Too Fast

“Designing products for developing nations is a unique challenge because inventors are creating technologies for cultures of which they have little, or no, experience. Ignorance of daily life and values in developing countries can pose difficulty envisioning how people might use an invention, or whether said invention fills a need at all. Case in point: Compatible Technology International visited Guatemala and observed women hand-shelling corn. They saw how labor-intensive the manual shelling process was, and, being engineers with a problem in their sights, they quickly developed a corn sheller out of a piece of wood with a hole in the middle. The women pushed the ear of corn through the hole, shaving the kernels from the cob MUCH more quickly. So the engineers crafted and donated several of their devices, convinced of their good deed. But when they returned months later, they found the women still hand-shelling corn. The women told them, ‘Thanks for your invention, it’s much easier. But this is the time we use to talk about men, school, and kids, and your device makes our work too fast for that.’ (Take heart guys, Edison had a similar experience selling a vote counter to the US Congress – of course they were talking about bribes and war, not ‘men, school and kids’.)”

Taken from this amazing post: Appropriate Technology

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