Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the Impact of Tools

"We've got the tools, and we've got the talent."
--Winston Zeddemore, Ghostbusters

In prepping for a trip this weekend, I pulled out my car's spare tire and made sure it was inflated correctly using a portable air compressor.

Earlier this week a colleague needed to sort a particular file, but it was too large to load properly in Excel or OpenOffice Calc. I was able to sort it with a text editor call VIM.

In drawing class we learned how softer graphite pencils can be used to create darker tones than hard graphite pencils. And we used them in concert to take advantage of the properties of both.

With some input from a friend, I took my hand-me-down guitar to a repair shop over the weekend and learned that it basically wasn't worth the money to repair. But playing a new guitar for the first time was astonishingly easier because the strings were at the proper height my old one never achieved.

All creative endeavors have one thing in common: if you are going to create something, you are going to use tools to help you do it. Indeed, tool use is a primary hallmark of our species, and we take it to some astounding ends. Cars, rockets, cell phones, computers, and software all help us achieve our everyday goals. Even the relatively simple tools we take for granted, like pencils, pens, scissors, paper, and pocketknives have a long developmental evolution. The right tools, at the right place, in the right hands, at the right time, can change the world.

So this week I was remind not to be afraid of investing time and money in good tools, at least basic ones, for the jobs and hobbies that are necessary or important to me. The long term improvement in the results will be well worth it.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Well said. My dad made sure I understood that I should buy the quality tool for a job, not just the cheapest one at Wal-Mart. That advice has served me well (though learned the hard way as well) and is applicable well outside hand-tools.