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Invention is the Mother of Necessity

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but in our world these days, it’s often actually exactly in reverse: invention is the mother of necessity.

broken light bulbFor example, before we had cell phones we survived without being able to call from anywhere to anywhere at any time. Phone calls happened only when we were at home, or in the office, or, in an emergency, from phone booths. And, amazingly enough, we all survived. And lived to tell the tale.

And yet today, now, we can’t live without cell phones. Try leaving yours at home or in the office some day, and getting through your day without it. Can you? Of course not. Invention is the mother of necessity.

The same  is true with email, SMS text messaging, even the Web connection. I shudder to even think of being cut off from the Web for an hour, let alone a day or longer. Perish the thought. And yet, amazingly enough, back in the 1980s and earlier we survived without the Web. See what I mean?

Spreadsheets, when they first came out in the early 1980s, made extensive budgeting and financial analysis relatively easy. Now we take spreadsheets for granted, and demand a lot more budgeting and analysis than we used to.

The early laser printers and page layout software made something we called “desktop publishing” suddenly accessible to the masses. Then it was unusual. Today we absolutely demand desktop publishing in everything we do, as a matter of course.

Invention is the mother of necessity.

(Image: snail race via Flickr cc)