designed birthday greetings to someone who successfully connected products with users, Walter Dorwin Teague; he was born on this date in 1883.  An industrial designer, architect, illustrator, graphic designer, writer, and entrepreneur, he is often called the “Dean of Industrial Design,” a field that he pioneered as a profession in the US, along with Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, and Henry Dreyfuss.  He is widely known for his exhibition designs during the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair (including the Ford Building), and for his iconic product and package designs, from Eastman Kodak’s Bantam Special to the steel-legged Steinway piano.

Walter_Dorwin_Teague

 source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 18, 2022 at 1:00 am

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