Complex Tools

There are tools that work right out of the box and that you don’t want to tinker with because they’re well-designed. And then there are tools that work only okay out of the box and that require modification in order to work well.

The former is great if you want to use the thing, the latter is great if you want to understand the thing. Both are fine options, but there are times where opting for the more difficult-to-use thing is not just acceptable, but advantageous.

On the one hand you have the Dremel 3D45 printer. Works right out of the box, very little setup to worry about, and has an intuitive user interface. Costs around $2,000. You would never hack this printer.

On the other hand, you have the Ender 3 3D printer. Costs around $200, works okay out of the box, but requires a lot of modification to get it really singing. You can 3D print parts for it, buy parts online, modify the electronics — any way you cut it, you’re going to be waste deep in documentation.

If you want to simply 3D print something, then buy the Dremel printer. If you want to learn a little something about 3D printers (and anything CNC, really), then you should buy the Ender 3.

Life is full of choices like these. Get the thing that just works, but hides the complexity, or get the thing that sort-of works, but reveals the complexity. Understanding the complexity changes the way you look at things, and brings you a step closer to real agency.

With things being so complex and so invisible, this is an interesting juxtaposition: Do we want to be consumers or creators?

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