Of Tools and Technologies

January 15, 2020 in  Tools and Technologies
Avatar by Shawn Davis

A Bit Redundant

A tool is, without exception, the same thing as a technology. Consider the humble pencil. Without it, writing on a piece of paper is impossible. (Unless you have a pen, of course.)

It could be said that a tool is the representation of some specific technology. A pencil or pen is a form of writing technology. Cross has been making "luxury" writing instruments since 1846.

Has writing technology changed in that time? Yes. Would the use of today's writing instruments be obvious to a person from the 19th century. Probably.

People tend to speak of technology as some great panacea. Marketing in the 1950s commonly referred to "miracle" technologies. But practical technology, whatever it may be or do, is ultimately a tool for accomplishing something.

Luxury Writing Instruments

A Tool is Just a Tool

It is easy -- even perhaps fun -- to marvel at the wonders that some new technology employs. Some tools distinguish themselves with qualities that are lacking in other tools, with other tools are something entirely new.

It is the job of marketing and sales people to accentuate the good qualities and mitigate (or de-emphasize) the bad or less desirable qualities. The wonders must have some sort of perceived value in order to motivate the essential bargain of trading value for money.

The objective of the buyer is (or should be) concerned with value for money. The phrases "a sucker is born every minute" and "a fool is quickly parted from his money" refers to unwise or naive buyers that ignore this principle.

In the end, a tool is just a tool. It does something for the user. It automates; that is, it makes things easier (or possible, as in the case of S.C.U.B.A gear), or it provides some other perceived value that is worth the cost.

It's The Outcome That's Important

Back in the days when I built websites for a living, prospects would often come to me in anxious desperation; "I need a website", they would say.

But really, it's not the website that they wanted. It was the value of the website that they were after. Typically it was for the purpose of marketing products or services. In many cases it also included the credibility that a (good) website would bring to their business or organization.

The same is true for pretty much everything. A carpenter doesn't want a hammer for the sake of having a hammer. They want the hammer because they can hammer with it.

"Buyers don't want the thing. They want whatever the thing provides."

Buyers don't want the thing. They want whatever the thing provides. In other words, it's the desired outcome that motivates the sale, and not the product or service in and of itself.

This is true for both practical purchases like a website or hammer, as well as less tangible purposes like the prestige or accouterments of a luxury car.

Additionally, an economic transaction is not required. It may be that the consumer has traded time or something else to receive the value.

So it is with the conclusion of this article: You've taken the time to read it, hoping to receive some value from it. I hope you did as well.

About the Author
Avatar For 20 years, Shawn has lived, breathed, and sometimes coughed up information technology, and is a master of both planning and process. He's also supervised the production of control boards for missiles and torpedoes, worked as a private investigator, managed a textbook warehouse, and lived in South America. His varied experience and wider view of the world brings a decidedly different perspective to problem solving, and his mission is to both encourage and assist individuals and organizations in rising to the challenges of our day.